Digital Assistant Data Bank: Toland ASC App Delivers An Invaluable (and Handheld) Resource
Chemical Wedding consistently wows me with its offerings. A partnership of cinematographer Nic Sadler, Simon Reeves and Toby Evetts, Chemical Wedding has produced some of the most useful and powerful iApps on the market for film and video professionals. This month we'll look at Chemical Wedding's Toland ASC Digital Assistant.
Named after cinematographer Gregg Toland, ASC (Citizen Kane), this application is a virtual American Cinematographer Manual in your iDevice. The app was developed in partnership with the American Society of Cinematographers and takes the depth of field and field of view charts from the famous ASC Manual and makes them interactive in a phenomenal way.
The application allows you to select any of a number of camera configurations, with a wealth of cameras and lenses to choose from. The list includes both film and digital cameras of all formats and sensor sizes.
Once you've selected your camera/lens setup, the app brings you to the depth of field screen, where you input your selected lens focal length, shooting stop (aperture) and focal distance. The app returns your close focus and far focus depth of field. It illustrates the depth of field graphically on a focus bar, which updates interactively as you slide your finger up and down the bar to change the main focal distance.
Switch over to the field of view screen, where the application provides a silhouette representation of your current lens and its approximate field of view.
In the field of view window, slide your finger up and down the focus scale to change the focal position of the camera and the app will show you what that distance will give you in your field of view. What does an 18mm lens look like from 10' away? How about that same 18mm lens from 2' away? You can get a very quick representation of what you'll see with that lens (in a simulated image).
Toland's excellent exposure assistant tells you how many footcandles of illumination is necessary for your selected aperture based on your filters, frame rate, shutter angle and ISO. It will also show you what exposure compensation is needed by changing your shooting speed, shutter angle, filters or ISO.
Toland is an incredibly powerful application, but it is not for the casual shooter. This is a professional tool, and it is not necessarily very intuitive in its functions. Once you get the hang of Toland, it is, hands-down, the most powerful and accurate depth of field and exposure calculator on the market. It is designed primarily for feature filmmakers and for cinematographers shooting good old motion picture film, but it also applies to digital cinematography, and the digital tools are all available in the application's extensive database.
Chemical Wedding Toland ASC Digital Assistant
PROS: Very powerful, precise calculator. Huge database of cameras, lenses, filters and more.
CONS: Complex. Not necessarily intuitive interface. Designed for high-end professional film cinematographers.
BOTTOM LINE: This is the best depth of field, field of view and exposure calculator I've seen. Its complexity takes some getting used to, though. Most useful for professional cinematographers.
ONLINE: Apple's App Store