Easy video effects apps for iOS

This week's collection of iOS apps is all about adding effects to videos. The first two have social components that let you share your completed videos and follow other users. The last is more for adding effects.


There are a ton of image-editing apps that add effects to your images, but what about video?

Anyone who uses an iPhone 4 or 4S knows the smartphone takes great-looking video, but your options are limited with the Apple app when it comes to adding effects. Don't underestimate the value of adding effects, either: a good effect can turn a mundane subject into a great video.

This week's collection of iOS apps is all about adding effects to your videos. The first two have social components that let you share your completed videos and follow other users. The last is more specifically for adding effects, but is lacking when it comes to social components (and that may be exactly what you're after).

Socialcam Video Camera
Socialcam has only a limited number of effects, but they're unique and produce great results. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Socialcam Video Camera (Free) lets you make quick videos with effects and share your work within Socialcam, via e-mail, or on Facebook. The app features its own social sharing features (think Instagram) so you can post your videos to a feed and follow other users. As in Instagram, you'll be able to "like" other people's videos, browse popular users, and make comments on videos.

Socialcam Video Camera has an easy-to-understand interface and some tools for adding effects, but only to new videos. The interface consists mostly of the video viewing window, with buttons on top for viewing all videos, "Your videos," or videos you have tagged in the past. Across the bottom of the screen are buttons for viewing the Socialcam feed, viewing latest activity, recording a video, seeing your friends' latest video posts, and settings.

Adding effects to videos is extremely easy, but only to new videos. After hitting the round video button in the bottom center, you're given the option to shoot new video or upload from your iPhone camera library. Before you start recording, you can swipe through 10 different interesting and well-made effects, including Sepia and Noire. Once you decide on a look for your video, simply hit the button to start recording. You also have the option to use your iPhone's flash or switch to the front-facing camera. Unfortunately, if you choose an existing video from your library you have no option to add effects, but you can upload the videos to your Socialcam feed if you want to share them.

While Socialcam Video Camera doesn't offer as many effects as other apps in this category, the app is a great way to share and browse videos and add some pizzazz to your shared videos.

With Vlix you can add titles before and after your video. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Vlix (Free) lets you add effects to videos and follow other users like Socialcam does, but offers a few more options for effects. Start by shooting a video in the app, or choosing from your photo album (Vlix lets you add effects to videos already shot, unlike Socialcam). Once you have a video loaded up, you can swipe horizontally to browse available effects. Not only will you get effects like vintage, high contrast, and '70s style, but with Vlix you can make your video run in slow motion or even in reverse (which opens up a slew of fun backward-video possibilities).

Aside from added effects, Vlix offers many of the same features found in Socialcam, but it does have some useful differences. For example, you have the option to add a title that will show before the video starts and another text entry for after it ends. Across the bottom of the interface, you have buttons for viewing a feed of friends you follow, browsing featured videos, viewing your posted videos, and settings (which is really just a friend discovery area). You have a few options for finding other users: you can search your Facebook contacts for Vlix users, search by your iPhone contacts, or find people by username or e-mail address.

As Vlix has many of the same features as Socialcam (but with some added effects and options), it may come down to which interface you like better. Either way, Vlix is a solid video-effects offering with good social tools for if you want to share your videos with friends.

8mm Vintage Camera
Choose from several presets to get the 8mm style you want; all have that telltale grainy feel. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

The 8mm Vintage Camera app ($1.99) is an old favorite I have posted here before that lets you make old-timey videos with some cool feature variations and effects. Right when I launched this app I was reminded of popular camera app Hipstamatic, because 8mm Vintage Camera offers a vaguely similar feature set, but is instead used for making stylized videos.

Start your project by flicking the wheel in the bottom right of the screen to choose from five different video effects like the black-and-white '20s setting or the grainy '70s setting. Then, you can swipe the viewfinder in the upper right to choose from film effects like a shaky border (like in old films) or a burning effect that makes the outer edges of the film seem to melt as you shoot. Different lens and film combinations give you several options for how your video will turn out.

Unlike Hipstamatic, 8mm Vintage Camera lets you adjust all your settings on one main screen. In addition to the film and lens choices, you have the option to use the iPhone 4 flash for brighter scenes; there's a button that gives your film a frame jitter effect; and you can switch between the iPhone 4's front- and rear-facing cameras.

When you're finished, you can hit the My Reels button to browse through your shot videos, and touching a specific project gives you options for saving your video to your photo library, sending via e-mail, or uploading directly to YouTube or Facebook. 8mm Vintage Camera doesn't have integrated social options like the other apps in this collection, but offers more effects if that's what you're after.

Overall, 8mm Vintage Camera is one of the best apps I've found for making old-timey movies in the iTunes App Store, with just enough lens and film variations to give you plenty to experiment with. Anyone who likes old 8mm films (and is not looking specifically for the social component) should definitely check out this app.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.