By John P. Mello Jr.
Jan 29, 2020 4:00 AM PT
A new iPhone app allows you to capture two high-quality video streams simultaneously from any of the mobile device’s cameras.
Called “DoubleTake,” the free software is produced by FiLMiC, based in Seattle, which also makes a pro style video capture and editing app for the iPhone.
With DoubleTake, you can shoot two 1080p video streams at the same time, in either landscape or portrait mode, using any of the cameras in an iPhone 11 Pro Max, 11 Pro, 11, Xs Max, Xs or Xr.
To make choosing a camera easier, the app contains a camera picker view. It shows what can be seen in all the device cameras — four, if an iPhone 11 Pro; three, if another model. Pick two, and you’re good to go.
“It’s a less costly option for people because they don’t have to use multiple cameras,” said Eleftheria Kouri, research analyst at ABI Research, a technology advisory company based in Oyster Bay, New York.
“They have one device that can capture a scene with multiple cameras,” she told TechNewsWorld. “It means less effort, less time, and more flexibility.”
Composite or Discrete Video
When two actors interact in a scene in a movie, one camera may be focused on one actor, while another captures the second actor’s reactions. With DoubleTake, an iPhone can be placed between the actors and their acting captured on the front and rear cameras of the mobile.
You also can do things like shoot a wide shot of a scene at the same time you’re shooting a closeup of something in it.
The app supports a Picture-In-Picture window, so what’s happening in one camera can take up most of the screen, while what’s happening in the second camera appears in the PIP. The PIP can be moved around the screen or removed entirely, although it will continue to record after it’s removed.
Videos can be recorded as discrete files or as a composite, with the main shot and PIP appearing as a standalone video.
The composite feature is also available in split-screen mode, which can be used to create a video of two people talking in side-by-side windows — hopefully not at the same time.
The app also lets you perform changes in focus and exposure on the fly with its camera switcher.
“This app is revolutionary in the sense that it’s incredibly easy to use,” said Mark N. Vena, senior analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, a technology analyst and advisory firm based in Austin, Texas.
“While multi-camera video capture has been around for years, it has always required multiple discrete cameras and complicated integration with often external hardware,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“The DoubleTake app completely eliminates that complexity, and a novice can use it in minutes — as long as you have one of the newest iPhone models that have multiple cameras,” Vena said.
“This could indeed be a killer app that could provide more fuel to Apple’s high-end phone sales,” he added. “The marketing team at Apple is probably running wild with creative ideas for TV commercials to promote this new video capability.”
One of the biggest difficulties with working with two camera streams is the quality, explained FiLMiC COO Kevin Buonagurio.
“If you look at the market, we’re not the first to support this API. There’s a bunch of apps out there that have a multi-cam capability, but they’re for shooting basic shoot-and-share stuff,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“That’s because they’re using the plain vanilla Apple API. What we’ve been doing the last few months is working to get the quality of the video streams up to something that even our pro-level user base would expect,” Buonagurio continued.
“So we went beyond the recommended bit rate for the API of 12 megabits per second to 32 megabits per second. It took an awful lot of finessing within our code to make that work, but that’s what’s in DoubleTake,” he said.
“It was the hardest feature to implement, and you don’t actually notice it when you’re using the app. There’s no button for it, but it’s there working behind the scenes, giving you that FiLMiC quality at 1080p, 32 megabits per second,” Buonagurio explained.
So much time was spent on the video quality of the streams, the clock ran out on other features planned to enhance the iPhone’s multi-cam capabilities, he said.
“We’re going to bring those to FiLMiC Pro in its version 7 later this spring,” Buonagurio said, “but because we had reached a good tie-off point, and we wanted to get this out to as many people as possible so they could start getting used to a multi-cam workflow, we decided to put this in a free standalone app as DoubleTake.”
Copycats in the Wings?
While DoubleTake probably will not affect the professional market in a big way, it could have a dramatic impact on the amateur scene.
“It will have a very significant impact on video influencers who generate content for YouTube and other video library services,” Moor Insights’ Vena said.
“It will also take video selfies to a whole new level since you can capture two different perspectives at the same time,” he noted.
“It can kickstart creativity,” added Buonagurio. “Rather than going into the app knowing what you’re going to do, you can open up the app, look at what all the cameras in your phone are seeing, and get a better idea of what you want to capture.”
Nevertheless, a lot of imaging on smartphones happens through default apps. Someone who already is in Instagram or WhatsApp will tend to shoot video and images there, too.
“It’s more convenient, and it does the job for most consumers,” said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, a consumer technology advisory firm in New York City.
“This could be an interesting option for video, but it’s still a high-end tool. Even if you’re capturing video, you’ll still need to do some editing to construct the final product,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“If it becomes popular, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Apple build it into the camera app, which would expose it to far more of their users,” Rubin added.
Apple may not be the only one to crib the idea.
“I think in the future, Instagram will use something similar to allow users to capture videos with multiple cameras in real time,” predicted ABI’s Kouri, “in order to create more realistic and engaging content.”