Are iOS Camera Apps Helping or Hurting Filmmakers?
While that overtly sensational headline may reek of clickbait, it’s also a fair and reasonable question – one I was asked while speaking on a Photography/Videography panel at this year’s Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Jeff Carlson, the panel’s moderator (and all-around-photography-guru), was asking me specifically about the new wave of filmmaking apps that attempt to guide the filmmaking process, and automatically correct their user’s mistakes.
It’s a tough question to answer. On the surface, it appears that these applications are replacing creative control with pre-defined scripts and algorithms… but maybe there’s more to it than that. Let’s take a closer look at these “assistive apps.”
Horizon is one such app. It’s a video camera that insures a properly leveled image. Using the iPhone’s internal sensors, Horizon quickly detects when the camera is being held off balance, and automatically compensates (in real time) by digitally re-leveling the image, so the horizon line always appears parallel with the top and bottom edge of your shot.
So, is this helping or hurting filmmakers? Well, on one hand, this might be a godsend for new shooters who don’t yet understand the importance of level shooting. It also prevents them from shooting in the unforgivable portrait orientation. On the other hand, Horizon’s auto-corrected rotation could deter filmmakers from using Dutch angles (intentionally un-leveled angles). Experienced filmmakers use Dutch angles to alter the audience’s perception or add style to a shot. They can also be used to emphasize (or de-emphasize) the subject. And, most importantly, they can be used to enhance cheesy action sequences (see “Batman“). Fortunately, Horizon does provide a “lock” button that temporarily turns off the auto-rotation (you just have to remember that it’s there).
Several new camera apps like Vine, Spark, and Cinamatic, limit users to short takes. Lengthy shots are simply not allowed. Helping or hurting? Well, I could argue that these apps are teaching new filmmakers the importance of pacing. Nothing screams “newbie” more than long, uninteresting shots (except maybe, poor audio). Conversely, removing the ability to shoot longer takes greatly reduces the type of stories that can be captured.
Apps like Directr and iMovie take a more hands-on approach, telling their users what subject matter to shoot (based on a variety of pre-defined scripts or storyboards). The apps then automatically edit everything together, complete with titles and music. Is this helping or hurting? These types of apps can help inexperienced filmmakers understand the basics of pacing and structure. But, as with the previous examples, they can also limit creativity. Users are exposed to structure, but not encouraged to manipulate it in any meaningful way. The end results are almost always entertaining, but somewhat homogenous.
Here’s another example. A couple weeks ago, I covered an app called Emulsio that stabilizes shaky, hand-held footage, and even removes rolling shutter artifacts. ZeroShake is another app that performs a similar function. Helping or hurting? On one hand, having the power to remove shakes may lure filmmakers into a false sense of security, and dissuade them from stabilizing their cameras while shooting. On the other hand, after observing how stabilized footage increases a video’s production value, filmmakers may be inspired to properly stabilize their cameras on set, which will always yield higher quality results (and less cropping) than stabilizing footage after it’s been recorded.
So, are these “assistive apps” helping filmmakers by allowing them to create the best possible results, or are they hurting filmmakers by removing elements of creative control?
When I started writing this article, I was convinced it would end with me ranting like a 90-year curmudgeon (i.e., “You spoiled kids today, with your crazy hair, and your rock and roll, and your incredibly powerful digital assistants!”). I assumed my conclusion would include phrases like “These apps are crushing creativity!” and “Get off of my lawn!”, but instead, I find myself optimistic and excited. Thanks to the current wave of assistive-filmmaking apps, ** and their potential to teach by example**, today’s up-and-coming auteurs are being given an invaluable introduction to the basics of visual storytelling. All they need to do is pay attention! Once a filmmaker understand the basics, she/he can migrate away from these apps and move towards tools that offer greater creative control. And, of course, these apps allow non-filmmakers (who have no interest in becoming filmmakers) a means of producing terrific results. It’s all good!
That said, you should still get off my lawn.
by Horizon Video Technologies
Featured in Engadget, TechCrunch, The Next Web, Gizmodo, Wired, AppAdvice, Cult of Mac, TUAW!
“We just wish Apple and Google had bundled this as standard." - Engadget
"Brilliant, Overdue App Forces Your Phone to Take Horizontal Videos" - Gizmodo
"You owe it to yourself to check out the new Horizon app for iOS." - AppAdvice
"Horizon App Solves the Dumbest Thing About Smartphone Video" - WIRED
"Horizon will eliminate portrait recording forever" - TUAW
"Horizon for iOS means no more vertical videos" - The Next Web
Horizon lets you record horizontal videos and photos no matter how you hold your device. Hold it upright, sideways or even keep rotating it while capturing, your captured moments will always stay horizontal! You can add filters, shoot with the back or front camera and share your creations!
Ever felt the need to rotate your device while recording a video? Do you often end up with vertical videos or videos in wrong orientation? Meet Horizon!
Horizon works like magic! It auto-levels your photos and videos while recording, using your device’s gyroscope. The resulting orientation is corrected so that it always stays parallel to the ground. It's like a pro gimbal rig in your hand!
With Horizon you can help bring an end to the Vertical Videos Syndrome. Yes, you can now record horizontal videos, even while holding your device in portrait mode!
▶ Capture horizontal videos & photos
▶ Multiple resolutions including VGA, HD, Full HD and even 4K!*
▶ 60 and 120 (slow motion) FPS support*
▶ Three leveling modes: Flex, Rotate and Locked
▶ HDR photos
▶ Tap and hold to slow down your 120 FPS videos!
▶ Lossless zoom with the all new ‘Crisp’ resolutions!*
▶ AirPlay mirroring while recording
▶ Various video aspect ratios (Square 1:1, Wide 16:9, Standard 4:3)
▶ Record videos and photos with front or back camera
▶ Eight fun filters to choose from
▶ Video Library with clever item selection
▶ Share your creations to your favorite social network
▶ Open your videos in other apps
▶ Select Video Quality to save space (High, Medium, Low)
▶ AF/AE Lock
Emulsio - Video Stabilizer
by Creaceed SPRL
Emulsio - Video Stabilizer
** Emulsio is a Macworld/iWorld 2014 Best of Show winner **
Want to make your videos smoother and more professional? Emulsio is a video editing application that automatically removes camera shake, and lets you make cinematic motion just like professional movie editors. Emulsio lets you use advanced stabilization techniques, adjust the stabilizer strength, preview the result within the app, and even view a before/after video comparison. You can also trim or cut any part of the video. Emulsio is a must have for all movie makers!
Emulsio is available as an extension of the built-in Photos app. You can stabilize videos, and use all Emulsio’s features without leaving the Photos app. Besides, you can now either save the changes right in the input video, or export a new stabilized video which will be saved next to the input video in the Photos app.
Emulsio can be tried out for free and the watermark can be removed through an in-app purchase.
** Easily Stabilize your Videos - Key Features **
- Import any video from the iPhone/iPad album or any other compatible application.
- Choose the stabilization strength necessary to efficiently remove distracting camera vibrations.
- Compensate horizontal, vertical and rotational camera motion, as well as wobble distortion. Besides, Emulsio can now handle the black borders which appeared in previous versions (known as Movie Stiller) when motion compensation was too high, by momentarily decreasing stabilization strength.
- Inspect video frame by frame.
- Assess stabilizer effect and settings by playing both the original and stabilized videos simultaneously.
- Remove any part of the video. This is a non-destructive process, you can always change your mind until final export.
- Export the stabilized video to any compatible application (Mail, Messages, Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote, iMovie,…).
- Very fast video processing on your iPhone or iPad. No Internet connection required.
- Optimized for latest iOS and for 64-bit devices.
- Support for high-speed 120 FPS videos which remain at 120 FPS after export.
** Help & Feedback **
Visit http://www.creaceed.com/emulsio/about for more information. Send your questions and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org