While most people think of their iPads as a way to browse Facebook, check emails, and play games, various creative industries have taken to this extraordinary device and incorporated it into their workflows; they even use it to create artistic works for our pleasure.
Whether through apps, accessories, or both, there is an entire industry built around expanding the creative applications of the iPad. As each generation of tablet becomes more powerful the possibilities also expand significantly. That’s right, it turns out that the iPad is not just a fun and portable computer for checking out funny YouTube videos, it is a serious tool that creatives can use to up their game and keep making new stuff whenever and wherever they are.
Let the Music Play
These days new iPads ship with the Garageband app as standard, but in the early days this was a separate purchase. Since then Apple has realized that the iPad has become a serious production tool that has found a place in both amateur and professional studios across the world.
Apps such as Garageband and other digital music making programs allow musicians to create draft versions of song ideas that can immediately give the rest of the band or team an idea of what the final product should sound like. You can sit and doodle out a tune in a coffee shop and then mail the MP3 to your colleagues.
When it comes to synthesized music and electronic music production there are also a good number of professional-grade sequencers. Indeed, international mega group the Gorillaz famously released an album, right at the start of the iPad’s life in 2010, that was almost completely created using the Apple tablet and music apps. It showed everyone what was possible with the computer.
These days you can also buy some high-end equipment such as the iRig HD that incorporates iPads; they can be used live to create instrument effects or to play back samples. IPad footboards for live performances? You better believe it. You can buy whole MIDI keyboards that interface with an iPad. How’s that for a huge accessory?
But is it Art?
With the latest iPad Pro it now seems obvious that visual artists can use the iPad to create art pieces for all sorts of purposes, but this has actually been the case for a very long time. Speed paintings for film pre-production, sketched artwork using pressure sensitive pens, or simulated water colors are all possible with the iPad. Digital artists are now able to create the most amazing works, thanks to the horsepower of the latest iPads; they can also now manipulate photos without the need to ever touch a desktop computer.
Apps such as Procreate and products like the Adonit Jot Touch have made this all possible. So really, the Apple Pencil is merely continuing a tradition dating from the early days of the iPad. The 12.9” iPad Pro takes this to the next level. It definitely is a far cry from trying to create an artistic masterpiece through a 10” piece of glass.
The film industry, both indie and professional, has really embraced the iPad in all sorts of areas of film production. You can actually shoot and edit a film on your iPad without using anything else. That is, with the right talent and right add-ons of course.
Companies like Schneider optics provide professional add-on lenses for the tablet, and there are entire video rigs such as the padcaster that let you add a pro mike, lights, and all sorts of other things to it.
Of course, even if you don’t actually shoot footage with the iPad it has many other uses on set. There are plenty of pro-level iPad script writing apps that people swear by. Directors use them as live monitors or to review dailies.
iPads are also now starting to find a place in animation and even 3D modeling. You can even use some apps to do 3D scans of objects by using complex math to combine many different photos of a subject. A great example of this is the free 123D Catch from Autodesk.
One of the coolest ways I have seen iPads used is in combination with a cheap (well, relatively) teleprompter shroud. Dedicated teleprompters cost way more than any iPad and in this way you can actually have something just as good for a fraction of the price. Very clever indeed.
Genius at Play
It’s actually a little ironic when you think about it. Apple has always marketed its computers as being meant for creative people. Film editors, recording artists, publishers, and many other creative professionals have relied on Macs for decades to ply their respective trades.
It’s sort of weird, then, that it was up to these people to show Apple that their consumer device is actually more than just a web surfing machine. Maybe we should all look at our iPads and think about what we can do to make something more of them. Maybe a LEGO stop motion film or a cool original song to go with that family home video. It would be such a shame to waste all that potential and, who knows, maybe you could be the next Spielberg or Daft Punk?