SPIE

Directr App Review: Keeping it Simple

Allright, so I'll state the obvious: video drives the web. In the time you took to read this, about a lifetime of cat juggling and Charlie biting people's fingers has been uploaded for your happy consumption. So it's no surprise that developers are scrambling to create a video app that has the juice of Instagram or Pinterest – a do it yourself cinema for the digital age. It's a big hairy audacious goal. 

Enter Directr, the iPhone app that is doing it's best to help you create 'Video that Matters'. It's actually quite slick: you download the app, choose your theme, and you are provided with a series of storyboards you use as guidelines to frame your shots and tell your story. Then it slaps on a title card, drops in the music, and voila – you've made moving pictures. Check out this one – which I made in less than 5 minutes after opening the app for the first time:

 

 

Is this going to win any awards? Not. In fact, if I send enough of these into my social stream, my friends will probably hire Jason Bourne to take a hit out on me. But it does speak to a real issue for content creators: how do you create video that is easy to get out there with a modicum of quality? This is the riddle of Occam's razor: simplifying things in order to make them more powerful. 

Directr's attempt succeeds in that regard – at least in part. You can do some cool stuff with it pretty quickly. And it's easy to use. And the business model, from their perspective, is potentially scalable as it enters the social realm, more people use it, and more personal behavior data is gathered – to be sold later to Facebook or the NSA in a few years. I like it. 

On top of that – there is also a business version you can pay for. Poke around the site – you may see some samples that interest you and maybe you'll be inspired. 

But let's not go too crazy: You aren't carrying Scorsese around in your hip pocket. Yes, you can get creative within the confines of Directr. Yes, some cool stuff is being produced with it.  But even then, it's still no match for filmmakers. It's a paint-by-numbers approach that won't suit bigger brands that need better story-telling. Easier, faster and cheaper can be useful, but rarely is it better. That rule still applies here. 

But for some  – it may work just fine. And anything that gets more people jazzed about film and video certainly deserves a look and a hat tip. Count me in – especially if it means more of this

Photo: On the set of SPIE, directed by Caleb Young.  Want to see our latest?  Visit www.handcrankfilms.com/spring2014