The iPhone is a pretty diverse piece of kit straight out of the box. By default, it is a powerful internet browser, word processor, GPS, and video camera. But like most things in life, it can be improved upon. Even the HD capable camera isn’t 100% complete, so today we are looking at an app that looks to expand the iPhone’s impressive capabilities – Movie Looks.
Movie Looks HD is produced by Red Giant. They have a long history of making add-ons to various other editing programs (Photoshop, Final Cut Pro etc.), and have now brought their skills to the iPhone and iPad.
While Red Giant’s desktop programs have more features, they really have packed a lot into this scaled down version. Right away, you can import from your camera roll, so no need to remember to open the app to capture thing if you plan to use it later. The finished product can also export to the camera roll too, should you want to do something else with it. This cross-app connectivity is essential in a good app, but it’s always good to praise it when it’s this smooth.
So when we say “Finished product”, what do we mean? Well to begin with, you can cut and crop the video in-app. This means if you only wish to capture part of video you shot, you can select it. The controls are a little tricky,owing to them being operated by touch. That goes for a lot of apps, but the problem we found in testing arose from the option to swipe the screen left to return to the video selection page. Whilst a clever idea on paper, we found it to be quite sensitive, which isn’t ideal as the slider to crop from the start of the video is close to the edge of the screen. More than once we would be aiming for the slider, but accidentally wind up back on the previous page.
Get past this though, and you’ll be welcomed by Movie Looks wide range of filters. This is the apps selling point, and it has a particular emphasis on filters modelled after films (hence the app name). There are your basic ones, such as “Black & White”, “Cold Day”, and “Bronze”, but these aren’t what you’re here for.
No, you’ll be more interested in the filters that emulate the likes of the Matrix and Transformers trilogies. The filters don’t tell you exactly which film they mimic, but hint at it with enough transparency that it’s not hard to figure things out – The Matrix’s green tinge is called “Neo”, and the forever sunset glean of Transformers is captured in “Optimus”.
Check this video to see different filters in action.
Once you pick your filter, you move onto two sliders – brightness, and strength. Brightness is as you’d expect, and strength allows you to dictate the level of effect you want to apply. This is shown on a preview image. Once you are done, the video will then render. Some effects take longer than others, but that is signposted (though vaguely) during the filter process.
Our only real problem at this stage is the fact you can’t see the video in action at all until it has finished rendering. Seeing the effect applied to one shot isn’t enough to really get a feel of what it will look like post-render. We’d be willing to wait a few seconds in an optional “preview” mode that renders a few seconds of footage, as it will save time if you end up not liking the effect.
Overall, the package Red Giant has built is impressive. Our problems were all small letdowns, than can be easily fixed in updates. For raw power and options, it’s a tough package to beat, and at £1.49 on the App store, it represents great value. It’s perfect for the Instagram filter obsessed world we live in – just don’t post a new video every 10 seconds on our Facebook walls, OK?