'Video Instagram' Crusade Rages On: Viddy Goes Android, Lumify Asks 'Why do Mobile Videos Suck?'

Where is the supposed 'Instagram of Video?' Is it even possible for a motion-based media/social service to be as lightweight, sharable, and just plain easy as Instagram makes stills? The jury is still out, the verdict on which of the contenders will stick -- if any at all -- is still to be determined. We covered a bit on some of the startups stepping into the ring already, and since then, some other relevant material has surfaced. In one corner, heavyweight Viddy (one of the favorite bets) has just released an Android version of its service for many smartphones, while in the other, small independent startup Lumify wants to make "filmmaking for everyone" and attempts to answer "Why our mobile videos suck."

There's a lot of similarly-minded app/services out there elbowing each other around in this field -- ranging a bit the gamut between 'still' and 'video,' with some falling much closer to one side than the other. I previously found pseudo-video apps Cinemagram and Lightt to be really interesting pop-art-snippet platforms, if basically unfit as storytelling media. Even with more outright-video options such as Viddy, the theme still seems to be 'capture the moment,' not 'tell the story.' This may leave an opening for something like Lumify (remember, "Filmmaking for everyone") to cut out its own bit of user-share.

Viddy Comes to Android

Already available for iOS, short-clip sharing app Viddy has recently added support for almost a thousand Android smartphones, which very well may mean the gaining of serious ground for the app in this market. While a lot of people seem to be wondering why Android users wouldn't just use YouTube to share videos -- especially given that Viddy uses your phone's onboard hardware to apply its filters and, well, YouTube is Google is Android, already. At the same time, though, users seem to appreciate being part of smaller or more intimate communities, which may be one of the reasons many folks, say, use Instagram and then share to Twitter and Facebook instead of uploading directly.

If there was a literal 'adaptation' of an 'Instagram of video,' Viddy certainly looks about as close as it could could come. That said, filmmakers will have to do some fresh thinking to tap Viddy as a resource, say, to spread their content or build their social media profile.

Lumify Wants to Make Mobile Video Viable to Us

What really sets the new (and small) Lumify apart is its emphasis on cutting in-camera -- something unique in this realm already rife with novelty. Here's what CEO/founder Kuan Yong told me after my initial 'InstoVideaGram' post:

There is a much smaller group of developers like Lumify who are actually trying to help the average user think and shoot like a filmmaker, i.e. tell a story through a series of shots, deliberately sequenced together. In our case, we've built a novel "in-camera editing" approach where, as the user shoots each scene, the app automatically trims it (based on video analysis) and times the cuts to the downbeats in the soundtrack. That way, the user only needs to think about what they need to shoot to tell their story, and not have to worry about the actual mechanics of editing.

Conversely, Kuan pointed to his post on the Lumify blog outlining why this type of video app hasn't reached sturdy ground yet -- mainly, because mobile video so often turns out like garbage, especially when trying to convey a story. Lumify operates under the philosophy that users simply need to be given the right balance between simplicity and narrative ability (the ability to shoot an actual sequence, but without an editing system that is too complex) to get some quality and value out of their video.

Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM_mOj4KUHk

What Does This Mean to Filmmakers?

There's a caveat for looking at apps like this from a traditional 'filmmaking-versus-this-or-that' perspective -- and that's because of the catch 22 inherent to using such apps. Regardless of how professional (or otherwise 'real') photographers feel about Instagram, anyone and everyone using the app effectively becomes a photographer in his or her own right. This stuff isn't high art, but who cares? In the same sense, not all filmmakers will be interested in Viddy, or even something with stronger narrative capabilities like Lumify -- but on the other side of things, each and every user of Lumify assumes the role of casual filmmaker by virtue of using it. Those of us who endorse the democratization of filmmaking can appreciate yet another level of ease and affordability to it -- professional work will always have its place, but there's no reason mobile filmmaking tools (even very simple ones) can't be in the palm of everyone's hands too.

What do you guys think of these apps? Do you see any reason something like Lumify can't allow "filmmaking for everyone?" How many of you find yourselves using casual-art apps such as these?

Update: In fact, I'll leave you with an additional question as well, and everyone can discuss whether you feel it's a rhetorical one or not. Kuan of Lumify and I had a bit of a continued dialogue after this posting, wherein he asked the Following:

I guess it's hard to avoid the "high art" vs "low art" debate when talking about photo/video apps, but surely apps that make basic photography or filmmaking accessible to the average consumer do play a significant role in inspiring more people to take up the art professionally, and that has got to be a good thing for the community, isn't it?


[via The Verge]

Your Comment


"This stuff isn’t high art?" "who cares?" A lot of people do.... insulting filmmakers is not a great starts to destroying their craft.

This is terrible

December 15, 2012 at 11:32AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Nick, seriously? This destroys the craft as much as a 6 year-old scribbling with crayons destroys impressionistic art

December 15, 2012 at 12:07PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


"Nick, seriously? This destroys the craft as much as a 6 year-old scribbling with crayons destroys impressionistic art"
No, because not everybody is a filmmaker. We have other "eyes" than common people.
So, as for a lot of "common people", nowadays, if your picture is not highly edited, it's not a "good" photography, with these kind of apps, if your film doesn't have extreme color tones, it's "tasteless".
Of course, what the "common people" think of your masterpiece shouldn't be that important, but from what I know, it's them who can make your little film the biggest movie of the 21st century, not you alone, it's them who have the money, not you....
So yes, that's horrible.

December 15, 2012 at 1:36PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I'm not really understanding your point, Yann. Are you saying these apps will make the "common people" think this is how films should be made and how they should look? I really can't buy into that logic, nor do I believe any serious filmmaker will see people using any sort of app as a threat to them or the craft. The cream will always rise to the top no matter what tools are out there or what the "common people" think.

December 15, 2012 at 3:20PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Well theres no way to tell how people will see films in the future.
at the end of the day, its just a tool, a shit, limited tool. but still.
I mean park chan wook, on of my favourite directors ever, shot a film with an iphone 4.
so people who just want to play around will do, and those with a certain talent or "eye", or just simply those who never tried any kind of filmmaking will probably have a spark.

so no worries.

December 16, 2012 at 2:47AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Since this article is about mobile video, I guess I could do a bit of advertising of the video service of our company: http://www.bambuser.com

Our mission is to bring the tech of live video broadcasting into the hands of everyone. The idea is that every person with a mobile phone + 3G/Wifi and the Bambuser app can broadcast live video to their own websites, facebook wall, twitter, blog etc.

By bringing live video into the hands of everyone, it has been interesting to see that people have picked up our mobile apps for showing demonstrations during the Arab spring, demonstrations in Russia, Syria, and citizen journalists doing directly from the mobile coverage outside the Ecuador embassy during the Julian Assange situation.

Our service is not the Instagram of videos, but we have implemented quite a lot of social media features for users to reach out with live videos.

Of course we also support more higher-end streaming setups with cameras connected to computers, although we have put a lot of focus on high quality live video from mobile phones.

Our service is free/ad-based for personal use and a paid service for commercial use. Try out our service if you have a need for or interest in live video :)

December 15, 2012 at 12:09PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Viddy is still around? Seriously?

December 15, 2012 at 12:33PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


i dont think "social video" will take off until we have the network infrastructure to support it.

December 15, 2012 at 1:47PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

john jeffreys

Pourquoi vous ne testez pas "Social Cam" ? L'instagram de la vidéo !!!

December 15, 2012 at 2:31PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


It is the next logical step for visual social media. In this information age tech has to continue to excel for the everyday user or innovation would turn out to be a step instead of a leap. Just like the 5d allowed everyday film makers to master shallow depth... same story with social media. But the cream always rises, and the shwag is always still shwag.

December 15, 2012 at 3:58PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Side question, the Nokia 808 has a 41 MP sensor and can shoot 38MP stills and 1080 video. Has anyone run shootout specs on mobile video phones including the 808? Its technically possible to shoot 4K video with several stops of DR with the new available mobile phone chips, could this be the next step in digital cinema options for film makers?

December 16, 2012 at 12:26AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

shaun wilson

Lots of professional photographers use Instagram to promte themselves. No reason that a film-mamer couldn't use one of these apps -- you can tell a lot of story in :30 seconds, TVCommercial producers do it all the time.

December 16, 2012 at 6:57PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I don't think this line of thinking is all that interesting and misses the point of what still images do versus what moving ones do. Each have their own capabilities, and what's made instagram so successful (apart from its filters and platform) is that its basically a digital polaroid. It capitalizes on the "fun" of of the frozen moment. You can look at it as long as you like, but it still carries with it the mechanical proof of a moment captured. Video does the opposite. Part of my skepticism here is that I don't really understand why someone would want to develop a "filmmaking" app in this fashion for any other reason than to get rich.

Also, we are drowning in images people! How about we take more time with what we have to make them with, see if we can exhaust something in place of falling into the trap of letting new "gear" and their ensuing apps guide our practice. Gear, gear, gear, gear, gear....

December 20, 2012 at 8:45PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Nick Loess