I’ve been playing with Spark Camera by IDEO quite a bit this past week, an exquisite little app that makes directing your own little mini movie montages stupid simple. Spark’s interface is a gorgeous blend of crisp lines, playful circular icons, all in subtly muted primary and secondary colors laid down on creamy realtime blurs of whatever your camera might be pointed at.
Tap a can’t miss camera button to get things started. From there, Spark takes a cue from Vine, using a “press and hold to record” approach to build up a number of clips. Spark movies are limited to 45 seconds, so a circular time line helps you keep track of how many clips you’ve recorded and how much time you have left. Once done you can either cancel your project or more likely, play it. I love that Spark lets you immediately play your movie and then try out one of the 11 included filters in real time, no rendering, no waiting, perfect.
For the real artistes, Spark also makes editing your movie as simple as recording it. A scissors icon opens up all of your movie’s clips in a horizontal row at the bottom of the screen while your movie plays in a continuous loop in the background. Tap and drag to rearrange the clips (smartly reflected in the background movie’s playback), tap on a clip to trim it, again using Spark’s circular timeline- this time with “start and end knobs” for scrubbing to the right location, or even augment your movie by adding clips from your camera roll. Once you’re done and your movie looks tight, just tap on it to go back to either add a music track, experiment with different filters, or just view your work. A save button will deposit your movie to your camera roll, after which Spark will offer you the choice of sharing your movie via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, message, and email. The whole process is seamless, smooth, and fast, a 45 second movie takes roughly 10–12 sec to save on my iPhone 5s.
Spark gets so many things right: a perfectly intuitive interface, good looks, seamless editing, and in the end, much more compelling movies than simply using your iPhone’s camera app. For videophiles, Spark lacks extensive editing options and outputs at “only” 720p, while for average consumers I suspect many will wish Spark had a few more filters (for me, “Havana” makes most things look nice), and that’s largely the extent of Spark’s negatives. Consumer oriented Spark isn’t the most powerful image editor by any means, nor is it even entirely original (For example, MixBit), but Spark is remarkably easy to use, and more than effective at taking friend and family pleasing videos.
Spark may or may not turn out to be your go to video recording app, but at $1.99 it is well worth downloading and taking for a spin. Given that Spark is currently free as Apple’s “App of the Week” and is a universal app, I’d say grab it now.
Spark Camera by IDEO is $1.99 and available for iPhone and iPad