Dean West / Comcast

Had a blast working with Dean West on his recent Comcast campaign.


Client: AA / Nexos Magazine
Photographer: Jeff Schear
DIT: Grant Hodgeon
Retoucher: Bryan York

Smooth Mouse

I’ve gone through a lot of mice in my lifetime. From the Mac Puck, Logitech MX Revolution, Magic Mouse all the way to my favourite gaming mouse, the Razer Diamondback. One thing that has always been a sore spot in my transition to the Mac was the dull feeling the cursor has on the screen. It felt heavy, it felt slow. Increasing the tracking speed improved the middle of the curve in terms of acceleration but it was still too slow at the ends of the curve (starting and stopping the cursor movement).

Until! Stumbling upon this magical piece of software. SmoothMouse aims to fix the acceleration ‘issue’ with the Mac, and boy does it work. This doesn’t replicate the feeling in Windows/Linux but it’s damn close.

Website / Download

Must Have iPhone Apps for Assistants & Photographers

The invention of the smart phone changed the landscape of photography. The introduction of a high quality (and ever improving) camera in your pocket was huge, and just the start of what was to come. The power of a computer in the palm of your hand opened up the flood gates to thousands of utilities that help in all aspects of a production. Here’s a short list of my most used iPhone Apps for Assistants and Photographers.

If you have any additional suggestions give me a shout via Twitter @photogrant

TPE – The Photographers Ephemeris 

TPE is more than just a sunrise/sunset app. It allows you to, based on location, find the sun or moons location in the sky. Absolutely paramount for location shooting. A great side-tool for location scouting. TPE Also lets you calculate shadow distance, fall off and direction based on location and height. It also gives detailed information on all twilight times (civil/nautical/astronomical).


The Grip App

This is a fantastic basic reference guide for all things grip. If you don’t know your High Boy from your Low Boy, your Giraffe Crane from your Felix Crane, or your Clove Hitch from your Alpine Butterfly, this is something you’ll probably want in your arsenal. The Grip App is also a great reference for load bearing hardware with all the specs you’ll need to safely construct your sets. I like to browse through it for a refresher en-route to locations.


Dark Sky

Weather is a tough, unpredictable devil . Everyone has their favourite weather app, and this one is mine. I cannot say for certain that it is more accurate than any other weather app but it’s great at giving a quick look at the chance of rain in the next hour and it’s surprisingly accurate at that. Perfect for when you see the clouds in the distance and you get that extra bit of warning to secure your gear and prepare the waterproofing. The point here is that by-the-minute weather updates are available with the advent of smart phones and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t have their own favourite little weather app.


Google Voice

This is just paramount if you’re like me and prefer to keep your private number private and give away a public number to clients. Google Voice will allow you to screen calls, ignore calls, block numbers, send and receive text messages. It’s also got a surprisingly good spam filter.

The best part about Google Voice is that it allows you to set up a number with an area code of your choosing. Trying to break it in NY? Set up a NY Area Code number to appear like a local and nail those interviews.


Calendars 5

I love Calendars 5 because it allows me to enter in an event using real words and it’ll do all the hard work for me. “Meeting on Friday at 2” will throw an event on Friday at 2pm. It’s much more powerful than that but that’s the reason I love it! Scheduling other assistants or simply keeping tabs of your own bookings… Having some form of calendar on the go is essential to knowing if you can take a gig, ice it, or simply refer a friend to do the job when you’re not available. I’ve tried countless Calendars applications and this one fits me the best.


Drafts 4

I always have to jot down quick notes. If a photographer is telling me what potential items might be needed during a tech scout I can open up Drafts faster than any other app and begin typing immediately. It’s my go-to notes app and lives right on my home-bar as one of the most used tools on my phone. The premium price comes with premium features – the ability to connect your notes to any social network, any iPhone service, or easily integrating with reminders/events or messages. Drafts is clean and simple on the surface and extremely powerful when you need it.


Camera (iOS8)

Need an overlay of how a room looks? Need to photograph the particulars of a setup? Instagramming clouds en-route to location? The iOS 8 Camera app is stellar. The ability to manually adjust brightness has been the biggest revelation to the camera app since the iPhone began… In my opinion.


Free ($9.99 for Premium)

I have multiple photographers that trust me with their login information. This allows me to do my job quickly, efficiently and without the need to be babysat. I’m not a fan of being a security risk to the people that trust me with this information so anything of value is stored in my 1Password encrypted vault.

It’s really changed the way in which I deal with multiple logins, multiple passwords and security in general. I have absolutely no idea what any of my passwords are because they’re 30-40 characters in length and generated at random.



There’s 2 reasons I love moves, and one of them is OT. Sometimes I forget to log my OT. Sometimes the week has been so long that when I go back trying to work it out, it’s a blurry mess. Moves logs every step you take. It also logs where you took those steps. Hell, it even logs whether you took a car, public transport, ran or rode a bike. It’s very clever.

I use Moves to see when I arrived at a location and when I left. So I can easily jump back to Tuesday and see that I left the Photographer’s studio at 8pm and the mystery is solved!



Without a doubt the best, most attractive and accurate public transport app I’ve ever used. I’ve owned this app since its inception and it just gets better and better with every release. My favourite thing about Transit is its ability to show you on the map in real time where the bus or train is compared to where  you are. It’s allowed me to make my own decisions on whether or not I should leave now or in an extra few minutes.



If you’re shooting downtown and don’t want to hassle yourself with the premium parking, or you’re just in a pinch and need something cheap and fast. Uber has become an important asset in my working life. Despite the companies less than stellar morals and despite the fairly consistent negative spotlight the media has on Uber, it really has changed the landscape of efficient and cheap transport.


FrEE | $9.99 / Mo

I am the King DJ on set. I have a reputation for it. If I hear a certain kid on set likes a certain song, or I hear the clients mentioning a certain era or genre of music, I’ll be sure to find it on Spotify and people are still enamoured and impressed by it. This helps create a more inviting and fun set and it allows everyone to be a little more relaxed and ultimately, however small, helps get the shot the Photographer is looking for — and that’s all that matters. For $10 a month you’d be hard pressed to say no to this.


Passbook (Flights)

When you’re flying with a Photographer to shoot in another country, state, etc. You’re already carrying and worrying about a lot of equipment and paperwork. Most notably the dreaded Carnet. I LOVE Passbook because I can store my boarding pass on there and not have to worry about another piece of paper to keep at hand. Boarding passes loaded into Passbook also have up-to-date information on gates, delays and so forth so you’re always going to be in the know for when the Photographer ultimately wants to know which gate you need to be at and whether the clients on the other end of the flight need to be informed of any delays, etc.


Knots 3D

Going to a location, sitting in a bathroom, or just solely dedicating a few hours to it, you need to know your knots. In the past I spent way too long just granny knotting the shit out of stuff and basically destroying the rope to release whatever I’d tied down for the journey, or secured from the wind. It’s lazy and it’s wasteful and it’s actually not very secure. Learning your Bowline, your Half Hitch, your Alpine Butterfly and so forth will allow you to become a more competent and safer assistant. Knots 3D gives you a very extensive and detailed overview of all the types of knots you could think of. It’s worth the price of admission.


Easy Release – Model Release

You’re on a shoot and the Photographer needs a release… drat! They forgot their releases — you’ve just made an insanely good impression when you pull out your phone, allow the model to have a polaroid taken, a signature signed and a PDF of the completed model release sent to both Photographer and themselves. It’s really one of those ‘gotcha’ moments that will stick in any Photographers mind when you think proactively like that.

Pro tip: Knowing you have a job ahead of time you should spend that 5-10 minutes filling out all the custom details in the app to reflect the photographer for that day. Sure, it might never get used but having everything ready prior to a single photograph being taken goes a long way to showing a proficient and professional assistant.



Hidden within the Compass app on the iPhone is Level. Swipe to the left with Compass open and Level will reveal itself. If you’re required to diagram the shoot for future shot-matching, this is an additional tool that allows you accuracy with those measurements.


Google Maps

Google Maps offers  best in class turn-by-turn directions thanks to their recent purchase of Waze they also have a pretty accurate grasp on traffic and will sometimes redirect you to a more efficient route. Sadly it’s not always looking to do that so I’m experimenting with other GPS software in hope of something more feature rich.

The next round-up will be iPhone apps geared towards DIT’s.

On-Set Efficiency: The Hyper Key Part 1

This is the first in a series of posts on how to customise your workflow in order to be a more efficient power-user on set.

How often do you use the caps lock key? If, instead, you like to shift + character your way through upper-case letters, then this post will help you remap your caps lock key to become a much more powerful asset to your daily workflow.

Countless times my ability to work efficiently on set has been hindered by the lack of a quick and easy keyboard shortcuts. The following post will show you a number of tools that once combined, will allow you to use Caps-Lock as a ‘Hyper’ key. An additional key that acts similar to how the shift key operates, except you’re now able to introduce a new layer of keyboard shortcut commands.

The magical tools that allows this to happen are Karibiner and Seil . An extremely powerful set of remapping tools that we only intend to scratch the very surface of. 

Once both are installed, open Seil and set the Caps Lock key to key code 80.

The next step is to open Karibiner, head over to the Misc & Uninstall tab and open ‘private.xml’

Paste the following into ‘private.xml’, save it and head back into Karibiner.

<?xml version="1.0"?>

		<name>F19 to F19</name>
		<appendix>(F19 to Hyper (ctrl+shift+cmd+opt) + F19 Only, send escape)</appendix>
			ModifierFlag::OPTION_L | ModifierFlag::SHIFT_L | ModifierFlag::CONTROL_L,

Once there you need to head to the Change Key tab and click Reload XML

The Caps Lock key is now a Hyper key! You’re now using one key that works as if you were pressing Shift + Command + Option + Control at the same time. The very best way to take advantage of this is to use a keyboard utility such as BetterTouchTool. I’ve currently got BetterTouchTool binding my most used apps as a quick-open shortcut. If I want to open Capture One, I’d hit Caps Lock + C.

Thanks to Brett Terpstra for the blog post. Without him this post wouldn’t exist.


– Seil
– Karibiner
– BetterTouchTool
– A useful Caps Lock key

The next post in this series will show you how I use this setup in my DIT/Capture One workflow.

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