Michael Zinman, author of iSwitch DMX for the iPhone and iPod touch has released a new program on the App Store for calculating gel cutting. It may sound silly at first, but if you think about it how much gel do you throw away as off cuts? It’s probably a lot more than you would like, especially given its price. Wouldn’t it be great to get the biggest yield of gel per sheet, reducing waste and cost? Step forward Gel Calc!
Gel Calc! will quickly calculate the number of sheets required and the best cutting direction to give you the maximum number of frames. It will also budget your gel requirements by telling you exactly how much all the gel is going to cost you. To use this feature you simply enter the cost you pay per sheet and any tax you pay.
The application includes over 60 common frame sizes which you can quickly switch between using the scroll wheel and you can also add custom sizes manually. Once you’ve selected your frame size and how many frames you require, Gel Calc! will tell you how to cut the gel to obtain the greatest yield and how many sheets or rolls you will need to use.
There are global settings where you can set prices and gel dimensions to save you time when loading up the applications, and it also includes the dimensions of the main gel manufacturers in the lookup table.
The calculations seem to hold up, I’ve tested it on numerous frame sizes and it seems to get it right each time. It’s also quite handy to know in advance how many sheets you need to have in stock. So far it all sounds very promising, but there is one problem that raises its head.
The problem is, it will only calculate the optimum cutting for one frame size at a time. So if you have a need to cut 24 Parcan frames it’s great for that, however what if you only need 2 Parcan frames but with 6 Source Four frames and 8 Quartet frames? What happens is that it will tell you how to cut the gel for 2 Parcan frames, but this may not be ideal for then cutting out the 6 Source Four frames from the same sheet. Of course you could update your sheet size in the application each time to reflect this, but that takes a lot of time and effort.
Really what I am saying is that the application works perfectly if you cut a lot of gel, all of the same size. But if you cut small amounts of gel on demand and of different sizes, Gel Calc won’t really do much for you. Perhaps a future version will allow you to enter a cutting list of various sizes and quantities and then have it work out how best to cut the sheets. For now though that’s not possible so you’ll have to work around this limitation.
Also, while I like the scroll wheel for the frame sizes, I feel it could be arranged a lot better. Why have frame sizes listed as dimensions with a separate lookup table that tells you the dimensions of popular lanterns? It would seem far more logical to me, to enable you to select the lantern from the scroll wheel, which then put the dimensions in the frame size boxes. You can already edit the frame size if you have a specific requirement and it would make selecting frames a lot easier by lantern than by physical frame dimensions.
While I have awarded this application 4/5, you should consider carefully if actually you have a need for it. If you don’t cut large quantities of gel, then dock another point because you won’t get anywhere near as much benefit from it.