Shoot 4K on your iPhone: the Vizzywig 8xHD app

Shoot 4K on your iPhone: the Vizzywig 8xHD app


Lots of Android phones shoot 4K out of the box, whereas the iPhone tops out at full HD. Just recently a company called i4software set out to change that with the release of their Vizzywig 8xHD app. The initial price of the app came in at a rather hefty 1000 dollars, but here we are, just a few weeks later and the price has dropped to a more reasonable 50 dollars. A first impressions review.

The app promises to offer 4K video recording by combining a continuous burst of 8MP images into a 24frames per second 4K movie. Sound is recorded seperately and then recombined with the video when rendering the final movie. A great promise, but how does it work out in practice?

When first opening the app, it doesn't exactly look as polished as the app's price would suggest. The interface is a little messy and things like scrolling through the options can be hard sometimes. If you look past the clunky interface, the app does offer a lot of customisation options: you can set the resolution, jpg quality, frame rate (24/30fps), 4K export quality and much more. You can even activate audio meters or video stabilisation. The app seems to be aimed at delivering fully edited movies, as it contains options to add transitions and credits, and direct upload to YouTube or Vimeo. In fact, I couldn't find an option to save the video directly to my camera roll.

Filming with the app is pretty straightforward: press the big red record button and off you go. You can literally hear the camera burst while you record, unless you completely mute the volume of your phone. Because of the amount of noise, you're torn between the feeling of holding an ancient 16mm camera and the thought of how taxing this operation must be on your phone.

The app actually has a very nice screen for manually setting exposure, white balance and even manually focussing. This, and the apps price tag suggest that the app is aimed at advanced users. Great to have so much control built in to the app!

Rendering and uploading

Once you've recorded a shot, the app needs to render your video, and this may take a while. On my iPhone 6 it took 15 minutes to render a 30 second clip. Also, be prepared to empty your phone before you start recording: my 30 second clip took up 1,5GB of space on my phone. This makes the app more suitable for short detailed B-roll footage, than for long interviews.

There's a strange bug in the rendering screen, where the number of frames the app is rendering, exceeds the number of frames that need to be rendered (see screenshot below). Nothing alarming, it just shows that the app is relatively new and still under development.

Mysterious math: rendering frame 342 of 284...

Something I ran in to when trying to upload through YouTube is that I repeatedly got the message that my YouTube account details weren't correct, while I knew they were. Turns out I first had to go to my Google account details and lower the overall security. After that, my account details were accepted, and the video was uploaded. Though this is Googles way of dealing with things, it would have been nice if the error message in the app had been more descriptive.

What's the quality like?

My first endeavours did not turn out too well: after having waited for about half an hour for my 30 second clip to render and upload, all I got was a stuttering clip, with frames skipping back and forth. The manufacturer contacted me and suggested the problem might be the shutter speed. Further testing confirmed this: setting the shutter speed manually fixed the motion rendering issue. Another issue that might be at play here is that the iPhone 6 is currently throttled down to 10fps by Apple, whereas the older iPhone 5s can do 24fps. Hopefully Apple fixes this in an iOS update.

Apart from the choppy (iPhone6 caused) motion, the image is indeed very detailed and clean, with nice colours and contrast. You get the best results when using a tripod and setting exposure manually. The higher the shutter speed, the more detailed the image.

Conclusion

It's great to see how app-makers are willing to push the boundaries of what's possible with the iPhone, sometimes in unconventional ways. The app requires some fiddling and reading-up to get good results, and usability can be improved here and there, but the technology and the amount of control you get with this app is exciting. The author seems to be dedicated to improving the app and responding to feedback, so I'm confident that most of the apps quirks will be fixed soon. Because the app is pushing the boundaries of what iOS is capable of, some things are out of the manufacturers control (like the max framerate on the iPhone 6). Let's hope Apple sees the benefits of this app, and supports it.

Should you buy the app? If you have an iPhone 5s, it's easily the best (and only) app to get higly detailed video from your phone. If you have an iPhone 6 it might be wise to wait a little longer to see if Apple updates its support for high framerates.

Buy

You can get the Vizzywig 8xHD app at the App Store.




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