Document Your Life With Moving Images: How to Make a Video Diary [iOS]
Most home movies are boring, tedious lengths of footage with little to no editing. But impose some strict rules, cut it down to the good bits, and you might just end up with something pretty cool. Take just a second of interesting video a day, and in a single year you’ll have 6 minutes of highlights. That’s the premise behind todays article, and I look at 3 different ways of documenting your life with short video clips using an iPhone .
The hardest part about these projects is to remember to actually take some videos. Pulling out your phone, bringing up the camera, switching to video – it’s all quite laborious. Hopefully, Google Glass will fix all that, but for now phones will have to do. I’ll be honest here: my life is fairly boring, and I’m pretty bad at remembering to do things. So I missed a lot exciting events, and didn’t do this every day. There’s also an issue of privacy of course; I don’t think it’s always appropriate to just whip it out (a camera, that is) and start filming!
Still, the process is the same, and hopefully the results are somewhat interesting.
1 Second Everyday ($0.99)
Take a video in-app or choose one from your camera roll, but the clip MUST be taken on the right day or you can’t add it – there’s no cheating, so no saying that cool video from yesterday is your pick for today instead. When video is available, the day glows orange, meaning you can go ahead and pick 1 second of footage. The editing interface is easy enough – scrub back and forward until you find just the right second, then tap in the top right to accept that and add it to the timeline.
The interface is slow but pretty; the main view shows thumbnails for days where footage has been assigned.
To create a compilation video, click the create button; you can then choose either predefined month, year, or custom. Tap finish, and your videos will be “mashed up”. You’ll be shown a preview, and can instantly share either to Facebook, YouTube, or simply save the video the device.
If this is the first time you’re connecting, you’ll need to grant permissions, but you need only ever do that once.
Here’s what I could come up with, exported directly to YouTube. Yes, it’s pretty much all chickens, the dog and the ferret. And a fox. What else were you expecting?
- Unfortunately, the app doesn’t work with the regular photo and movie library; only the camera roll. This means that if you import the videos to your computer before importing them into the app, it will no longer be available. This is a deal breaker for me, and I ended up missing a few clips because of this silly bug.
- You’re also limited to just one second; this is pretty harsh, and I personally think it’s just too short, which results in a video that’s too disjointed. It would be nice to have the option of using 2 seconds by default.
- You can’t add music unless you do your own editing.
- The interface is obnoxiously locked into landscape, particularly annoying when entering video descriptions and titles with the on-screen keyboard.
- Interface is slow, and the “loading your memories” screen is all too frequent.
FrameBlast [No Longer Available]
FrameBlast is a more automated solution that provides more professional results. It doesn’t have any strict restrictions as such, but each style of video uses a different length of clip, different cut and filter. You can also add any music from your library, or use some presets. The app is also completely free – there aren’t even any in-app purchases.
It’s incredibly easy to use – just add clips, and hit go. You can adjust the sequence of clips using an innovative spinner selection, but there’s no real need.
Once you’ve picked a filter style that you like, hit Save Blast to export the finished file. It’s a nice, speedy interface overall, and the completed percentage is a nice touch beyond the usual progress bar.
Vimeo, YouTube, Tumblr and Facebook share options were provided, so again, I uploaded to YouTube and was required to authorise access to my account first. One nice touch is that the uploading is done in the background, so you can continue to use the app in the meantime if you have other “Blasts” to produce.
Here’s what I made (sorry to Canadians and Germans, UMG blocked the video in your country for my choice of music):
Note: HD isn’t enabled by default, so be sure to turn that on first. And make sure you have a lot of room on your device – these things aren’t small.
- There’s no way to select which bits of clips are used, and it refuses to import trimmed video – so if you’ve taken a long video, it’s not going to be particularly useful unless the whole thing is interesting.
- Projects aren’t saved, so if you want to adjust the theme or clips after exporting a blast, you’ll need to re-select all the clips.
One Second Epic [Broken URL Removed] (Free)
An obvious knock-off of 1SE, this app is actually better in some ways. Again, you can either capture through the app, but you also have access to your full video library, though sadly this crashed the app for me. The interface is far more responsive too.
You can create a number of “epics” at the same time. These are projects which you can save at any point, edit and add clips to – you’re not limited to simply exporting time periods. This means you can easily separate videos of your kids from everything else, for instance, until you’re ready to export.
Fundamentally then, it’s like 1SecondEveryday, only with less restrictions, a better interface, and free. The concept is somewhat different though, so if you’re actually interested in the arbitrary restrictions placed by the original 1SE, then this app isn’t for you.
- I actually couldn’t get it work on my iPhone 4 or iPad 3 – previewing compilations which I’d imported videos into crashed the app. With video taken immediately, it worked fine, but I don’t have enough interesting things around the house to demo that.
- Direct uploading is only supported to Facebook, no YouTube or Vimeo, so you’ll need to export to the camera roll and share from there.
FrameBlast gets my vote; for ease of use, automatic handling of video clips and the ability to use your own tunes and existing iOS video library. 1SecondEveryday is an interesting project to take on and perhaps will cause you to examine your life everyday in a new light, but the videos it produces aren’t actually that compelling and getting content into the app is just too difficult in my opinion.
How about you? Have you had a go at documenting your life in video? Post some links in the comments and let us take a look!