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]