Animate up your travels with .gifs

Not much into shooting video to capture your trip abroad? Do Ken Burns slideshows bore you to tears? Lucky for you, animated .gifs (short for “graphic interchange format”) are all the rage among on the social media circuit, and can be a fun way to document (and share) some of your travel action. Instead of sending a plane Jane video of that insane Hula Dancer you saw in Waikiki, why not remind your friends and family that you are ahead of the curve by sharing it as a fun animation?

The app for the job is .Gif Shop. It lets you create and share looping animation goodness directly from your iPhone and it couldn’t be simpler. To start, you shoot a series of still images from within the app and then, after making a few critical decisions (like selecting the opacity as well as the resolution), your frames are ready to be stitched together into a fun animated package and shared on Tumblr, Twitter or via good old-fashioned email.

For a few animated examples, read on.

Perhaps you already have a series of photos that are just begging to be turned into .gifs? The Giffer! App is an after-the-fact animation factory that uses an easy interface to combine a series of still photos and animate them. This app allows you to adjust the frame delay and animation yo-yo, tweaks that could elevate your animated clips to superstar Viral status. Be aware that quicker animations mean larger files – something to consider when creating in your iDevice or sharing with friends.

.Gifs are a fun new way to share the magical times of your vacation, Which is appropriate since they are kind of like the moving photographs in the Harry Potter series. Only this time, you don’t need a degree from Hogwarts, just a few apps to turn your smartphone into a magic wand.

[flickr images via SML, animated gifs via Jen Pollack Bianco]

Lights, Camera, iPhone: iPhoneography for Travel Videos

Travel photos are great, but these days where viral video memes are the cultural norm a mere picture with the 900 pound Marlin you caught on vacation just doesn’t cut it anymore. When it’s all about the money shot, it’s time to shoot video. Thanks to cool new technology and iPhone apps, you can be on vacation and in the director’s chair at the same time.

There are apps that let you edit in the field (or stream) and slap it up on YouTube via your mobile device, all with the ease of a few finger swipes and a decent wifi connection. Just remember that your awesome iGadget has its limitations, particularly poor sound quality and a tendency for shakiness. So here’s a rundown on a few Apps that can help you turn your potentially boring travel movies into bite sized tasty morsels of travel porn.

High Tech, Lo-Fi: 8mm Vintage Camera

Hipsters know the best thing about cool new technology is how easy and fun it is to make things look old and crappy! 8mm is the video capture App that shows just how right they are. This app is excellent for recording video and adding that veneer of nostalgia with a selection of filters. It even lets you insert a well-timed film snag, a manufactured glitch that adds to the charm of the finished piece. There is even an 8mm HD for iPad version, should you have some “vintage” video from your old Flip or other camera that you want to spruce up. A bonus asset is that the 8mm App has one of the highest quality recorded sound capabilities out there (as good as it gets within iPhone limitations). If it’s windy or you find that you don’t need dialogue, just replace your original soundtrack with sound effects, or music from your iPod.Silent Film Director is an essential entry level app and not as old fashioned as it sounds. Its Pro mode has a user friendly interface and is perfect for assembling clips you’ve already shot and adding simple titles and a basic sound track. You can add or layer filters. Pimp your clip by altering the time line. Try speeding it up or slowing it down. You can also share/upload from within the App. Borrow Quentin Tarantino’s magic equation:

Cool imagery + hyperspeed+ ironic 70’s song = awesome

One key tip in making your iPhone videos: keep it short and sweet, 20 seconds or less. No one wants to watch your two-week vacation play out in real time. Avoid editing complex sequences (and alienating your travel buddies) with your phone. Think of iPhone travel films as video postcards, and aim for emotion and action over perfection.

Go ahead and pull out your iPhone and shoot. If you aren’t happy with what you got on the fly, you can always try to fix it in post. Rad apps like Cinema FXV can help you correct some exposure goofs and add cool special effects. That boring plane ride might be more interesting as a cartoon. This is the app that can make that happen.

Think that the jerky footage you shot is unusable? App it before you hit delete. Not to worry – that bumpy helicopter ride on an overcast day gets much more visually appealing once you slow it down and add the apps negative filter. You can put in titles and soundtrack together with user-friendly ReelDirector and you might discover you’re more talented than Michael Bay.

The downside to shooting on your lightweight iPhone is that it’s hard to keep it steady. If you’re a little shaky you may want to think about investing in a hands free mount . The flexible In Your Face Viewbase is a great option, or try the Joby Gorilla Mobile. These require a little more cash investment but are still a bargain compared to buying a serious video camera.

What if your vacation sucked? I don’t think there is an app for that. But you can learn from Indie Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and add the fun in post-production. You may not have his visual effects team, but with a few good apps out there to play with, you can turn that endless wait for room service into a fun ode to Mary Pickford in your hotel bathrobe.

iPhoneography: Make your iPhone travel pictures spectacular

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words and this is particularly true when it comes to your travel snapshots. Whether you’re back from a business trip or the family vacation from hell, you can regale your friends and family with stories of cool restaurants or the holiday romance you had… but everyone wants to see your pictures. With today’s technology, you can’t claim you didn’t have a camera with you (assuming you have a smart phone) when you stumbled across that supermodel in the Galapagos. So what if your photography skills are non-existent? There are apps for that!

If you’re reading this on Gadling, it’s likely that you (or someone traveling with you) are going to have an iDevice with them. Truly, the iPhone/iPod Touch has the potential to become the must-have travel gadget. Its camera is so stealth and so versatile that you no longer have an excuse for your photos to be anything less than awesome, even if your vacation is a total bust.

If you haven’t yet checked out the exploding world of iPhoneography, here are a few user-friendly apps that are worth investing in and playing with. Whether you work with one or all of them, it’s not an exaggeration to say that these apps are pretty much guaranteed to improve your travel photos.

Camera + $0.99
If you’re looking to improve your photo game in a single app, Camera+ is a great way to go. This is the app of choice for non-photographers or people who don’t care about the technical side of shooting, but who want to make their images look better. Not only is it user friendly, it’s intuitive and almost impossible to mess up — and it also gives you control over the strength of its filters and effects.

From an operational standpoint, the interface on Camera + makes sense and the lingo they use is understandable while the icons are self-explanatory. One can use Camera+ for both image capture and editing, even if they’ve been shot directly on your iPhone’s camera.

This app lets you shoot and be in the moment and fix any mistakes (exposure being the most common one) after the fact. You can download it now and even try to correct that shot you took long before you read this post. It’s easy also easy to share your creations on Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. As a warning: this app has a reputation for being addictive.
AutoStitch Panorama $1.99
AutoStitch Panorama enables your humble iPhone to capture the broadest scenic landscapes and then turn them into modern day postcards. Basically, the clever app lets you take a series of shots with your limited point and shoot lens and then stitches them together into a panorama. If that technology is not cool enough, it also lets you control how seamlessly you want them blended. Here’s a tip: sometimes an imperfect melding of pictures is the best way to go. You can achieve some really cool and artsy images with just a bit of experimentation.

toonPAINT $1.99
If you’ve ever fancied yourself the creative type but just never got around to submitting your portfolio to get into Art School, toonPAINT could be the resolution to all of that angst. It can turn any of the photos taken and/or stored in your iDevice into an illustrated image that you can then color-in as you please. Turn that airport shuttle into a comic or the beach sand into something no one has seen before.

Iris Photo Suite $1.99
Iris Photo Suite is definitely the most advanced of the bunch here, but the key is that it allows you access to over 70 photo effects and then gives you the ability to layer and blend them. This is what turns snapshots into really memorable images. Check out what can happen when you add Iris to the equation after using other apps.

Instagram Free!
A work of art is nothing without its audience. And if you’re itching to share your images with the world via any portal of social media, you should definitely have Instagram in your arsenal. You can take a picture in the app, or add some cool (but limited) filters to an existing photo, caption it and release it to the world via Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. Instagram also has its own feed and you can check out what the world wide community of Instagramers is up to. Use location hashtags and who knows? Your photos might be big in Japan, even if you’ve never been there.