Instagram HyperLapse


A new movie capturing app from photo sharing platform Instagram promises to bring powerful ‘steadying’ capabilities to your iPhone (and Android phone very soon).

Ordinarily steadying or ‘anti-shake’ software maps every frame in a clip and tracks constant elements to determine the movement of the camera and use that information to fix unwanted movement. This takes a lot of processing power which is fine on a pro setup but no so much on a phone.

So rather than scan the film and drain your battery, Hyperlapse uses the phone’s gyroscope data as reference and fixes the movie up from that. This is by no means a simple process but, despite adding much more functionality to the Instagram app recently, Instagram Inc. are confident enough in Hyperlapse’ ability to put it out as a stand alone app.

I can’t wait to give it a go – how about you?

Read more on on the Instagram blog.

Show and Tell – Add Value with Video

Using video to Document a workshop on my iPad

Hey, it’s another blog post… I’ll pass thanks!

No, but wait… this one has a video… maybe I’ll stick around..!

We’re all a little bit impatient when it comes to finding the information we’re after – any yet how often have you ‘happily/accidentally’ lost an afternoon on YouTube? Just me? I doubt it! So, without question, if you want to deliver short chunks of information, quickly, and in an engaging manner then you can’t go far wrong with a video clip.

Tip 1) Video can be hosted free of charge at YouTube, Vimeo and others, and if you have a site hosted by the likes of WordPress then it’s a cinch to embed the video into a web page or blog post.

Video is a great way of visually getting a message across. I for one should use it more often to support my blogging activity but I do use video a lot in my work (see image above) in Service Design capturing user-journeys, for documenting workshops or illustrating a project – as I did here for Totally Dundee:

Video can also be great for sharing your working process. What better way give your audience insight into your daily routines than putting it in front of them! Imagine you work for ‘Carvers – The Pumpkin Carvers‘ – The average pumpkin takes around 30 minutes to sculpt into something scary – not an Oscar winner to be fair – however, get a little creative and you can achieve all sorts of wonders – like this:

or, how about this:

For more on Time-Lapse have a read of this.

The video below is for a project that I’ve been helping out on for a while.
Dementia Diary is about to begin the process of being piloted in Scotland. I created this video to bring the social services professionals who are less familiar with the concept up to speed. Given that time/money is precious, this video negates the need for an someone to visit various teams and explain the concept – we just send them the video.

UPDATE: Another aspect of this project was creating storyboards to tell why a Dementia Diary might be used, how it might come together or how it might look when it was finished. There are two ideas below which were illustrated by two key workers from Alzheimer Scotland, ie not illustrators. But with some very basic FREE software I made a slide show of their storyboard panels and added the audio from the feedback session of the workshop to tell the story.

In film-making (the Hollywood kind) this is similar to a process called Animatics – it’s a quick and inexpensive (but effective) way of telling a story using lo-fi techniques. And of course, if merited, a more polished version could be done afterwards.

Tip 2) If you want to get even more technical about your traffic then there are Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) plugins like this one which has the video show up as ‘on your site’ in Google listings (as opposed to its host destination on YouTube, etc…). It carries a cost but clearly a lot of people think it’s worth it.

And you don’t have to be a multi-media whizz. This video and the one directly before it were both created using Keynote (similar to Microsoft Powerpoint) – they’re essentially slide presentations exported to a movie clip and music added.
Again, if you get creative (and not too ‘bells and whistles’ with the effects), you can do a decent job.
There are also a range of simple tools available for mobile devices. I use iPhone and iPad so the apps I have are simply iMotionHD for time-lapse and animation and iMovie for editing. There are other apps too such as ToonCamera for a real-time comic-book effects – Video magic for photo-booth like distortion and colorisation. Also , and  – my final film below was captured, edited and exported to YouTube entirely on an iPad. (The Apps used would all work on iPad, and iPod touch.)

So it’s worth thinking about how you can use video to attract an audience to you blog, business or ideas – you don’t have to be a Steven Spielberg behind the camera or have a James Cameron budget – with a little creativity even the phone you already own can bump-start your movie career!


Share and share alike…

First rule of social media..?!Share and share alike


I’m thinking that this might make a good Tshirt design along the lines of the mock-up below… any comments or interest?

Have your say…


For your iConsideration


I’ve been delivering workshops over the last few months on capturing and editing digital content on mobile devices. Digital video and photography is nothing new of course, but, in recent years, colour correcting and editing content on the same device has become more than just a domestic option… many devices available to purchase on a modest budget, combined with software costing no more than your lunch money, can be your camera, your editing suite and your means of uploading to the web. In reality you can make an HD quality short movie and upload within minutes of completing the edit.

For the digital journalist, the ability to do this offers obvious benefits and potential – but is  this tech limited to nothing more than online content..?

Well, based on my experience with the media, available apps and subsequent results, I was poised to write about where I saw the potential this method of filmaking offers beyond YouTube, Vlogging or school projects.

Last summer I was commissioned by The Young Foundation to make a series of short films for a social innovation project. Initially I was a little shy about revealing my filmaking kit – an iPhone, an iPad and a laptop. However, I felt convinced that, given the sensitive nature of what I was to film (homeless hostels), smaller and less-intrusive kit would offer me a greater advantage over larger, very intimidating, HD broadcast quality digital cameras.

During this time I was reminded of a film released almost 10 years earlier – Tarnation (2003) was a documentary gathered from 20 years of ‘Super 8’ film and analogue video footage. The ‘first time’ film maker gathered his content, digitised it and edited together in Apple’s iMovie, the freebie digital movie editor bundled free on all Macs. At the time the iMovie application was ‘Final Cut Express-lite’ – ‘Final Cut Express‘ being ‘Final Cut-lite’. But this new documentary maker, 1) Didn’t know the difference and 2) didn’t have the money to use anything else – even the kit he had was loaned.

Within a few years of release Tarnation had garnered 8 film festival awards and several other nominations.

So, ten years back to the present, just as I’m about to write about where iPhone movie-making could be taking us in years to come, I find this on CNN – “$1.99 iPhone app saved Oscars film

I recommend you watch the clip but, essentially, within a few hours of me publishing this post, Searching for Sugarman (2012) may well be an Oscar winner, due (in a small but essential way), to a few essential ‘iPhone-captured’ shots!

iPhone app

The possibility of ever seeing a feature film made on an iPhone is highly unlikely. However, there are plenty of good reasons why we might see an Oscar/BFI/Cannes/etc… nominated documentary, (or even a short film) that was captured, edited and published on an ‘iDevice’.

The downside of course is that there may well be an awful lot more rubbish to wade through – however, a true creative spirit will always find a way… and so maybe, just maybe, one of next years golden statute winners is already walking around with a golden opportunity in their pocket.

UPDATE: Maybe you already know the story, but Searching For Sugarman won the Oscar for Best Documentary 2013 – congratulations to al involved!


iPad – therefore iLearn


Over the past 18 months I have had many opportunities to use the iPad as a learning tool and information on Playful Communications: learning and training services can be found here.

As a combination of camera, audio recorder, note-pad and presentation tool I initially thought it would be useful to me but more and more I’ve been finding apps that have supplied me with ideas for great learning projects both at home, in classrooms, colleges. I have been able to use the iPad2 to great effect as part of the Living Communities project based at Perth Museum and Art Gallery and with so many tablets out in the professional world there is huge scope now for corporate training.


Mobile devices are offering amazing creative opportunities. With the advent of the 69p ‘app’ accessibility to software is unprecedented.

While these apps are not considered industry standard in the way that Adobe Creative Suite might be, they are offering genuine, valuable insights into industry processes. In fact, the immediacy of touch screen technology coupled with intuitive software can be a superior experience to the desktop and mouse, identifying a new way of working for the near future.

There are of course already professionals in the field whose tool kit consists of a ‘well app-ed’ mobile device. Journalists, bloggers, vloggers, social media amplifiers – the early adopters of these tool-kits have been the winners in recent years.

Many of the learning opportunities that Playful Communications offer are designed around the iPad. As an Apple user of 20 years the iPad was a natural purchase.


We also find iOS apps to be very stable. As participants often download the apps we have taught them to use, we want to be confident that the applications we advocate are safe and fit for use.

So while iOS is our platform of choice Playful Communications are also open to, and experienced in, using other devices on alternative platforms (Windows, Android, etc). 

In most cases the applications we use have a counterpart or similarly available application that will do the same job. If you use other products and would like workshops or training in those areas then please contact us to discuss.

Who’s the One?

I’ve blogged previously about some work experience that I and three other MDes graduates took part in with TaylorHaig on their Dundee Total Place project. In that post you’ll find the video that I edited together focusing on part of our process as designers, on the streets of Dundee interviewing, capturing information from the source.

Here’s another cut, similar to the previous one but focusing now on some of the responses to the question we asked, “Who’s the One?”

The videos are a taste of how we can illustrate to stakeholders (who can’t always be with us while we’re out) the sense of reality that we feel when we engage with these young people. For obvious reasons we can’t (don’t want) to reveal specific names, faces or even voices. The video, audio and photography captured is always on that understanding and that encourages the openness that we need and have received.

For illustration purposes I’m always looking for ways of documenting this process in a way that captures the immediacy of the environment and the people we are speaking to without resorting to ‘scarey’ ‘TV News’ silhouettes and voice overs.

The subjects in the video were approached cold on the street, involvement is on their terms and responses are not forced or prepared. If they agree we then produce the camera and take notes. It’s important to us that they write the name of ‘the One’ themselves and capturing that moment, through video or photography, can produce personal and powerful moments. Infinitely more powerful than the scrawl of a designer.

So these videos are an attempt at finding a style that illustrates all of those things: reality, immediacy and security. I welcome your comments.