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Can anyone truly be a filmmaker? Francis Ford Coppola famously predicted such a future in the documentary Hearts of Darkness, and developer John Clem seems to agree, having created the CinePro app for this very purpose.
While the built-in iOS Camera app is fine for quick home videos, it leaves a lot to be desired for camcorder Coppolas looking to make the most of their mobile cinematography. CinePro’s landscape-only UI is tucked away at the top and bottom of the screen, the area normally just a black matte while shooting HD video in proper 16:9 aspect ratio. Settings such as frame rate, exposure, focus, and more can be adjusted via pop-up menus. While CinePro comes with seven filters, four additional sets are available as in-app purchases for $0.99 each. We tried two, Tilt Shift (for making foreground objects appear smaller) and Film Studio (Hollywood-style “looks”), and they both worked well.
Adjustments calls up a slider wheel to fine-tune effects. Video bitrate can be adjusted prior to recording, from Low (5mbps) to Extreme (55mbps) at various frame rates. To start and stop recording, tap the red button in the lower right corner. Filters and adjustments can be recorded in real time with one exception: Toggling on “Best Available” pushes quality from 720p to native 1080p with the iPhone 4S, requiring filters to be applied after recording. While this may be preferred for pro shooters, it does limit the usefulness of the app for on-the-go shooting.
CinePro 1.4 also seems plagued by at least one show-stopping bug. On my iPhone 4S, Normal mode records only in black-and-white instead of color, while videos recorded in film-friendly 24fps actually get saved at seemingly random frame rates (19.6fps) when played in QuickTime Player.
The bottom line. While it may not improve one’s skills as a filmmaker, CinePro offers a more robust tool set than Apple’s own Camera app. The price is certainly affordable for the feature set, but I’m giving it a cautious recommendation for now until existing bugs get squashed.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later
Nice variety of filters and looks. In-app media playback offers quick sharing to YouTube and social networks. Manual setting allow videographers complete control over results.
Highest-quality mode requires adding filters or adjustments after recording. Bug causes Normal mode to record in black-and-white only. Videos saved to camera roll result in non-standard frame rates.