TECH NEWS – Top Apps for Movie Lovers [updated]

Last Updated: April 19, 2014By Tags: , ,

(This is an ongoing series which will be updated with the latest iPad apps as they become available to the public.) Writing about apps for movie fandom can be self-defeating. As I found out after I got mine, iPad-specific applications are few and far between compared to the treasure trove of iPhone applications available out there (maybe the new retina-display version will inspire developers to cater to us more).

Each of the apps reviewed here received two kinds of scores (out of a possible ten points): Intuitiveness, namely, ease-of-use and navigability,  and sexy factor, ie., how much does design (color, layout, readability) enhance or detract from the user experience.

NEW: Tribeca Film Festival 2012 Guide (Tribeca Enterprises)

An iPad might just be the festival-goer’s best bet. The Tribeca Festival (find our coverage under FESTIVALS), with its glut of features, shorts, documentaries and special screenings (films on offer number in the hundreds) scattered around no fewer than 17 New York City locations can be overwhelming and euphoria-inducing at the same time. This iPad app brings law and order into the mix: search the library by title or location, check the schedules, connect with the movie’s Twitter or visit the site.

Breathing a sigh of relief? It gets better. Tribeca for the iPad also includes similar films to the one you chose; use the favorite button generously and then find them in the Favourites section (spelled in the Queen’s English, curiously enough). Search is enhanced by a proximity and time filter, so that if you’re near 14th and 3rd at 3pm, you’ll know if you have time to grab a macchiato before walking over to a nearby screening room. Suggested improvement: the interface design. It’s a little drab and utilitarian. A splash of color here, a neon curlicue there, and this app will be perfect (the app for the Doha edition of the Tribeca festival is pictured below and boasts color)

Intuitiveness: 10
The Sexy Factor: 4

iPad apps

NEW: Wigglehop (Plastic Trophy)

Wigglehop is a search-driven–perfect for movie fans in a hurry, like a situation-room for movie-goers with a movie jonez. Drill down to the theatre index either via one-click geolocalization or by punching in your zip code; each result is displayed  with its own map locator icon. Click on the friendly-looking “Admit One” tab and you’ll get squared away with a bright information grid–including days of the week and all the movies being played –that’s easy on the eyes.

The main feature around which Wigglehop was developed is the Plan tab, an option for sharing your movie plan. Except that the share interface, inspired from old-school embossed invitations, is really cool to look at and perfect for sharing with people you’re making movie plans with and you’re trying to impress at the same time. You can also post your movie plan to Facebook, email and messaging. The only minus about Wigglehop is that the display is portrait-only, so you don’t get to use your smart cover much for hands-free operation. Wigglehop is otherwise a fun-to-use that’s perfect for the productivity-driven film fan.

Intuitiveness: 10
The Sexy Factor: 7

Wigglehop software

Oscars Guide (Red Wind Software)

Trivia buffs are legion so you should watch out for them. They’re usually hiding in their cubicle; one minor provocation and they’re ready to trot out every Oscars nominee by category over a given period. This iPad will help for hand-to-hand combat with them.

As its name indicates, Oscars Guide compiles an extensive index of all past awardees and winners. It makes it easy to find information by year or category. Under the latter I chose “Best Original Score,” tapped on the 1960-1969 decade and selected the Maurice Jarre-composed score for Docteur Zhivago. And the year is …

One feature of Oscars Guide is their prediction survey. Several months ahead of the big night you can log in your prediction and find out how well you did by comparing with other users.

The only flaw with Oscars Guide (not affiliated with the Academy Awards or the MPAA) is the absence of actual content; this is an index app only. Supporting materials such as movie stills or music samples would have enhanced the search for that missing piece of Oscars history.

This is a great iPad app for movie buffs with a trivia jones. It includes the entire catalog of the Academy Awards, all the way to the first one, which took place on a Thursday in May of 1929. Douglas Fairbanks and William C. deMille hosted the show that night (their B&W montage intro must’ve lasted seconds).

Intuitiveness Factor: 10
The Sexy Factor: 6

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The New Yorker (Conde Nast)

Although subscription-based, The New Yorker for the iPad is the kind of application which will convince anyone who’s still feeling guilty over handing out five benjis for an iPad (“but Rory, what will I use it for?”) that they purchased the right gadget. The iPad is an excellent platform for the New Yorker, a marriage made in heaven, if you will. And a digital-only subscription to the New Yorker is $ 59, $ 20 cheaper than the print edition.

Most of our readers are familiar with the New Yorker, so I’ll not go into too much details. The trademark Miller Text Roman reads surprisingly well (anyone who works in my field knows that what fonts work on paper will not necessarily work digitally) and the navigation (across for a new feature, down to read through an article) is easy.

What makes the New Yorker for iPad a must-have app is all the extra elements, like sound and video files, that have been added to the essays. Many of the poems and fiction pieces include a sound file of the author reading their work. There’s plenty of video to be discovered, too, often produced in documentary format.

One such video feature is about Bob Bozic, the Croatian barman/boxer from Fanelli’s Cafe in the Village; the story was a bit long and dense but the black and white video interview of him was a welcome diversion (or enhancement, depending on how you look at it), and it’s nice to be able to put a face and a voice on Bozic, a larger-than-life character as you may come to find out.

Each feature in the New Yorker for iPad comes with its own Share button (Facebook, Twitter and email). That’s noteworthy because, moving forward, there will be no more copying the comics hidden away in the copy room so that you can email them to an ex-girlfriend in the hope she’ll recognize herself in it; hit the Share button and you’re done.

Intuitiveness Factor: 8
The Sexy Factor: 6

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iStop Motion for iPad (Boinx Software)

This. Is. Awesome. iStop Motion lets you produce your own stop-motion features (Wallace and Gromit and Fantastic Mr. Fox are examples of this genre) on your iPad and play them back or upload them online. The idea with stop-motion animation is to make a physically-manipulated object appear like it’s moving on its own. Using either of your iPad’s cameras (you can even add a third, remote camera), photograph an object in small increments as you’re manipulating it (using clay makes it easier). Add a soundtrack, save your movie and upload it to Youtube.

Intuitiveness Factor: 10
The Sexy Factor: 10

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DiscovrMovie (Rovi Corporation)

This search-driven application uses the six degrees of Kevin Bacon meme to help you find something to watch tonight.
I typed Limelight in the search box. I was expecting to find the Charlie Chaplin movie but instead I got the Rakonteur-produced documentary (read Sam Weisberg’s review) about the New York City nightclub. Other movies generated included 54, 24-hour party people, American Swing and a VH1 documentary about the aforementioned Studio 54. For relevance and consistence, DiscovrMovie rates highly.

It’s all tapping from there. Tap and hold to add a title to Favorites, tap twice for trailers and a synopsis, and tap once to deploy more related movie suggestions. Tap enough and the Discovr maps evolve into a cinematic genome, like a tree turbocharged on some freak Monsanto bug. Pinch to reduce size, make more room and keep on tapping.

Searching for Amelie led me to The Science of Sleep (among six total possible movies) and that led me to Medianeras and Annie Hall. Guess I hit the quirky-protagonist-searching-for-love strain.

Also features “In cinemas” and “Our Picks” categories.

Intuitiveness Factor: 8
The Sexy Factor: 7

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CINEMA (Edition29)

Developer’s Soundbite: [Cinema] is not about reviews, it is a place that shows off cinema and lets various related participants take us for a closer look at their world.

Cruise on over to the menu. The first thing you’ll notice is the kind of sophistication in design which would make Tim Gunn proud. Leaf through, and then tap. Images and content categories (Interviews, chronicles , trailesr) are arranged in a refined yet simple fashion making Cinema easy to navigate. Content is organized much like a glossy magazine. In fact, Edition29’s Cinema is like leafing through a design magazine, with gorgeous pictures. The White Stripes’ documentary Under Great White Northern Lights includes black & white stills. The issue I downloaded on my iPad had ten stories.

Go on over to the article on Inception, and director Chris Nolan narrates his motivation for making the film.

Want to watch some video? Hit “trailer” and choose Animal Kingdom.

CINEMA could easily become the movie-buff’s compagnon, except for one detail: there have been no more issues published since the first one. A flurry of Tweets were sent to launch that one, but what’s happened since? The publisher was reached for this article, and told me that they’ve had a great response for the first issue and that another one is in the works.

Intuitiveness Factor: 8
The Sexy Factor: 10

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3 Comments

  1. Chris Murdock March 30, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Great read. Will be interesting to see how the stop motion program works.

  2. Michael Dowell March 30, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Terrific article – thanks for posting. I am very excited about cinema 29 & the oscars guide. Ditto on the idea that stills and footage would be a welcome addition to the app. Can’t wait to try out iStopMotion.

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