2012 iPhone Cellphone Cinema App Guide
I recently began exploring the brave new world of cellphone cinema and created an all-new 2012 iPhone Cellphone Cinema Tool Guide to all the many new and innovative tools like lens, dollies, mics, and handheld rigs to help you shoot more professional video with your iPhone. But that was only the hardware part of the equation.
Another big factor in the quality and creativity of your iPhone video is the app used to capture it. Yes, there’s the standard camera app that comes free with the iPhone, but the right app can make all the difference in the amount of control you have over your image and offer a variety of cool looks and special visual FX from 8mm film to tilt-shift…there’s an app for that.
I may add to this list as new apps come out, but these are some of the top contenders I came across in my research…
I would best describe this app as Hipstamatic for video. It has very user-friendly visual interface and only does one thing well – take quality vintage film look videos. It features 6 different lenses and 7 different vintage film stocks. By combining different lenses and films you can achieve a variety of cool old film looks with varying degrees of grain, dust, scratches, discoloration and there’s even a DIY flicker button to make the film skip at the exact moment of your choice. And best of all- you can work this film magic on pre-recorded videos most amazing of all, record them live on-the-fly with no render time.
Lindi Ortega Music Video Shot w/ 8mm Vintage Camera
Filmic Pro is a nifty little app for the cellphone cinema crowd. It doesn’t have any fancy filters lenses or effects, but what it does have may be way more appealing to the serious cellphone cinema crowd – manual control of exposure, white balance, and focus. That in and of itself would be plenty, but Filmic has even more practical features for those used to more professional cameras, such as audio meters, variable frame rates and resolutions. And just to sweeten the pot, they’ve also integrated color bars and built-in slate.
iSupr8 is one of a slew of vintage film look apps. This one allows you to customize and save your own film looks, shoot in 12/18/24 frames per second and shoot in 360p / 480p / 720p / 1080p. You can also import video from your camera roll and ad effects to it after the fact. Only comes with one film stock, but at least 7 additional film looks can be purchased in-app for $0.99 each.
Home Video Shot w/ iSupr8
This app is like a swiss army knife of video filters. It shoots video FX in real-time and has more than two dozen different video effects and filters built-in including old-film, pop-art, thermal and my favorite B&W with red only – just like the movie Sin City. Also noteworthy is live preview of all the effects, different filters can be combined to create new effects, full-screen mode and you can preview before saving your video. If you like to get experimental with yours, this app has a number of funky abstract effects.
iMajicam Pro Test Footage
This popular and well-reviewed app offers a live video preview, 36 filters and 9 distortion effects, video tagging for easier management. Three stand-out features are touch exposure and white balance lock, both of which help your iPhone perform more like a real video camera and Camera Plus also dos time-lapse video with or without a filter…pretty damn cool.
Camera Plus Pro Demo Footage
Just as the name implies, this app applies an animated effect to live video. Think the Waking Life effect, but on your iPhone. Toon Camera has multiple cartoon, pencil, stipple, and ink effects. It can also convert existing videos into cartoons. And like most of these video apps, you can instantly share your video on Facebook, Twitter , YouTube and more. See it in action here.
Toon Camera Demo Footage
This app adds effect to any video on your phone’s camera roll. It comes with more than 55 effects including essential FX like Vignette, Widescreen, Brightness/Contrast, Vibrance/Saturation, and Exposure. But, it also has all the requisite old-school film filters, vintage still camera film looks, and some more cinematic and flashy looks. Two big stand out features are the ability to stack up to 3 effects together and to preview effects with a side-by-side comparison with your original video. One important note, at the best quality (720p HD) it took about 5 mins. for a 9 second video I rendered with 2 effects on my iPhone 4 – but the quality of the final video was very impressive.
Cinema FX Test Footage – Vignette & Spice Filters Applied – Render Time = 5mins.
Compare to the original video HERE.
This app doesn’t have a bunch of film looks, but instead is one of several new apps that give you a digital version of tilt shift lenses like the popular Lens Baby. If you’re not familiar with it already, tilt-shift is a photography technique that gives you selective focus on a certain part of the image and makes scenes appear like miniature models. Don’t let the lame icon fool you, this is a simple and effective app. The tiltshift effect can be applied to any video or photo in your iPhone’s camera roll. You’ll probably get best results with wide cityscape shots and close ups of still life.
Tilt Shift App Test Footage
With over 30 effects and 7 frames that can be applied in real-time, Live Filter Camera is another decent choice for creative cellphone cinema. Notably, you can rapidly switch between effects and set your exposure and focus separately. Custom frames include vignetting, flickering and square amongst others.
Movie Looks is by Red Giant Software the same people that make the very popular Magic Bullet software that really revolutionized “film look” for the DIY indie film crowd. It has 40 filters modelled after the look of specific Hollywood Blockbusters including many of the most popular film looks from Magic Bullet. Like other powerful video FX apps, this app only works on pre-recorded video and takes a long time to render. One thing I don’t like is that you have to keep the app open while it renders and if you switch over to another app or a phone call, the Movie Looks won’t continue rendering in the background. Another clip I rendered that had more movement came out with considerable artifacts.
Movie Looks Test Footage – Bleach Bypass Filter - Render Time = 5mins.
Compare to the original video HERE.
*Two important notes on some of these filter apps to keep in mind:
1) These are sophisticated video filters being applied to video on your iPhone, not a Mac tower, as such they take a looong time to render, so scenes need to be short. A 10 second clip at full 720p quality took about 5 minutes to render on Cinema FX and Movie Looks.
2) You can only apply effects to videos on your iPhone’s Camera Roll, so once you move a video to your computer and delete it from your phone, there is no easy way to get it back on your Camera Roll.
2012 Runners Up:
So the below are some other apps that all have similar features to the one’s above, but I left them off my official list because of issues cited in their reviews. Some of these bugs had to do with which version of iPhone the users had others seemed to just be software related. Of course apps are updated and improved on a regular basis, so thought I’d put them here for you to check out for yourself and read the reviews.
If you’re a fan of cell phone cinema, peep the 2012 iPhone Cellphone Cinema Tool Guide. If you like this type of practical filmmaking info, please check out my products page and 2012 Video Camera Buyer’s Guide. Your purchases from this site help keep the info on Down and Dirty free and free-flowing.
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