The iPhone is an incredibly powerful device, at once a smartphone, a hit gaming platform, a productivity powerhouse and an ideal social networking tool. But my favorite component has always been the camera, and the high-definition video capability introduced with the iPhone 4.
It’s no DSLR, to be sure… but for a phone, the photos and videos are the best you’ll find anywhere. And with Apple’s own iMovie app for iOS (a touch-optimized version of the desktop app), you can edit something together wherever you are — trim and reorder clips, and add transitions, titles, and background music.
That this is possible on a smartphone is mindboggling to anyone who edited video only five years ago. And for all its capabilities, iMovie is a deal for under $5.
And there are literally hundreds of photo and video apps available for the iPhone that are free. Some are great, some are a mess, and some are disappointingly basic. When I heard that Paramount Digital Entertainment had released a free “Super 8″ video app to promote the upcoming “Super 8″ feature film, I figured it would fall firmly in the latter category, some flimsy features that mostly delivered advertising for the movie.
Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the “Super 8″ app was well designed, offered a solid array of tools, and — most importantly – was fun to use. It definitely evokes the nostalgia of handheld 8mm movie-making (a hobby now over a century old).
“Super 8″ lets you record video (front or rear camera, with a toggle to use the iPhone 4 flash as a light), add a variety of filters and effects, then reorder several clips, add credits, and edit together a movie that looks and feels like something Steven Spielberg might have made as a kid.
In fact, the grainy look and feel (kicked up another notch with an optional “scratch-and-dirt” overlay) may encourage you to be more playful with your videos, or feel less pressure to compose a masterpiece.
I love that the filters and effects are applied live, rather than added into recorded clips via a separate, time-consuming rendering process. And the editing features, rudimentary as they are, immediately catapult “Super 8″ ahead of most video apps… especially since you can mix and match clips using different settings into one piece.
The “Frame Shake Effect” is a nice touch, translating any shakes or bumps to the iPhone into skipped and slipped frames in your video. And the meticulous design of the app, invoking classic 8mm camera hardware, is just icing on the cake.
All in all, not bad for an app designed to promote a Hollywood blockbuster. (And yes, in the app, there are “easter eggs” or hidden clues to whet your appetite for the flick.) And definitely not bad for something that’s free. At least for a limited time.
If you’ve got an iPhone, and like taking videos (or would like to start), it’s a no brainer. Download “Super 8″ from the iTunes App Store.
Here’s a “Super 8″ video I put together in under ten minutes with the help of my 8-year-old son Zac:
And here are some screenshots: