I thought it would be beneficial to pull back the curtain a little bit and show you what business apps and programs I use regularly in my video production business. It took a long time to whittle these down to just 9. Of course, I use a huge amount of business apps throughout the day in my business (both with my production companies and here on Filmmaking Lifestyle).
I wanted to suggest apps that were a little outside of the ordinary. That way, readers can discover something new and maybe have a brainwave here and there.
When I started this article I realized there are a number of apps and programs that as video production professionals (and filmmakers), we probably take for granted.
For instance, I didn’t see much point in mentioning video editing software like Final Cut Pro X, Adobe After Effects, Premiere, etc etc. It goes without saying that if you’re running a successful video production company that you (or someone on your team) is using editing software in some form everyday.
Without further ado, here are 9 Awesome Apps that I use daily in my video production business:
Do you struggle to keep your leads organized? Do you find yourself confusing prospects and what stage of negotiation you’re in?
If you are having difficulty keeping track of your leads, or you just think it’s time for an easier and more streamlined solution, then you should check out Hubspot CRM. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, by the way.
I’ve been using this app for a while now to keep track of my leads and the various stages they’re in. The system is simple and offers a straight-forward left to right workflow, where each lead gets moved across various boxes that indicate a different stage in your sales cycle.
So you might have pipeline like this: Contacted Once, Contacted Twice, Negotiating, Closed – Won, Closed Not Interested, etc.
You add contacts to your pipeline and Hubspot gives you the ability to add all sorts of important information to each lead – everything from name and email address to shoot date and expected close deadline.
I highly recommend you give Hubspot a look if you are scaling up your business and finding that pen and paper and the notes app on your phone are starting to lack.
If you don’t like the look of Hubspot, there are plenty of other CRMs out there.
Trello is the only to-do list type app you’ll ever need.
There, I said it. But it’s also so much more than just a to-do list app.
Trello uses a very simple system of boards on a screen and a left to right, drag and drop system of ‘cards’ that have your tasks written on them. But don’t be fooled by the simplicity. This simple idea is genius and has to be experienced in practice to really understand just how powerful it is.
I use Trello for day-to-day tasks, weekly tasks and monthly tasks. I also use it to form a ‘birds eye view’ of tasks and projects for the coming months. For that reason, it’s a great project management overview solution as well. The simplicity and movement aspect of the app is strangely addictive and will definitely make you more productive if you use it regularly.
Further, it can be used to track leads in a similar way that the Hubspot app (mentioned above) can.
Sold on it? Here’s a cool way you can setup Trello to make you more productive in your work (and personal) life starting today.
I won’t say too much about Trello as I do plan on writing a feature length article all about this fantastic app. I do so much with Trello both in my business and personal life.
Don’t just take my word for it:
Cost: Free (premium add-ons available).
When you’ve been running a video production for long enough, you notice patterns emerging. A good example of this is the wedding videography market: I’m sure you’ve heard this one, “How do I pay the deposit?”
For questions like that, TextExpander is great. It allows you to write short lines that expand into full answers. For instance, you might type “deposit” and it’ll turn into your full stored answer about deposits. From there, you can always edit the text to fit the specific situation if required.
TextExpander has come into handy when responding to emails sent about Filmmaking Lifestyle, too. When you’re getting a lot of email, an app like TextExpander is a real timesaver.
Great tool for helping you answer you email more quickly and efficiently.
Cost: $44.95 (Free Trial available).
Like I said at the start of this article, I didn’t want to mention the obvious apps like FCPX, Premiere, After Effects and all the standard filmmaking apps that are a given in any flourishing production company. But MPEG Streamclip, whilst editing related, is a little different.
Whether or not it’s the best app of its type currently out there is up for debate, but it’s my favorite app for converting footage into a range of different formats.
I first discovered this free little app many moons ago back when Philip Bloom first mentioned it as being a great footage convertor for DSLR camera users. I’m pretty sure Philip’s now recommending a different software solution now, but I’m still using MPEG Streamclip.
It’s simple, effective and gets the job done fast. I find it’s super handy for converting footage of all types, but especially footage straight off a DSLR into Apple Prores.
If you’re recording any off-camera sound (which you should be), you’ll need something to synch that audio with the video you’ve recorded. PluralEyes will synch sound to video from a number of sound sources all at once. In fact, you can through pretty much anything at this robust little app and it’ll synch is for you beautifully.
I’d urge everyone to go out there and buy this awesome little app. For synching sound, I’ve not found anything that beats it.
Cost: $299 (Free Trial available).
On a different wavelength, here’s a great app for writing. Scrivener offers many different options for saving and categorising different pieces of writing, as well as being a great solution for undistracted writing.
This app is getting more and more popular, but for a long while it was a virtual unknown. People normally just use the obvious writing solutions that they’re given as a kid, like Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, etc.
Scrivener is so much more than “another Word,” though. With the ability to set ideas and thoughts into card formations, you can use Scrivener as a way to organise and plan just about anything.
Here’s a video showing how Scrivener can be used to flesh out character ideas when planning a screenplay:
Of course, it’s not just a screenwriting tool. I use it specifically for organising ideas, planning out projects and shoots, and generally as an information storage area for various writing projects. The easily searchability of Scrivener is a big pro, plus I can easily move ideas and thoughts around, as well as combine them together. It’s pretty cool for writing blog posts just like this one.
As another “collecting information” option, check out the ever-popular Evernote. Evernote has many of the same features and a couple of ones that Scrivener doesn’t. Your mileage may vary and I’m trying to keep this list small.
Ever struggle to find things on your computer? Alfred is a handy little app that makes finding things on your Mac a heckuva lot easier.
Alfred makes searching on your Mac a lot easier. It also pretty much eliminates the functionality of the built-in Spotlight feature. As well as that, you can “program” Alfred to perform any number of tasks – a kind of “if this, then that” solution. And no, you don’t need to be a programmer or anything like that.
Still a little confused? This video offers a great introduction:
As filmmakers, we are constantly working with lots and lots of different files. I’m sure you struggle to find things more than once a day, right? Alfred makes this much easier.
If you’re a Windows user, check of Launchy, which does a similar job.
Cost: Free (premium add-ons available)
I’ve mentioned Streak here on Filmmaking Lifestyle before. It’s now a mainstay in my video business toolset, as it’s so darn powerful.
Streak is essentially a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) made to fit your email program of choice.
I use Gmail and Streak fits in beautifully with my Gmail setup. It allows you to add ‘boxes’ and ‘pipelines’ to your email account, so that you can track exactly where a client is in your sales pipeline. We discussed that in the sales section. When your sales process with a client moves into the next stage, Streak will add them to the next section of your pipeline.
Very cool and very easy to use!
As well as tracking the sales process, Streak also allows you to track the open rates of your email. What this means is that you can actually tell if a person has opened your email, what time they did, where they were, what device they used (!!) and even what they had for breakfast before they opened the email!
Okay, I jest with the last one. You can’t tell what a person had for breakfast before they opened your email!
Here’s the thing: this makes keeping track of whether people are receiving your email (read: not going into their junk mail folder by mistake) much easier. Worried that a potential client didn’t receive your reply to an enquiry? Concerned someone might not have received your quote as it had a large attachment? Streak solves all these problems and more.
And the price? Free!
Check it out.
If everything fails, you need to have a backup plan. We’ve talked about it before and data loss is an ever present albatross hanging over any company/professional who deals with large amounts of media.
Don’t be caught short: you need to backup your files, especially client work. I mentioned in the media storage article (linked to above) that having your important data stored in at least two places (two separate locations) is a minimum requirement, but having an online backup service gives you extra peace of mind.
That’s where Crashplan comes in. I mentioned this list of 9 apps would cover things I use every day. I might not actively use it everyday, but Crashplan ticks away unseen in the background…backing up everything.
There are many different options and Crashplan caters for every requirement.
Cost: $5 per month / $10 per month (Free Trial available).
Sleep Cycle measures how much you sleep, the quality of that sleep and much more.
It sits quietly on your phone as you sleep, carefully keeping track of your movements. Ah, yeah, I should mention that you need to keep your phone fairly close to you as you sleep. Doesn’t have to be too close, but the app needs to use the vibration movements from the phone to track the data.
Sleep Cycle doesn’t just monitor your sleep, it gives you cool graphs so you can see in visual form how well (or not well!) you slept. It tracks data daily and gives weekly, monthly, yearly and all time graphs. It tracks average time in bed, average bedtime, average wakeup time, movements and a whole load of other stuff which it puts into graph form.
Sleep Cycle tracks people’s sleep in hundreds of countries, so there’s a cool feature where you can compare your sleep to the national averages all over the world.
To top it all off: it’s also a darn cool alarm! Yes, say goodbye to abrasive ringing alarms, this app has a range of sounds for the alarm, but I stuck with the default one which is a pretty chilled chimey alarm that eases you slowly into the day.
So what business apps do you use? Have you used these and found them to be as awesome as I have? What’s missing from my list? In sharing app recommendations as a community, we discover new things that can change our businesses (and lives) for the better. Mention your favorites in the comments below!