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Instagram Launches New App Hyperlapse, Cinematic Tech Straight From Your Phone!

On the 27th of August 1am SGT (10am PST), Instagram released something that they’ve worked on for the past year – Hyperlapse, a standalone video application with time-lapse and image-stabilising capabilities. This is Instagram’s first venture into expanding its app family, and Hyperlapse almost seems like the natural next step its goal to inspire visual creativity and making complex photography simple for all.

Time-lapse is where video is captured at lower frame-rate than normal, and then played back at a standard frame rate. This means that you can record the sun slowly rising for minutes, and Hyperlapse can show all of your footage sped up in just seconds with missing a single beat.

To top it off, Hyperlapse’s state of the art image stabilization helps smoothen out jerky movements to make them smooth and comfortable to watch. So if you film a walk through the park that takes a few minutes, the footage will show a few seconds of a beautiful glide through the park, making your footage look beautiful and cinematic.

This technique has been used by many professional videographers to show hours of footage in a few seconds, but with the help of professional, and often expensive, equipment. Now, this technology is available directly in your phone. The possibilities are endless.

The Vulcan Post Team was invited to have a first hand look at the app at the Facebook Office in Singapore, as well as speak to Gabe Madway, Technology Communications Manager, Instagram.

This has been in the works for about a year, and according to Madway, have been used internally by the Facebook and Instagram team for quite a months now (yet another reason to want to work for Facebook). Madway, representing the Instagram team from it’s headquarters in Menlo Park, is excited for the global release of Hyperlapse, and was happy to answer our questions about the app.

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First Glance Review

Image Credit: Instagram
Image Credit: Instagram

The first thing you would realise is that Hyperlapse is a separate app from their original Instagram app. Now before another Facebook Messenger fiasco occurs again, Madway did have a valid reason. The technology behind Hyperlapse is immense, and squeezing it into the original Instagram app would constrain our ability to use it to it’s fullest extent.

“With a standalone app, you can make a video that is a minute long or a minute and a half long – you can decide for yourself, or you can create something that is fifteen seconds long to put in the (Instagram) app,” said Madway.

“We thought (Hyperlapse) deserved to stand on its own, to create content that is bigger than Instagram.”

Seeing the app first hand, the simplicity struck me first. When you open up the Hyperlapse app, it instantly shows a full screen view of what is before your camera, and in the middle of the screen is a circle that you tap to start recording. On the left and right of the circle, numbers will start showing up, with the numbers on the left being the actual length of the footage you’ve taken, and the right the length of the shortened ‘hyperlapsed’ version.

After you’re done recording, you can opt to increase or decrease the speed of the footage as you like. It’s simple and intuitive to use, and at face value it just looks great. The stability function also works like a dream, making filming with shaky hands or while moving incredibly easy. If the Blair Witch Project were filmed on Hyperlapse, it would look like a beautiful stroll through the woods.

However, the app does have limitations. When the footage is sped up, it doesn’t keep the audio footage. This may be a pro or con depending on the person filming, but it would be nice to have the option.

Also, the app has problems when the area you’re filming isn’t well-lit, so filming indoors on a gloomy day may be an issue for some. The lack of adaptability is frustrating, especially for people who would like the flexibility to whip out their camera and film instantly. Hopefully these limitations would get fixed in the future.

The worst problem of all is that Hyperlapse is not available on Android! Once again, there is a good reason for this, albeit a frustrating one.

“Our technology uses the gyroscope in the phone to stabilise the image (…) We can’t access the gyroscope the way we need to on Android,” said Madway on the issue. “Android is a really improtant platform for us(…) We want to be there, and we hope to bring it to that platform soon.”

Is It Anything Special?

Microsoft's research into hyperlapse videography with a go-pro like camera (Image Credit: www.roadtovr.com)
Microsoft’s research into hyperlapse videography with a go-pro like camera (Image Credit: www.roadtovr.com)

Earlier this month, Microsoft happened to announce a project under the same name – Hyperlapse – that also intends to improve timelapse videography with image stabilization. However, Madway denied any knowledge of this up until its release in the news.

Either way, Instagram is still the first to release this technology as a complete package – image stabilisation, time lapse video, and crisp, clear quality all from your phone. Looking at the app gave me a million-and-one ideas on where and how to use it, and I was personally excited to get the app straight away.

However, there may be trouble in the horizon. iOS 8 has also announced its time lapse function in it’s built-in camera app, also allowing videos to be sped up as we like. If the iPhone 6 is anything to look forward to, the camera should have amazing resolution as well. The buzz of Hyperlapse may possibly die out on its release, should the quality of its videos be even just up to par.

New Timelapse function for iOS 8 (Image Credit: Apple.com)
New Timelapse function for iOS 8 (Image Credit: Apple.com)

There is also a possibility that the ‘creatives’ that Instagram aim to appeal to, meaning people who have jobs in or engage in creative work, may be upset by the fact that this technology is now available for the masses, when it used to cost a lot of money and take a lot of professional expertise to execute.

Now, the quality of layman videos just leapt another step, and ‘creative purists’ may not be too happy about that. When asked his opinion on the possibility, Madway only said, “I never thought of that – I guess we’ll see.”

Image Credit: Instagram
Image Credit: Instagram

Despite all this, Instagram seems very optimistic about Hyperlapse and its contributions to creatives, and even the masses. “It’s just a ton of fun to use, and something you can pick up in like fifteen seconds to make amazing videos. We wouldn’t be surprised if (even) everyday folks wanna make something different and something fun and something visually creative.”

“I don’t think there’s a limit to who this might appeal to.”

Hyperlapse is available now from the iTunes Store, and can be used on both iPhones and iPads.

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