Why my video-production-for-idiots wish list has Instagram to blame.

I’m trying to set my kids up to do small-scale, light-weight, video production totally on an iPad 3. The trouble is that the iPad is not really designed for it. Seamless end-to-end video production is still some way off for the iPad.

By comparison, my experience as a amateur happy snapper photographer has been quite different. Seamless, in fact. As someone whose only camera is the one on my iPhone, and whose photographic aspirations don’t really amount to much more than capturing images of family and places I go, the iPhone + Instagram experience has been very gratifying. Over the years I’ve been able to add a Mac, PhotoStream, and iPad to this along with a couple of cool apps like Camera+ on the iPhone and Snapseed on the iPad.

Here’s how my photo experience goes. I snap my badly composed random photos of whoever and whatever. Then I edit them on Instagram. That’s just simple cropping plus a filter. Then I share these on Facebook. All from my phone. Now that I’ve converted from Mac to PC, the PhotoStream picks up the new images from the phone’s photo stream and wirelessly syncs them to my Mac and iPad. I don’t have to do anything.

If I’m feeling adventurous I’ll use Camera+ on my iPhone to do a bit more fine tuning and editing before I Instagram a photo. Camera+ gives me just a bit more control than Instagram and a few more different filters, which means my photos hopefully look slightly different than the others I share with on Instagram (mainly family and close friends).

If my iPad is handy and I’ve got time, I might mess around with Snapseed, which again gives me more editing features and a few extra cool filters again. Because I’m not a great photographer I love the filters. Add the Camera+ clarity effect plus some filter and my shots look a million dollars. Or at least that how I feel any way. It makes me happy. And it’s easy and quick.

I don’t care about all the technical stuff. I’m not bothered that the quality of my images has been downgraded by the crappy filters. All I care about is the happiness that sharing my edited, filtered photos brings me and others. It’s pretty much one of my favorite things.

Now when I’ve come to look at what I want from video, you can see how my thinking has been shaped. I want to:

  1. Take the video on my iPhone.
  2. Have it sync wireless with my Mac and my iPad – let’s call this the Apple VideoStream even though it doesn’t exist yet.
  3. Edit it on my iPad using a cool, easy to use video editing suite.
  4. Add filters and special effects including SloMo and FastMo
  5. Save back to the VideoStream
  6. Upload to YouTube or Facebook.

Not too much to ask? These were my expectations when I started experimenting with video recently. These assumptions were totally based on my experience with still images and from using Instagram

What I found out was that it’s a bit more complicated and the technology is not quite there yet. Here’s the skinny:

  • VideoStream does not exist as mentioned above. It’s a pain the butt to transfer video wirelessly between iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apparently, the files are a lot bigger and there’s much more data to shift. Like I care…!
  • However, there’s an app for that: there’s an app called Photo Transfer that allows me to do this. Just takes a bit of time depending on how much video I’m moving.
  • Video editing is pretty basic on the iPad. Fortunately, I have low expectations not really being a video guy. iMovie does a great job from what I can make out, but I settled on Avid Studio because it just seemed cooler.
  • I wanted to use filters on my video footage just like I do on my photographs. I’m assuming that this would make my very average family videos seem much cooler than they really are. Trouble is that this is problematic. Too much data… There are iPhone apps that will do this but they tend to downgrade the video quality severely and aren’t that fun to use. They take ages to render the effect and my patience just isn’t that long. I just want video to behave like photos…
  • It’s a no go on SloMo and FastMo as well. Again, there’s an iPhone app but it kinda sucks on the iPad and the quality gets downgraded.
  • The Avid Studio video editing suite does allow for three extra audio tracks to be recorded over the original. That was a pretty cool discovery. This means I can add a voiceover narration, a music track and still have another track for sound effects or something else.
  • If I upload my final product to YouTube, I found out that there is a built in video editor that will allow me to do a couple of other extra things that the Avid Studio app won’t do. One of these is correct dodgy lighting, and the other is… you guessed it: I can add cool filters just like on Instagram. I haven’t tried this yet, but here’s hoping.
  • Another cool discovery was that I figured out my Blue Yeti USB mic plugs into the iPad via the camera connector kit that transforms the iPad connector plug into a USB port. But, the mic needs more juice than the iPad can deliver so I need to get a powered USB hub to make this work.

So there you have it. Instagram is to blame for what I now expect from Apple for my video experience. I don’t care about the technical limitations, I just want the result. But, the result at present is a compromise. My kids can do full video production on the iPad if we’re prepared to use several apps to achieve what happens pretty automatically with images on the iPhone. This is workable.

We can even do high quality audio recording direct to iPad with my Yeti mic. It’s not the totally wires free experience I was anticipating as the USB hub needs power, but it’s close. I just have to choose the right powered USB hub next.

I’d be happy with fake SloMo, by the way. Someone?

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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