Review: Cinemek Storyboard Composer HD, by Cinemek Inc.
Cinemek Storyboard Composer HD, by Cinemek Inc. (universal binary)
$29.99, **** (sort of)
• Can develop a full movie story board to help film a movie
• Multiple ways to develop, enhance, and improve your storyboard
• Lacks some obvious features (at least that I think are obvious)
• No tutorial or help options
First off, a caveat – I am not a film maker, nor am I at all involved in the film making process. So my review of this app is purely as a non-professional who may want to create some polished home movies (or make some entertaining movies with my kid). Professionals may have a different opinion about the strengths and weaknesses of this app. The app is a universal binary, but the images from the iPad version.
Cinemek Storyboard Composer HD (which I will just refer to as “Storyboard Composer” from now on) is a universal binary to help an aspiring director, writer, or producer develop a movie. For those unfamiliar with the concept of a storyboard, basically before you film any movie, you go through and create a storyboard of the movie – a scene by scene, shot by shot list of what you want to do. So this app is supposed to help you create a storyboard for a movie, which you then use to help guide you filming/creating the movie.
Figure 1 - Add multiple images (from your library or the camera) to create a storyboard for each scene in your movie. I am planning for Daleks to attack Batman's giant penny.
You start off by adding scenes in the overall scene view. Once a scene is added, you can go in and populate the various shots you want to add. You add images, representing each of the shots you want to take. Maybe the scene starts off with a broad view of the mountains, than pans left to a small house, and zooms in on the house. You can then cut to a person sitting at the table in the house, maybe they are cleaning a gun (ooohhh, sounds like a western!). In any case, you can use this app to create the storyboard – outlining shot by shot what you want to do.
Figure 2 - Add effects like pan and zoom to each image, to replicate the planned movement of the camera.
To add images to the story board, you can either use the photo library on your device, or you can take pictures with the camera (note, no selfies since you can’t choose the camera facing you). Once the image is in the storyboard for the scene, you can label the portion of the scene or the shot itself. You have a variety of tools available to add film effects to the image as well – you can pan across, you can zoom in or out on parts of the image, you can add a silhouette of a person, you can add text to the image to represent something you can’t shot. You can even indicate the length of time to stay on a specific image within the scene (indicating how long you think that shot will stay the same). In case you move back and forth between shots (such as moving between the point of view for two scene participants) you can duplicate images within the same scene. Lastly, if there is something you can’t add you can add audio commentary to the image via the microphone.
Figure 3 - You can't draw or scribble on the images directly, which is a limitation. You can add silhoettes for people, though.
When the set of images for a scene are finished, you can view the scene as you have created it. You can add more scenes, or you can view what you have done. You also have the option of exporting the scene to a PDF, quicktime movie, or email the entire storyboard to someone (look out Spielberg!).
Figure 4 - Someone always gets eaten in a good dinosaur movie.
One thing that I found odd that was not included was any sort of lack of image editing tool – you can’t draw on an image, annotate anything, or add any animation. In some cases, I would image adding a moving arrow from left to write would really help the storyboard (showing the direction of motion, for example). There also isn’t any ability to add a blank (white) image that you can draw on – so everything you add needs to either be a photo or something in your photo library. Now, you can use a drawing app to create drawing that you will include, but it seems like that functionality would be easy to include in this app – even something like just creating line drawings and stick figures.
Figure 5 - Once you finish your storyboard, you have mutliple export options available, including as a quicktime movie.
Now, I am approaching this app as a non-professional. So in my mind, I would have liked to have some sort of tutorial or help option. There isn’t anything like that readily available on the app, although there are tutorial videos available online on the Cinemek website. In one instance, when I went to try to make some additional scenes and selected pictures from my photo library to include, nothing happened. I tapped on the photo multiple times, but nothing was added. I didn’t know if I was doing something wrong, or if it was a glitch in the app (it seemed to fix itself when I restarted the app). Later on I had the same issue, so I suspect it is a glitch in the app.
All in all, this seems to be a pretty good storyboard app, at least for this non-professional. If you really want to start creating “movies”, as opposed to simply filming things on your iPhone, this app may help take you to the next level. There were some possible glitches in the app, and some features that I thought we be useful, but there are many included options to help someone storyboard a movie. One major issue is the price. At $29.99, this is not a cheap, let’s try it to see if it works, kind of app. For professionals who would really use it, the price is probably worth it, but for amateurs and people who just want to fool around, it is not worth the price. For people who want to take the next step in their iPhone movie making, the app may be a worth the cost. As such, for people who are really into movie making, I give it four out of five stars. For people who are not as “dedicated” to the craft, I give it two out of five stars, mostly due to the cost.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating. Please comment on these reviews. All opinions expressed in this review are precisely that – opinions. You may agree or disagree. If you own the app, tell me what your opinion is. If the review prompted you to buy (or not buy) the app, let me know why. If you want more information about the app, go ahead and ask.