vulture bytes

Vulture Bytes: Video Apps for Psychedelic Nostalgia

We’re light on gadgets and heavy on apps in this week’s sampling. What follows: a psychedelic videocam, a Broadway tracker, a nostalgic video generator, a lyrical Rock Band, and ringtones for grown-ups.

Meanwhile, we’re getting lonely at Come visit.

This is what would happen if Willy Wonka discovered Photoshop filters. Flare turns your iPhone 4’s video camera into a fantasia of technicolor by using something called High Dynamic Range imaging. Some of you have probably been playing with HDR on your iPhone 4’s still camera, which mucks around with the color until you wonder whether you docked your iPhone in acid overnight. But Apple’s built-in software only allows HDR on photos; Flare is the first app that lets you use it in video too. It’s the kind of look that distracts from the actual events happening on screen, which doesn’t make it ideal for most situations. But it’s perfect for the flashback/dream sequence you’ve been working on.PRICE: $2
Broadway’s brilliance is most evident in how it affects its wannabes. Take this season’s finale of Glee. Kurt Hummel and crew are pummeled at their national competition, and yet there’s Hummel back at home in Ohio, telling his boyfriend that it was all worth it because he got to sing on a Broadway stage. In an age of arena tours and YouTube lip dubs, Broadway is one of the few cultural institutions that still manufactures an aspirational relationship with its fans. Which is why we’re telling you about this ILoveNYTheater app. Even if you don’t live in New York and don’t plan to visit anytime soon, you’ll get a little taste of the Great White Way.
The makers of this app should really rename it Procrastinating With the Past. You tell the app what year you want to revisit, along with the category of video (movies, sports, music, etc.), and it’ll queue something up. If you plumb your formative years in sequence, you may disappear down the nostalgic rabbit hole. It’s also worth downloading just to see how different movie trailers were in the 80s. When will the over-dramatic, ham-handed voice-overs become chic again?PRICE: $1
There are more effective ways to market your app than featuring “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” in your demo video. But once you get past that bit of treacle you’ll find a game that’s basically a follow-the-bouncing-ball version of Rock Band. As the song plays you’ll have to tap and hold the lyrics as they’re sung. It’s karaoke without the singing, which makes it a great companion for that karaoke-anywhere app we mentioned last week. The app is free on Android, but unless you want to play with “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”-type ballads, you’ll have to shell out some money for the pop song packs. You can’t expect to touch Gaga’s lyrics for free. PRICE: Free, plus the song packs.
During simpler times in the late aughts, the question for teenagers was not “what phone do you have?” but “what ringtone do you have?” Vulture Bytes can’t forget a family scene in the early aughts involving a daughter and father arguing over whether she could buy one — just one, please please please — ringtone for 99 cents. (The father, long a gadget-phile, but a frugal one, refused on principle.) But because customized ringtones were such a juvenile hobby, they were spoiled for the rest of us. Now, when an iPhone rings in a Brooklyn coffee shop, the entire place looks up at once, dopamine surging in the hope that the call might be for them. So why not try a Cleartone, if only to reclaim ringtones for the post-pubescent. It sounds like a Philip Glass symphony tucked into your pocket — minimalist in all the right ways. One is just about free, and a pack of 50 will run you $10.PRICE: You can download one of four free tones for the cost of turning a tweet into an advertisement.
Vulture Bytes: Video Apps for Psychedelic Nostalgia