The great filter race between Instagram and Hipstamatic for social photo glory may be long over, but Hipstamatic is far from finished.
On Thursday, the company launched Cinamatic, a £1.49/US$2 video app that sticks to the classic mobile photo formula of being "square, filtered, and fantastic", as well as short in length. In development for the past three years, Cinamatic is finally ready for the masses to start making their own video creations – if you have an iPhone, that is.
Though a little late to the video party, the team at Hipstamatic wants to emphasize the video as an art form rather than a throwaway moment to share with friends. Videos are referred to as "short films" throughout the app, and you'll see an example of one of these short films upon launching Cinamatic for the first time.
You then head immediately to the recording screen, where you'll see a square video window and a big red Record button. You guessed it: Just tap the button to start recording, and let go to stop. Videos can be 3- to 15-seconds long, and you can start and stop recording to piece together short clips. Two timers keep you on track: One at the top of the screen measures the total recorded time down to the decisecond (for example, 12.6 seconds), and one at the bottom of the screen fills in a ring around the record button. When the ring fills up completely, you're out of time.
Besides the record button, your only other controls during the video recording process are toggling on or off the iPhone's flash, and switching between the front- and back-facing cameras. When you're finished recording, tap the check mark to start editing, tap the "X" to delete it and start over, or save your clips to edit them later.
Now that you've created a 15-second masterpiece, it's time to add the finishing touches with everyone's favorite feature – filters. Cinamatic comes with five free filters already installed, which pretty much run the gamut of filter essentials. You have Darwin, the crackling warm-toned filter that looks like you used a vintage 8-millimetre camera; the black-and-white Andrei; the sepia-tinted Marc; Bennett, with overly saturated bright colorus; and the slightly hazy Robert.
If you're not impressed with any of these filter options, you can browse the Cinamatic shop for more. Single filters cost 69p/$1, or you could buy one of two filter packs – the Starter Cinapak has five additional filters for £2.49/$4, and the Vintage Cinapak has three filters for £1.49/$2.
Once you've selected your filter, finalize your film with a caption. Cinamatic tags your video's location (if you allow it to access your location, of course), and also displays the date and time your video was made, along with the filter you used. The app supports sharing with Vine, Instagram, and Facebook--or messages and email, if you're more of a recluse when it comes to sharing. (Oddly, the app's sharing features leave out Hipstamatic's own photo-sharing service, Oggl, from the mix.) Processed videos are then stored to your Camera Roll.
Besides beautiful filters, Cinamatic's standout feature is how it transitions between video clips. Your finished product will have a start screen with the video's location, and the app's processing engine automatically adds smooth transitions between each scene in a video. According to Hipstamatic founder Lucas Buick, each of these effects is customized depending on the video's subject and length of each clip. The end result is stunningly polished, which is surprising given the quick and easy experience of making a video – excuse me, film – with Cinamatic.
Hipstamatic's team cleverly designed Cinamatic to work cohesively with your social accounts, not compete against them. Cinematic doesn't have a feed or a way to watch other videos that your friends have made from within the app itself. However, it jives with both Instagram and Vine's length restrictions (just be sure to keep your eye on the timer if you'd like to eventually post to Vine) while adding sophisticated filters and features that are--dare I say it--a bit more detailed than what the other apps offer. And it's simple enough to use that the experience doesn't feel like you're adding an additional step: You're going through the same motions, then choosing how and where to share it when you're finished.