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Try Cinamatic, a Video-Editing App Whose Filters Are More Than Just Throwbacks

·National Correspondent, Technology

Thanks to hugely popular apps like Instagram, we all know exactly what a photo of a cupcake looked like in the 1970s. But Instagram’s foray into video doesn’t necessarily reflect film eras with as much authenticity. After all, movie eras aren’t just represented by a shade of film, but by animation, pace, and reel quality.

The makers of the photo app Hipstamatic hope to fill this void with Cinamatic, a $1.99 iOS app that launched Thursday. The video-making tool allows you to record a 15-second video with the tap of your finger, and then layer it with a variety of era-inspired effects, including animation, reflections, built-in glitches, and movie splotches. The final product is a short .mov file that doesn’t live on the Internet unless you choose to share it.

According to Hipstamatic creative director Aravind Kaimal, these treatments were inspired by his favorite old Hollywood genres.

“We were pretty much looking at movies from back in the day that we loved,” Kaimal told Yahoo Tech. “We were inspired by these little retro layers. … We wanted to create a realm that is inspired by these pieces but almost our own personal versions of those.”

For example, a filter called Cronkite channels the speedy newsreels of his heyday by changing the frame rate of your original clip.

Both Kaimal and Hipstamatic CEO and founder Lucas Buick are aware of their company’s likeness to Vine and — especially — Instagram, which have both released video products on their platforms recently. But they say those associations are inaccurate.

“There’s the obvious comparison that we’re square and filtered, but really beyond that it doesn’t go too much further,” Buick said.

“But isn’t square, like, what we made and Instagram took it?” Kaimal added.

As a matter of fact, their first app, Hipstamatic, was the first to introduce square photos with nostalgic effects in 2009, a feature that was later adopted by Instagram. Regardless of its commercial success, though, the two don’t see Instagram as a competitor.

“We’re not trying to build out Instagram or video or compete with Vine,” Lucas said. “Cinamatic is really focused on being a tool to create. That’s one of the big differences.”

Here’s how it works:

1. Just like Hipstamatic, the Cinamatic app is for iOS devices only and costs $1.99. Download it here.

2. You won’t have to sign in with Facebook or create a log-in, which is a nice change, and a good reminder that for all the comparisons Cinamatic might receive to Instagram or Vine, it is by no means a social network. Knowing that, allowing the app to access my microphone and current location was much less nerve-racking. Just tap Start Recording to begin.


3. You’ll be brought to the home screen. Roll the figurative tape by holding your finger down on the red button. Every time you lift it, the video will stop. In this sense, it works pretty much the same way Instagram and Vine do. 


4. You’ll notice that the number of seconds you’ve recorded is displayed at the top of your screen. You can tape anywhere between three and 15 seconds. That’s why the app’s designers call these “short films.”


5. When you’ve filmed to your heart’s desire, tap the purple checkmark bubble.


6. You’ll be brought to a page that previews your movie sans filter. Below will be a starter kit of the app’s five most basic filters (and a sixth square that will invite you to shop for more at 99 cents apiece). Tap on each square to see what it’ll look like layered on your video. I highly recommend watching each one all the way through. They’re all very era-specific and thoughtful, much more than just a wash of color.


7. Now’s the part where you choose where you want this to go. Next to a preview still of your video, you’ll see where the video was taken, when it was shot, how long it is, and what filter you used. Like I mentioned before, Cinamatic prides itself on being an artistic — not a social — company first. Which is why it’s happily allowing you to post your content directly to Instagram, Vine, or Facebook. Or to email/message it.


8. Feel free to add a caption. If you’re not sure where you want to send it, just select Save & Close.


Here’s a GIF-ified version of a finished Cinamatic video.

It’s that simple. Go try it yourself. Your followers won’t know what hit them come next Throwback Thursday.

Follow Alyssa Bereznak on Twitter or email her here.