A superb way of capturing a moment, with an easy-to-use process – even if the app needs a little polish.
by on March 30, 2012
What lies beyond the world of Instagram? Instant photo sharing has been a colossal hit on the iPhone, but just like all things that experience such a meteoric rise, people are already looking forward to what comes next. Of course, the obvious step beyond photos is video, but the problem here is that video is too large to upload over 3G in many situations, and it requires a lot of power to apply effects.
Cinemagram offers a middle ground: you shoot a couple of seconds of video, then you choose one part of it that stays in motion, while the rest is turned to a static image, ending up as an animated GIF file.
Imagine someone pouring water from a cup. As a Cine, what you might do is to keep the falling water in motion, but keeping the person pouring and the room around them still. The way you actually do all this is to first record some video within the app, which you’re then prompted to trim down, if it’s longer than a couple of seconds. Once you’ve chosen your footage, you’re then shown the starting frame of your eventual Cine, and asked to draw on a mask, to indicate which parts should be animation. Anything you draw here will retain its motion in the final GIF. For precision, you can zoom in, and there’s an Undo button. Once you’ve chosen the animated area, you can add a filter, though currently there aren’t many to choose from, and you can’t choose how strongly they’re applied. Finally, you’re shown a preview of the results, and you can choose whether the animation simply loops through constantly, or whether it plays through, then reverses, and continues in that cycle. Once you’ve had a bit of practice, it’s a simple process that’s quite easy to use.
The results of a well-done Cine vary wildly between beautiful and creepy (and often surprisingly haunting in both cases), but are never anything less than very cool. Poorly executed ones will appear quite jarring, with the animated section not lining up with the still section, leaving the effect totally ruined. The thing is, it really isn’t easy to create a good Cine. A tripod or mount is essential if you can’t rest your phone on something steady; any slight hand movements to the camera are likely to cause a mismatch with the animation later. Not only that, but it takes a totally different eye to find a good Cinemagram than it does photo or video – you need to consider the type of motion you want to capture, how large it is, how it affects its surroundings, as well as the usual aesthetics and framing of photography. However, these are skills you’ll pick up, and they’re not really a fault of the app – just a result of it being a different kind of medium.
Cinemegram is, of course, heavily focused on sharing. Once you’ve completed a Cine, you can share it on Cinemagram, as well as to Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. It’s easy to do, but does have some irritations: the comment field keeps skipping the cursor to the end, and when it posts to Twitter, it includes some slightly obnoxious hashtags.
The Cinemagram app needs a bit of polish, but the basic process all works really well, and the results that experienced users can produce are brilliant in a way that neither videos nor photos can match.
Download this app: Cinemagram for iPhone
Best iPhone apps | Apple iPhone 4S review
Review courtesy of Tap!