Imaginative new iPad Apps for Creative Professionals

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The relevance of Apple’s new iPad Air 2 is bolstered by the ever-expanding catalog of apps available from the Apple App Store. Each new app has the potential to redefine how we use tablets in our lives, for everything from business to play. Just surveying the apparently unending list of available applications can be bewildering, so giving your search some focus will greatly improve the chances you’ll find an advantageous app with some true benefit—rather than an app you use once and forget about. This article will limit its search to creative or artistic apps that improve the way we record and produce music, take and disseminate photographs, shoot and edit video.

Apps for Musicians

How we create music and compose, produce and mix audio tracks has undergone a sea change over the last twenty years. The landscape has been transformed by digital sample libraries, DAWs, and plug-ins. I rarely work on anything anymore without opening up Pro Tools or Logic first. And since the best apps take advantage of the wireless, work-from-anywhere ability of the iPad, it’s fitting to begin with the TouchOSC App.

TouchOSC may seem complicated when you read about how it works, but it works on very basic OSC and MIDI principles to essentially act as a controller for a wide variety of DAWs. It sends and receives OSC and MIDI data via Wi-Fi and CoreMIDI, providing the ability to control faders, rotary controls, encoders, push and toggle buttons, XY pads, and more. Since it works via the fairly universal language of MIDI, it is compatible with a bunch of software including Logic Pro, Ableton, Renoise, Max for Live, and more.

If you use TouchOSC with your new iPad, several accessories including mic-stand mountsmusic-stand mounts, a capacitive stylus or iPad wall mounts would surely improve the app’s effectiveness.

Another pro-audio app with huge potential to improve your current recording and rehearsing environment is the Audio Tools application by Six Digital. Audio Tools offers a suite of professional-grade audio- and acoustic-analysis apps. It provides a basic collection of quality tools for accurate acoustic analysis of your studio. The tools include an SPL meter, RTA acoustic tester, a Generator, an Audio Scope, and a Recorder. The app also features the framework to add more sophisticated modules as you need them. As you get more serious about acoustics, so does the app. Audio Tools can literally grow with you. As you begin to understand the acoustic limitations and possibilities of your own studio, you may want to invest in some acoustic treatments. The options that pack the most bang for your buck include absorption panelsdiffusersbass trapsbooths, baffles, enclosurescloud panels, and even complete room systems.

The previous two apps have demonstrated the new iPad’s potential as an audio-production tool, but it can be an excellent tool for working or aspiring musicians as well. The iPad Synth app features an outstanding polyphonic synthesizer that supports more than 40 instruments. It even boasts a mod wheel and adjustable delay. A low angle desktop stand would make this app even more user friendly. And studio headphones would allow you to experiment with sounds and melodies without driving the neighbors mad.

Guitarists who are also new iPad owners may already take advantage of a guitar-tuning app or a chord instruction guide, but there are also apps available for ameliorating your craft. Guitar Lab, by TrueFire, is an application that brings the guitar lesson to you—wherever you are. It’s perfect for the dedicated musician on the go, as it allows you to stream guitar lesson videos. Beside videos, each lesson features text, standard notation, and guitar tab, as well. It even supports a diverse lesson plan that includes music genres like the Blues, Rock, Jazz, Acoustic, and Country. There are video lessons that feature technique instruction through tab and text guides, as well as short and long instructional videos for everyone, from beginner to expert. If you also use any plug-in effects apps, an iPad/guitar interface device would allow you to run your guitar through your new iPad, so you can experiment with different tones and amp models while you stream lessons and learn theory.

For drummers, DJs, and producers, the Easybeats app offers a standout, portable drum machine application. It allows you to turn your new iPad into a professional-quality drum machine. You’ll be able to quickly create punchy and energetic four-bar beats using only your iPad. And you can do it from almost anywhere. Traveling musicians with an iPad are lucky enough to have a whole world of useful programs and plug-ins available to them through the Apple App Store. A good set of studio headphones or quality studio monitors and a subwoofer would really improve your Easybeats experience.

The new iPad has apps for every type of musician, and thanks to the forScore app, it even wraps Classical and Jazz musicians in its warm embrace. forScore lets you take thousands of pages of score with you, when traveling, or just commuting. forScore is equipped to download virtually any PDF file directly from the Web, so you can turn your iPad into a top-notch music reader with an enormous library of sheet music. The app features innovative tools as well, including an audible metronome, a visual metronome, and much more.

forScore Audiotools Easybeats Guitar Lab iPad Synth

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Apps for Photographers

The iPad is an extraordinary tool for photographers. It starts with the device’s extremely capable camera that is, by any measure, a serious photography tool. But, the versatility does not end there; it is the apps that make the tablet an über-useful instrument for the photographer. It takes great photos on its own, but it also has the capability to function like your own personal photo assistant for numerous tasks. For organizational purposes, I like to break the apps down into specific categories: apps for iPad camera control, apps for photo editing, apps for sharing images, and photography utility apps.

The iPad, if you hadn’t noticed, is free of buttons, knobs, and dials that would theoretically be used to control camera functions like ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. The camera is honestly really good at capturing images, with its advanced brain working on automatic mode. Luckily for the photographer who wants to take control of the camera’s variables, there are some great apps that let you do just that. VSCO Cam not only gives you camera control and editing features, it also does some photo sharing too. Feature-packed with a horizon level, different shooting and scene modes, and more, Camera+ is a high-powered tool that makes your iPad camera really work for the creative photographer. ProCamera 8 + HDR has advanced high dynamic range, manual focus, and gray-card calibration features in another powerful app. Another great HDR tool is Pro HDR, as it adds caption capabilities, image blending, and more. Add a histogram to manual camera controls with Manual. Last, but not least, ProCam2 has self-timer functions, a night mode, and 4K Ultra HD video modes.

After you make your images, the iPad  has apps for photo editing. Adobe’s software is synonymous with photo post-production, and many of Photoshop’s capabilities are available on your iPad with Photoshop Express and Photoshop Touch. True story: I was at a venue in New Orleans and ended up standing next to a well-known fashion model and her friend. They, like many these days, were snapping a lot of selfies. Looking over their shoulders, I noticed that they were—no kidding—retouching the photos before posting them to the Internet. Want to whiten your teeth, smooth your skin, and remove red-eye from your selfies? FaceTune does all that and more to help you look your best.

Once you have post-processed your images, or smoothed your facial blemishes, you’ll want an app to allow you to share your images with the world. Despite my brother’s Luddite opinions, Instagram is the largest image-sharing app in the current world, with more than 300,000,000 monthly active users. With a more “serious” edge, 500px markets itself more toward the serious art side of photography and, the tried-and-true Flickr is still the home for sharing and viewing great imagery.

Whether you are using the iPad’s onboard camera or slinging your own light-capturing machine, the iPad gives you access to dozens of useful photography-related apps to help you get the shots you want. The Photographer’s Ephemeris and LightTrac are both amazing tools that give you not only worldwide sun/moon rise/set data, but also the azimuth and angle of the celestial bodies, to help you plan your images. Did you leave your handheld light meter at home? No worries! Pocket Light Meter and Light Meter measure reflected light and white balance. Add these apps and a Luxi dome, and turn your iPad into an incident light measuring tool. Is your model release form at home with your light meter? There is an app for that: Early Release – Model Release lets you get model releases on the fly so you can use your images for commercial purposes later on. Shipping large files to your friends and family? Dropbox is here to help you send files that are otherwise too large to text or email.

By the time you read this, it is likely that even more iPad photography apps have joined the party, so be sure to keep searching the App Store for the latest and greatest tools for all aspects of your photography needs.

CameraBag Easy Realease FilterStorm HelloPhoto LightKit PhotoShop Express Photo Sync

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Apps for Videographers

With a 2048 x 1536 Retina display, it’s hard to confute the statement that video looks amazing on the iPad. And when it comes to apps, the iPad is the ideal tool to run the latest and greatest applications. So, while scouring the apps related to video, I found a handful of them that really unlock the potential the iPad possesses.

Probably the most well known of the video apps is iMovie, which is a feature-packed video editing application that lets you create cool little video postcards and other creative clips. You can also use iMovie to quickly publish your work on the Web. What’s amazing is that you can create and publish your own movies without leaving that sandy beach, chilly ski lodge, or wherever you’ve been recording video. With iMovie, you can record a family member’s birthday party and send it to family overseas—all without leaving the party. You can record a video, start to edit it, then leave the project for a while and come back to it whenever and wherever you like. And with the help of a case that turns into a stand, you can comfortably create movies from anywhere, while also protecting your iPad during family vacations and sojourns with friends.

Although iMovie is fun and entertaining, it’s not really a professional app. However, there are dozens of professional video apps for creative individuals. For instance, the DSLR Slate app is designed for all levels of filmmakers, from college students to bona fide directors. I believe it’s at least as useful as an authentic film slate—probably even more so. Plus, since “slating” shots has become standard practice on sets, you’ll be able to streamline shot logging and post-production work. The app features a color chart and selectable running timecode, as well as more traditional input variables including: ISO speed, aperture, shutter speed, white balance, lens, filter, and more. It’s also useful even if you’re just performing shooting tests in diverse lighting conditions. Anyone serious about using the DSLR Slate app with their iPad would also benefit from a heavy-duty case. Some iPad-friendly gloves would be another helpful accessory when you’re shooting on location in January’s biting-cold and cutting wind.

The Retina display on the iPad is great for watching movies, but it’s also great for fleshing out visual ideas and working with video. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an app that film students, animators, directors, DPs, producers, writers, and art directors could use to work on storyboards and visualize their ideas? Luckily, Cinemek has developed the mobile Storyboard Composer, which lets you take any pictures you may have from location scouting and add clip art, camera movements, and more to generate storyboards for your upcoming shoots. Owners of the iPad will be able to use the Retina display to successfully visualize their own story, show, film, or idea. Plus, using the Storyboard Composer app in concert with a compatible Bluetooth keyboard will allow you to organize both your visual and written ideas from the comfort of wherever you happen to be.

The iPad can also come in handy when working on set with professional cameras and lighting fixtures using the pCam Film+Digital Calculator app, developed by camera assistant David Eubank. The app itself has been recognized by the Primetime Emmy Awards and the Society of Camera operators—and rightly so. It performs nearly any calculation you need to make on set, including depth-of-field calculations, field of view, light beam intensity, exposure, and even helps with filer selection. With support for a wide range of digital formats and film stocks, the app makes an ideal addition to any cinematographer’s, camera assistant’s, or operator’s virtual tool kit.

The last app in this article can be categorized somewhere between a pro video tool and a presentation aid. The ProPrompter app from Bodelin Technologies features software that allows you to use your iPad as a smooth-scrolling professional teleprompter. You can use the app to feed an actor lines or you can use it to help remember your own speech or presentation. If you have a 4G-connected iPad, you can load all your scripts via email from anywhere. And if you have a Wi-Fi iPad, you can email yourself scripts or speeches from any Wi-Fi hotspot. You can also use the free ProPrompter Producer website for unlimited script management. One advantage to using the ProPrompter website to manage your scripts and speeches, as opposed to email, is that the website affords greater security. If you want to edit a script that’s already loaded into the program, or even create an entirely new document, you can do that directly in the app. Anybody who wants to take full advantage of the ProPrompter app should also consider investing in an iPad case/stand combination with an integrated keyboard. And, if you want to really turn your iPad into a teleprompter, one of the iPad teleprompter kits may be worth looking into, as well.

As the introduction of this article stated, these apps are for creative people and professionals in the audio, photography and video/TV/film industries who own an iPad. Each app is available from the Apple App Store and there are literally thousands more where these came from. I believe all these apps to be of real value, unlike many that just take up space on your tablet’s flash memory. I also believe that all of these apps further the potential of the iPad, rather than limit it to being a multimedia device for entertainment. The iPad is fun, but it’s also a tool that virtually anyone in any industry can use to their advantage. Use yours wisely.

DSLR Slate iMovie ProPrompter Storyboard
Composer

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I was pretty skeptical about the iPad at the beginning. On one hand it was promising but on the other hand it was too limited to become a powerful and effective tool for demanding uses like music creation or intense professional use (my two area of interest for owning an ipad). However, the last iPad air is really interesting in terms of design and capacities. Its size allow an even more mobile device and its retina screen and general capacities have finished to convince me. I use it now for work (with the awesome all-in-one app for productivity  Beesy) and for musical creation with essentially Easybeats and Music Studio. Moreover, a very promising concept is beeing developed to turn a surface into a tactile interface.