Advances in the iPhone’s camera technology have turned Apple’s smartphone into a compelling film-making tool. It’s therefore no wonder that there are a huge number of apps available for budding directors. Today, we’re going to focus on Cinamatic.
Developed by the team at Hipstamatic, Cinamatic promises to be ‘the best way to create beautiful short films’. And it has good pedigree – Hipstamatic are behind the popular Hipstamatic Camera app and a bunch of other impressive apps focussed on making the most of the iPhone’s image capture capabilities.
But does Cinamatic live up to its lofty billing? Let’s dive in.
Like many video apps, Cinamatic recognises the value in taking the user straight to where they need to be. That’s why, when you launch the app, you’re immediately presented with the shooting screen complete with a big red button, waiting to be pressed. It makes ad-hoc filming when you need to capture special moments a cinch.
Cinamatic features beautifully simple design throughout and fluid animations that help provide context, no matter where you are in the app. It’s a delightful, no-frills experience.
Let’s get to the meat of Cinamatic – the process of filming your masterpiece.
Cinamatic adopts the same ‘push-and-hold’ technique for capturing footage as seen in Instagram. A marker is clearly displayed once you begin shooting to indicate when you hit the minimum 3 seconds of video you’ll need to record (each film can be a maximum of 60 seconds long).
Unless you delve into manual shooting mode (see below), the options available are kept intentionally simple. You can choose to film in landscape or ‘square’ mode or flick the camera around for the obligatory selfie sequence.
When filming in low light, a quick tap of an icon turns the iPhone’s flash on – a handy feature rarely seen in video capture apps.
If you’re feeling particularly creative, you can choose to shoot at varying film speeds. There are 3 time-lapse settings to choose from and a 240 frame-per-second (FPS) slow motion option. They all work well but if there’s one gripe, it’s that novice users won’t realise the ’24’ FPS is the standard filming mode.
Cinamatic features a full manual shooting mode with some impressive options. Advanced users can set the ISO level (how sensitive the sensor is to light – typically cranked up in low-light situations) and adjust the shutter speed, exposure white balance and focus point.
If you’re a seasoned pro or enjoy delving into the technical side of filming, Cinematic’s manual shooting option will keep you busy for hours and delivers impressive results for those who know what they’re doing.
Cinamatic allows you to create multiple clips which can be renamed, re-ordered and combined into a finished film. You can also import video from your camera roll which may have been shot in a different app. The clips feature is a brilliant way to build up a scratch pad of material for your short film, enabling you to sort the wheat from the chaff.
The phrase ‘no filter’ doesn’t feature in Cinamatic’s vocabulary; in order to process and share a film, you have to add one of the included filters. There are 7 provided, although you can head to the Cinamatic shop to purchase more.Those you get for free range from Darwin-styled ethereal effects to retro and modern filters aimed at giving your film an instantly-polished look. Each filter’s intensity can be tweaked, as can the contrast, saturation and brightness of the clip overall. The filters in Cinamatic work well, although it’s a shame you can’t remove them entirely. Additional filters range from free to £2.99.
Once you press the ‘Process’ button, your finished video is fully rendered and ready to share. At the time of writing, the sharing options are Vine, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo. Direct Twitter sharing is oddly absent which means you’ll have to conduct a bit of a workaround (you can at least save the video to your Camera Roll) to get your finished masterpiece on that social network.
To share, you simply add a caption (if you wish), select one or more social networks and hit save. I found the whole rendering and sharing process as simple as it should be and it was all dealt with in super-fast time on my iPhone 6s.
Finished videos can also be emailed, sent via SMS or entered into a ‘contest’ (non of which were available during the review process).
Cinamatic is a fantastic, addictive movie-making app that should be approachable for everyone. Experienced cinematographers can get under the hood of the camera if they wish, but if you simply want to create an instantly-attractive movie of your own and share it with your followers, there are few better apps out there.