All smartphones shoot high-resolution photos and high-resolution, high-definition videos. But rarely do these imaging twains meet.
Imaginative software developers have decided segregating still photos and video is silly. While each photographic form portrays a scene differently—a video of a building doesn’t tell you any more about that building other than it’s a building, while a still photo of a musician can’t convey the passion or the tune being played—both play a role in telling a visual story of our adventures.
In the mobile universe, there are a plethora of both social photo/video apps as well as music-backed video/still collage creation apps. Here’s our own collage of some of the most interesting video/still smartphone apps currently out there.
Social Video & Cinemagraph Apps
Now that Twitter automatically displays photos and videos in a user’s feed, this Twitter-owned video app is likely to get even more popular than it is. For the uninitiated, Vine lets you capture short 6.5-second, square looping videos that can be easily posted to Twitter, Facebook and the Vine feed. Not only popular with consumers, Dunkin Donuts recently used a single Vine as a TV commercial. A Vine version for Windows Phone is due any time. Twitter, iOS, Android, free, vine.co
Snapchat is less an imaging tool than a social media communications tool. With it, users capture short (up to 10 seconds) videos or “Snaps” to which they can add explicating or complementary hand-scrawled text or drawings and transmit to chosen recipients. These Snaps exist for only 1–10 seconds before they disappear. The short lifespan of Snaps is designed to create (ahem) uninhibited visual communications with none of the worry of the Snap coming back to haunt the sender. Recently added are Snapchat Stories, longer Snap videos that can be viewed via a web link unlimited times within 24 hours before self-destructing. Snapchat, iOS, Android, free, snapchat.com
With nearly everyone owning a smartphone these days, events are often captured for posterity by more than one person. Essentially a cloud video creator, Vyclone takes a consumer’s uploaded footage and photos and combines them with other uploaded footage and photos taken by others at the same event, and it somehow automatically assembles a movie incorporating these multiple shooters. The movie can then be reedited and users can share their own “remix” of a Vyclone video from all those cloud-collected clips and captures. Anyone can view these Vyclone videos on the app’s website. Vyclone, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, free, vyclone.com
This app animates one part of a photo by creating a repeating GIF. When users shoot two or three seconds of video with this app, they can then pinch/zoom to indicate a section of the photo they’d like to move—someone’s hand waving, an object in flight, etc.—and that section of the photo springs into action while the rest of the photo remains static. Or, several spots can be animated, and even the whole image. Cinemagram, however, now has a free competitor—Flixel. While easier to use, Flixel does suffer from stability problems. Factyle, iOS, free, cinemagr.am
Recently touted by Tyra Banks, Flixel Cinemagraph creates “living photographs” known as cinemagraphs. Unlike a still photo, a living photo contains a portion of looping motion, like a flickering flame. While a cool concept, it’s reportedly still a little buggy. When a still photo is taken, the app captures, processes and image-stabilizes a few frames of video, which enables the user to turn that still photo into an animated GIF. Rubbing a finger over the image animates just that area of the image—so users can create finely detailed animations. These GIFs can be shared like photos and posted to an Instagram-like feed where other Flixel users can be followed. While still not perfect, like we said, it’s easier to use and more intuitive than previous, similar programs like Cinemagram. Flixel Photos Inc., iOS, free, flixel.com
Video Collage Apps
Video 2 Photo
The iPhone can’t simultaneously capture still photos and video, which means any interesting frame caught on video—especially if you hit the video record icon instead of the photo icon—stays in the video. Not anymore. With Video 2 Photo, users can extract/export a 1,920×1,080 image from a 1,920×1,080 video as either a JPEG or a PNG and save it to the camera roll, e-mail it, print it, Tweet it or post it to Facebook. In other words, they can treat the extracted image the same way they’d treat a still image they snapped the old-fashioned way. V2P also doubles as a still burst mode, or provides one if the smartphone lacks one. PacoLabs, iOS, $1.99, pacolabs.com/iOS/Video2Photo
It feels as if you’re snapping a photo, but what Takes takes are three-second portrait-mode (tall) clips, either from an iPhone’s rear or front camera. The app assembles them to create a video montage with a soundtrack, either an “instant” complete automatic presentation or using only photo/videos and backing music the user chooses from Takes’ licensed list. Users can keep their Takes private, stored on Takes’ servers or take their Takes public and share them via Twitter or Facebook automatically in the background. If a video clip is not wanted, Takes preserves the original stills. An Android version is in the works. Takes Inc., iOS, free, takes.com
Instead of shooting fresh images or videos, Videolicious assembles existing photos and short clips in the sequence users desire and lets them insert new footage, such as a selfie narration shot with the iPhone’s front camera, to create an up-to-one-minute widescreen video montage, backed with music from the app’s licensed collection. A voice-only narration can even be used behind a user’s existing snaps and clips to tell a visual story, just like a real documentary. There’s also an enterprise version for $60 or $120 a month, which provides storage for videos, 10-minute or unlimited length videos, and access to a commercial music library. Videolicious, iOS, free, videolicious.com
More expansive than Takes or Videolicious, PicPlayPost enables users to create up to 10-minute-long videos on an iPhone or iPad with access to an extensive suite of video- and photo-editing tools. Users can choose and edit up to either four or six 30-second clips (depending on which version of iOS they have) of varying aspect ratios (tall/wide), add image or video effect filters and music, and then post on social networks or YouTube. They can even create a video with two, three or four clips creatively assembled to run simultaneously or in sequence. Flambe Studios, iOS, $1.99, flambestudios.com/PicPlayPost.html
Animoto Video Maker
Consumers can choose up to 12 photos or clips from their collections, add an intro with a title and date, add an “outro” to the last scene or image with a title, choose music from the app’s or a smartphone’s library, and create an up-to-30-second web-quality video. But where the other aforementioned snap/clip assembly apps are designed primarily for limited personal collage creation, Animoto adds premium versions for both personal and business use that enable longer videos containing licensed content and higher production effects in higher resolution. Animoto, iOS and Android, free/$5-month (Plus)/$39-month (Pro), animoto.com