The Future of PreProduction

"What are you doing," I asked, slightly shocked, as I watched Jayson (Crothers, our DP) whip out a small tablet and start writing on it.

"I'm taking notes," Jayson responed before holding up his fancy pants iPad, "I got this app and a stylus so I can write notes directly to it.  You can even write on PDFs and then reexport them.  It's pretty cool."

To say that I was blown away is an understatement.  I'd seen these devices, even played with them occasionally, but never did I see it do something as awesome as be used as a note pad.  I mean it makes sense, it is a touch pad after all.  Converting touches to handwriting isn't that big of a leap, but that was the first time I saw it in action.

I needed one.

I have been, for as long as I've been making movies, a huge proponent of the analogue over the digital when it comes to preproduction.   As convenient as it is to read scripts on the computer, I still preferred to read physical copies.  For me, it comes down to my creativity.

I enjoy reading physical scripts, not just because of the lack of eyestrain, but because I have the freedom to make notes whereever I please.  I revel (to Mike's dismay, I'm sure) in making margin notes on the copies of scripts.  Little ideas - from character motivations and blocking to small pictures for shot ideas - litter the margins of my well-worn paper scripts.  It makes me feel accomplished to look at a noted up script.  This method does, however, get a little cost prohibitive in the long run.

No more with this crazy chunk of future tech.  Now, not only can I mimic an experience of reading a physical copy of the script, but I can do all my markups on it as well.  Better, I can then export it and share my crazy thoughts with people not in my immediate vicinity.  To me, that's a game changer.

Ultimately, I got an iPad for my birthday recently, and it's been the best thing ever.  It works as advertised, and has almost immediately replaced my awesome production binder as my source for everything <i>Love in the Time of Monsters</i>.  And if it's this useful in preproduction, I  can't wait to see it shine when we're in full swing and on set.

I sound like a corporate shill, I know, but I don't mean to.  I prefer the iPad because I'm an Apple convert - after a solid two decades of being an ardent PC guy I gave into the hype and never looked back.  Best decision I ever made - but that doesn't mean they're the only game in town.  Everyday there seems to be a new version of a tablet on the market, and it just solidifies it as the way of the future.  Soon, I feel, the days of lugging around a huge, overfilled 3' binder will be replaced with a tiny, light-weight tablet that can hold infinitely more information and be more versatile at the same time.

And by soon, I mean now.  Welcome to the future.

3 Responses

  1. Dan Litzinger

    And the future of production and post production.

    I’m sure you’re aware of the slate app. And if you can mark up pdf files, that means you could have people sign releases right on there, then use it to take their picture to go with the release. You can also use it in post as a cheap wacom tablet instead of a mouse when you edit. And of course watch cuts on it and such.

  2. Katrina

    I’ve heard there’s actually a release app for iphones – you can have someone read the release and sign it on the touch screen, plus it’ll take a photo of them and link it to the release so in post everything’s already in one neat little package. Now we just need to force production to start using them!

  3. I’m sure you’ve seen it but Panascout is an extremely useful location scouting app that also works into the prepro workflow nicely.

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