May 28, 2011
Most recreational and avid photography hobbyists undoubtedly remember this impressive HDR video posted to Vimeo last fall. In eight months since then, the Soviet Montage team (a.k.a. greenlike) responsible for the demo has developed Flare, an iPhone app to replicate the look and feel of their professional HDR video solution. For those unfamiliar with the technology, HDR ("high dynamic range") photographs are simply over- and under-exposed snaps layered into one image. The result is usually dreamlike and soft, with heightened brights and deep, rich shadows. There are several camera apps available that offer modifiable HDR presets for your iPhone (TrueHDR, Pro HDR, etc.), and Apple's standard, optional implementation is subtle but still indicative of process' purpose and power. Unfortunately, capturing HDR photos requires a lot of post-processing. As such, HDR video filtering hasn't taken off on iTunes as quickly as expected. But Flare should change all that. A lightweight utility, the app is an expertly-crafted production that shoots video via one of three preset HDR filters. "SVM-910" is the highest-contrast choice, offering a darkish haze to everything, while the "SFT-734" setting provides super-saturated whites and washed-out blooming. My favorite filter, "HDR-850," lies somewhere between the other two, capturing movies that are both sharply-defined and hyper-colorful. View the following clips for examples of each (in the order mentioned), keeping in mind that the app works best when used in direct sunlight or naturally-lit areas. (The videos created are far more clear in reality, as I experienced some issues in the YouTube upload process.) As you can see, Flare's output isn't exactly in line with the quality of HDR still-photos that iPhone can make, but it is mostly successful in its ambitious approach. And -- at only $1.99 -- the app is a must-have for any HDR lover.