Imaginative new iPad Apps for Creative Professionals


The relevance of Apple’s new iPad (third generation) 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 apparent 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 V-Control App.

V-Control allows you to operate your DAW session remotely from a vocal booth, live room, Foley stage, the couch, or anywhere else your new iPad has Wi-Fi connectivity. The app works with Pro Tools, Logic 9, Cubase/Nuendo, FL Studio, Tracktion, Studio One, Reaper, Reason, Ableton Live and Sonar. With V-Control, you’ll be able to use your iPad touch interface to adjust multiple faders simultaneously—similar to a mixing console or hardware control surface. The app features track metering as well, which lets you keep an eye on signal levels no matter where you are in the studio. Some of the other mixing features afforded by V-Control include: faders, panning knobs, mute, solo, aux sends and track arming for every session. There are also useful automation shortcuts for quick and easy access to functions, as well as a full feature editing command window and comprehensive controls for session transport, looping, locations and markers. No matter the session size, the V-Control app can handle it.

If you use V-Control with your new iPad, several accessories including mic-stand mounts, music-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 panels, diffusers, bass traps, booths, baffles, enclosures, cloud 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. Besides 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 even 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 even 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 vControl

Click app icon for additional images

Apps for Photographers

For photographers, the new iPad can be an extraordinary tool in your arsenal. Whether you use it for lighting, editing pictures or displaying your work, a new iPad is like a Swiss Army Knife for working photographers. It’s multi-dimensional and isn’t limited to a single task. I think it functions more like an assistant than a tool with a singular purpose.

Photographers shooting miniatures, pack shots and other smaller scale subjects can take advantage of the Lightkit app. Lightkit transforms your new iPad into a lighting system that’s capable of casting a perfectly balanced reflection onto your subject. The app offers 12 different light sources that you can blend with the general lighting conditions around your subject. An app like Lightkit really shows the flexibility that an iPad can provide the working photographer. Other tools that you can use with the Lightkit app include a light meter, a lighting umbrella, an iPad tripod mount or a light stand to mount the iPad up in a fixed position.

One of the more unique and interesting photography apps available today is the CameraBag app. This application enhances your photos using any number of classic camera and film simulations. Owning a new iPad with the CameraBag app installed is similar to walking around with a dozen classic and rare cameras in your bag. The app creates spectacular results by emulating the styles and processes from some of the most interesting vintage cameras. I would argue that it essentially enhances the mood of an image. Helga, Colorcross and Magazine are a few of the camera simulations afforded by the CameraBag app. Helga is a square-format toy camera that produces images with washed-out highlights and old-school vignetting. Colorcross lends a hazy, chemical color-swapping effect that’s straight from the darkroom. And Magazine, like its name suggests, recreates images with rich tones, perfect for the glossy pages of your favorite rag. To be sure, a quality photo printer would really bring all your classic images to life.

I’ve also come across an ambiguous application called HelloPhoto. With my curiosity sparked, I launched an investigation to find out what HelloPhoto was all about. After a brief introduction with the app on my own iPad, I discovered that this clever app can resurrect—and effectively—old photos taken on slides and negatives. Essentially, it uses modern digital technology to revive a fading art form. Any photo purists nostalgically pining over a bygone era can now happily dig out their old folders of negatives or dust off their box of slides, download HelloPhoto and get to work bringing the past back to life. Once your old images are revived, it may be nice to edit them in the digital realm, which is why some editing software might be a welcome accessory when working with the HelloPhoto app.

Continuing the search, I realized that there are a ton of photo-related apps out there. Unfortunately I can’t talk about all of them, so I’ve picked a couple more apps that got my attention. First, for any working photographers who constantly need model and property-release forms filled out, the Easy Release app is for you. Easy Release provides all your essential forms in digital format, which saves you the trouble of carrying around folders full of paper. Not only can models affix their signature right onto the digital document, they can also attach a photo to the document, so all the information you need is contained in one place. Plus, you can make the signature process more accurate by providing the models with a digital pen to literally sign on the digital line.

Second, there’s Filterstorm and Adobe Photoshop Express for editing. Filterstorm contains a suite of powerful editing tools that includes curve manipulation, color correction, noise reduction, sharpening and vignetting. The app also supports black-and-white conversion fine tuning, as well as the ability to apply any of the available filters by brush, color range and gradient. Adobe Photoshop Express facilitates quick and easy shot adjustment by simply swiping your fingers across the iPad display to crop, rotate or adjust color. You can also add artistic filters like Soft Focus or Sketch. The app makes it easy to undo and redo changes until you’ve got it just right—all while saving the original copy. The Photoshop app provides access to as well, where you can display your images without having to save them to your new iPad’s internal memory. Plus, the app even makes it easy to post your edited images on Facebook and Flickr.

Finally, I decided to include an app called PhotoSync. PhotoSync is definitely one of the more useful and pragmatic apps available. It lets you wirelessly transfer one or thousands of images at once from your iPad to your computer. Plus, it does it all in the background so you can keep watching a movie, playing a game or surfing the Web while your images are transferred. There’s even an automatic setting which you can use to set a default computer as your transfer destination, then all you have to do is push the new iPad sync button to pull your images from your tablet onto your computer. The app lets you arrange everything in folders and files, as well as share photos on your favorite social networking sites.

CameraBag Easy Realease FilterStorm HelloPhoto LightKit PhotoShop Express Photo Sync

Click app icon for additional images

Apps for Videographers

It’d be impossible to confute the statement that video looks amazing on the new iPad. With Full HD video capture and a magnificent 2048 x 1536 Retina display, there’s not a more visually stunning tablet out there. And when it comes to apps, the new 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 new 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 make a recording, start to edit it, then leave the project for a while and come back to it whenever and wherever you like. iMovie may not be a professional videographer’s go-to app, but it is fun to use. And with the help of a case that turns into a stand, you can comfortably create movies from anywhere, while also protecting your new 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 new iPad would also benefit from a heavy-duty case with enhanced grips. 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 new 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 a mobile Storyboard Composer app with a pre-visualization composer component as well. Although it’s not overflowing with accommodating features or a few extra ways to use it, this application does one job very well. Owners of the new iPad will be able to use the beautiful 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 ideas and your written ideas from the comfort of wherever you happen to be.

Your new iPad can also come in handy if working to set up your own lighting. The PocketLD app, which is also available from the Apple App Store, is a brilliant little application that can determine the beam/field diameter and fc/lux for any selected fixture of lamp. All you need to do is enter any throw distance into the program and the PocketLD does the rest. The app includes a library of over 1,000 fixture/lamp combinations, and you can sort them into “Favorite Fixture” folders for fast and easy recall. The “Fixture” section clearly displays the fixture name, wattage, color temperature, lamp life, beam angles and field angles. The “Lamp” section features a lamp description with wattage and voltage. Any theater or TV/film lighting professionals with an iPad would be crazy not to download this app. Not only is it an ingenious idea, but it also won the Live Design Software Product of the Year Award recently. Indie filmmakers with their own lighting fixtures and professional lamps would also benefit from the PocketLD app.

The last app in this article falls somewhere between a pro video tool and a presentation aid. The ProPrompter app from Bodelin Technologies features software that allows you to use your new 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 that wants to take full advantage of the ProPrompter app should also consider investing in a new 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 a new iPad or even an iPad 2. 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 new iPad, rather than limit it to being a multimedia device for entertainment. The new 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 PocketLD ProPrompter Storyboard

Click app icon for additional images

Add new comment

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.