Photo courtesy of Amit Man
By Ed Baig
Amit Man doesn't think small. He only wants to reinvent photography. Based on his clever and free new iPhone app called Takes, he may just have the chops to at least make an impact.
The app solves a basic problem that often faces the casual shooter: do you snap a digital still or capture video? With Takes you don't have to make that decision.
When using the app, you shoot a bunch of regular pictures just like you always do. And those pictures land in the iPhone's Camera Roll just like they always do.
But a remarkable thing is happening in the background. By selecting up to 15 of the images you just shot, Takes can automatically transform them into a video, backed by musical soundtrack.
You're probably thinking Takes must be compiling a corny slideshow that incorporates the chosen snapshots, but that's not what's happening. Your footage may still be corny, but the app produces actual videos with action and motion that come off like you put some time and thought into producing them. For example, if your subject dove into a swimming pool when you shot the picture, an ordinary photograph would just capture a single moment in time from that dive. Takes can show the complete dive as part of a finished video.
The toughest decision you may have is picking which 15 (or fewer) pictures on which to base the video. You also have the option to change the soundtrack if you don't like the musical snippet that Takes automatically selects, matched to the length of the video -- the app comes with a bunch of songs for this purpose. You can also apply various filters (16mm, grunge sepia, etc.) to dress up the video.
But the fact that you're actually getting videos when all you figured you were taking were stills is the headline here. Without you knowing it, Takes starts capturing video when you open the camera inside the app to preview what you think you're about to shoot. When you snap a picture the app also grabs this extra footage. Then after you select the photos to use in the video, the apps works its magic to choose the best stuff. Each individual photo has a clip or a "Take" associated with it. Man explains that the software is smart to ignore anything shot when the camera was pointed at the ground and to avoid jittery footage.
There's a social component to all this, too. You can share the videos on Facebook or Twitter, send them by email, or save the video to your Camera Roll. From within the app, you can see the best Takes shared by others.
In lieu of the music supplied by Takes, you can choose songs from your own iTunes library as your soundtrack, but to protect intellectual property, Takes doesn't let you directly share those videos publicly.
Though I think Takes is very cool, I do have a few quibbles. It could be easier to apply filters. The app crashed a couple of times. And I wish you could exceed the 15-photo limit, a possible feature in the future, perhaps even for a fee. But Man says limiting the number keeps the overall videos short enough so that your viewers won't get bored, and is a discipline that is "forcing you to make good videos."
Takes is available now in Apple's App Store ahead of SXSW, where Man plans to show the app off. Down the road, he also expects to come out with a version for Android. But why stop there? "We are aiming to replace your camera," Man says. "If you already take the photos, why not add this cool video?"