Here at MakeUseOf we love to focus on freebies, but at the same time occasionally an app will come along with a modest price tag (in this instance $1.99) that’s just so good we have to sing from the rooftops and offer an honest opinion.
It’s even rarer when two come along at once but if you were watching closely yesterday I reviewed Clear, a new paid list-making app that takes the mundane task of remembering things and makes it simple and fun. Today we’re taking a look at Cinemagram ($1.99), an insanely easy way to create cinemagraphs on your iPhone in minutes.
Hipster lens-less glasses at the ready!
A cinemagraph is essentially the marriage of still photos and moving video, except only a portion of the scene is animated. Typical examples include a tree swaying in the breeze, water flowing from a tap or the flame on a candle. In case you’re still confused, here’s a cinemagraph that I have made using the very app I’m about to talk about.
James has previously walked you through the process of creating these hybrids using Photoshop CS5, a software suite that would leave many of us bankrupt for a month. The process isn’t too complicated, but takes time, effort and patience in order to achieve the desired result. While the finished product might be a tad more professional than what Cinemagram offers, there’s certainly no easier way of taking the world around you and turning it into an animated still.
Previously Cinemagram had a few annoying bugs, some privacy concerns and a couple of issues with sharing. While the app is still not finished (is an app ever finished?) the developers have embraced user feedback, implemented changes (now at version 1.2) and are pushing for an update cycle that takes just over a week per version:
“We’ve been carefully reading & listening to your feedback, thank you. This is one of many updates coming up that will address all the issues that have been pointed out. We’re working super hard, you can expect one update every 7-10 days or so :)”
A promising start from a team developing a very promising app!
The process is really quite easy, though it won’t work perfectly for every scene you point your iPhone at. Hit Capture and you’ll see the familiar viewfinder and a button that simply says Record. When you hit Record start thinking about what portion of the scene is going to be animated and try to keep the shot as still as possible. A tripod adapter for your iPhone will deliver the steadiest results, but this is by no means a prerequisite and the process works fairly well even if you don’t have the steadiest of hands.
Once you’ve recorded the scene you’ll be presented with the video editor, where you can trim your video down to the required size and use the play button to preview. Once you’ve perfected your “loop” hit Save to reveal the mask editor. The mask defines which parts of the image appear moving – wherever there is a mask the video you just edited will play.
Once you’re happy with the mask hit Next and choose a style from the Colorize menu (if you want) and hit Next. Finally you’ll have your preview, with the option to reverse the video in order to give the illusion of perpetual motion.
This works great for flames, swaying trees and so on but if your scene is of a car driving past then reversal looks a bit silly, so turn it off. You also have the option of discarding the video here with the Delete button in case your chosen scene doesn’t work at all.
Done will finalize the cinemagraph and give you the option of entering a name, author name and deciding whether or not to make it public (Cinemagram) or share with Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook.
There’d be no point creating beauitful cinemagraphs if you couldn’t share them with everyone else, so there are two tabs along the bottom of Cinemagram – Popular and Latest – which will keep you up to date with what everyone else is doing. From here you can “like”, email and share via social channels anything that strikes you, as well as flagging naughty content (not that I’ve seen any).
Your own content also has a home under the Album tab and this will aggregate any content that you’ve created (private and public). Under Settings you can set your default name (there’s no account registration, something I’ll get to soon) and email as well as connecting Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter for fast sharing.
Cinemagram is still a fairly new app, and that means there’s a ton of potential that’s still to be realised. One thing I would absolutely love to see in this app would be the ability to follow individuals. This would obviously require user registration, but connecting with Facebook or Twitter would suffice for many and make it easy to find friends.
Another thing that’s missing at the moment is the ability to track your own creations – how many likes, shares and a general rank. Under the Album tab it’s somewhat disappointing not to be able to see how many people thought your last cinemagraph was awesome.
Download: Cinemagram for iPhone @ App Store [No Longer Available]
Visit: Cinemagr.am [No Longer Available]
In addition to a few general enhancements, the usual bug fixes and the few missing features I’ve mentioned above, I can’t really think what else there is to do to improve this app. The concept is rock-solid, creating a cinemagraph is stress-free and easy to achieve and for $1.99 I’d say it’s a must-buy for anyone who constantly using their phone to take pictures, videos or messing with photo apps like Instagram or Hipstamatic (also $1.99).
Have you used Cinemagram? What do you think? Anything that could be added that would make you a very happy customer indeed? Add your thoughts in the comments, below.