Make the World Smaller With MiniatureCam

For the uninitiated, tilt-shift is a photography technique which makes the subjects in focus appear to be miniature, while everything outside of that focus is left slightly blurry. Take full advantage of your iPhone’s high-quality camera with MiniatureCam, with which you can easily make stop-motion and tilt-shift videos and photos.

Pleasantly, MiniatureCam provides the user with plenty of options for customization, meaning your videos will be even more unique. Click “more” and I’ll give you a tour.

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Overview

MiniatureCam has quite a few bells and whistles on its main screen. Roughly two-thirds is your viewing screen, showing whatever you’re filming or photographing. In the upper right of the viewing screen, you have the option of flipping the camera’s focus, either forward or backward.

On the control panel you can turn stop-motion on or off, change video speed, adjust the plane of focus for tilt-shift effects and more.

On the control panel you can turn stop-motion on or off, change video speed, adjust the plane of focus for tilt-shift effects and more.

On the control panel in the lower-third, on the left, are controls for turning the stop-motion feature on and off, for changing the speed (x1/2, x2, x4, x8), and switching between video and photo. In the center, you have your capture button as well as options for Default: aka non-tilt-shift; A: tilt-shift with horizontal plane of focus; and B: tilt-shift with a circular plane of focus. And the righthand controls are for (from top to bottom) blur, contrast, brightness and saturation, with the slider to adjust each of them.

In the very top left is your album, where your photos and videos are saved. And in the very top right are your settings, where you can change the levels of video or photo quality, turn the toy effect on or off, tell the app to automatically save photos to your camera roll, and more.

Video Features

Stop-motion and speed adjustment are only relevant when you’re creating a video. In contrast to a video that plays continuous action (all the frames in smooth, continuous succession), a stop-motion (or stop-frame) video records frames at intervals and then plays them in succession to create a start-and-stop effect.

To turn the stop-motion effect on or off, simply tap the reel button. To adjust the speed of your video (which must be done prior to shooting the video), touch the speed button until a list pops up with your options. Select the speed you want. (Note that choosing a speed other than normal means losing your original audio and the video will be silent unless you add music or other audio later.)

Which plane of focus — circular or horizontal — you choose depends on what you’re filming. For example, if you’re shooting a video of cars on a street, the horizontal option would allow you to have a whole section of the screen from left to right in focus.

The app offers both circular and linear planes of focus, which you can manipulate by dragging, pinching and rotating.

The app offers both circular and linear planes of focus, which you can manipulate by dragging, pinching and rotating.

If you’re focusing instead on a single thing, for example, a carousel, then the circular option would make that particular object your video’s center of attention. However which one you use is ultimately up to your personal and artistic preferences.

Note that when you choose one of the tilt-shift filters, thin white lines appear (again, either straight lines, or in a circular pattern) to show you what’s in focus within the frame. You can alter the placement of these lines by dragging them on the screen to better suit your needs. Pinch and pull the screen to make them narrower, wider, rotate the lines horizontally or vertically, whatever you want.

Extra Features

After you’ve captured a video, you can play it back on the preview screen before saving it to your album. If you decide not to save, just click Back and the video will be lost forever. If you do decide to save, on this same screen you can also choose to add music to your video. There are 10 in-app tracks that cover a wide range of genres, everything from rock to blues to soft instrumental.

After you've made a video, extra options include adding music or saving the video to play in reverse.

After you’ve made a video, extra options include adding music or saving the video to play in reverse.

You can also add your own music by clicking the music note in the top right corner. MiniatureCam will then present you with a list of the songs presently on your iPhone to choose from. The app will also remind you that if your selection is copyrighted by another party you likely will not be able to legally post the video on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

Another option on this same pre-save screen is to reverse the video. Unfortunately, there’s no way to preview the video in reverse before deciding to save it that way — you just have to risk it. Clicking the reverse button will illuminate it, meaning you’ve chosen to save the video in reverse, then click save. The app will next take you to your album, where you can view the video.

Social Features

From your album, videos and photos can be sent to Facebook or Twitter, saved to camera roll, shared vie email, deleted, or submitted to the MiniatureCam contest (videos only).

View other users' videos while in the app, or share your own videos via Facebook, Twitter or email. (Image on right: “View 1” by Chimes89)

View other users’ videos while in the app, or share your own videos via Facebook, Twitter or email. (Image on right: “View 1” by Chimes89)

In your album, click the ribbon in the top right to view and watch videos by other users and filter them according to new videos or most rated or most viewed. Displayed for each video is its name, the user, the number of views, and the number of likes.

Final Thoughts

MiniatureCam can’t help you create a stop-motion video in the truest sense of the genre, which involves creating a video of an object from many photographs and then playing them rapidly one after the other so that the object appears to move of its own accord. The app has no functionality for that sort of technique, but its stop-motion mode is meant to mimic the effect, which I’d say it does a great job of doing.

However, a few things about this app leave me confused. I’m not sure what the Toy Effect on the settings screen means, as turning this off or on had no noticeable impact on any of the videos or photos I made. I also wonder why the user isn’t given the ability of previewing the video with the reverse effect before saving it. I’m sure there’s a technical reason for this that’s beyond my scope of knowledge, but all the same, that option remains on my wish list for MiniatureCam.

Overall, this is a powerful app that is a lot of fun to use. There’s a lot going on in the control panel, which was a little intimidating at first, but after I learned my way around the app I certainly appreciated the many available customizations.


Summary

Create tilt-shift and stop-motion videos, plus take photos of objects that appear miniature.

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