Film Studio AR – App Review (iOS)

I came across Film Studio AR way back but only a few days ago I’ve decided to download it and invest a good time with it.

What is Film Studio AR?

Film Studio AR app screenshot
Showing the visual effects available in Film Studio AR app.

Film Studio AR is an augmented reality app for iOS that allow users to produce their own action movie scenes.

Users can do that by using the relatively advanced scene creator and timeline editor to carefully place, resize, adjust and modify the scene as they want.

They can play different pre-animated actors, add visual effects, add film filters to change the color palette of the scene, apply different lighting to actors, change the contrast, add a green or blue screen and more.

You can change the contrast, saturation, brightness and hue.
You can change the contrast, saturation, brightness, and hue.

After you’ve carefully created the scene, you can play it to render the effects in real time and capture a photo or record a video of the scene.

Of course, the best thing about having a film studio AR app is that you can actually become the cameraman and move around the scene to capture it in the best angle and capture video footage with real-world scenes mixed with the virtual content.

Let’s take a look at the app in action.

Video Timeline

Timeline editor, Film AR Studio app
The Timeline editor, Film AR Studio app

I’ve been testing out several video making augmented reality (AR) apps like Vixeo Movie Maker, Meing, LEGO AR Studio, Rampage: AR Unleashed, and others.

Many of those apps had limited functionality for an AR video-making app. They didn’t give me enough creative freedom. Even Vixeo, which is one of my favorite apps, lacks the timeline feature which allows you to get full control over the play of the scene. I will talk about some of those differences between Vixeo and this app in the next section.

Video timeline editor
The video timeline editor

A video timeline is a great tool that allows users to carefully time the animation so it is aligned with another animation that happens in parallel. I really liked this option, but I couldn’t ignore the fact that there is no precise control over the animations and no option to either modify or produce your own character animations.

For example, control the character walking on a surface or triggering different animations. All the animations are pre-defined and you have no control over them or their length.

The only thing you can do is just place them on the timeline and sync them with other animations running on a different layer. For example, in the video that I’ve captured, you can see that I timed the explosion animation with the person falling on the ground.

Where does it fall short?

In that aspect, I found Vixeo to be more fun and intuitive to use. I control the character’s movement and trigger the exact keyframe animation that I wanted to use.

Here is a footage that I captured using Vixeo Movie Maker a while back.

So although Vixeo lacked a timeline editor, cool visual effects, lighting, controls, green screen, and scene color filter adjustments it did have the following advantages:

  • An animation sequence controls (up to two animations with interval time controls and ability to play ALL sequences!)
  • Full integrated character sounds and voices
  • Ability to move the character with high-quality high-frame-rate animations
  • Option to make the character follow you!
  • Large selection of high-quality 3D virtual characters (I counted 31 as of May 15th). More added on a regular basis
  • Simple UI and Intuitive controls

I think that those above features helped deliver a more compelling user experience, they made the app more accessible to a wider audience, they helped me create more creative and entertaining videos and because of that, I enjoyed using Vixeo more than I did with Film Studio AR.

Very limited character variations and animations.
Film Studio AR features very limited character variations and pre-animations with no manual control of the characters or animation cues.

I do think that Vixeo developer can definitely improve his app by employing some of the features from Film Studio AR.

One of the main advantages of Film Studio AR is the ability to really transform a real-world scene into something that is more film-like, a scene like it was taken from an action movie.

No voices or Sounds (?!)

As of the time of writing, one of the main problems of Film Studio AR is the lack of sound. I have no idea why the developer didn’t add any type of sound or voices to the app. There are no sound effects for the explosions or anything else and no option to add your own.

This is actually a huge problem that killed it for me. I thought maybe it’s a bug I am not sure. Without any sound, that beautiful AR scene that I created felt totally flat and boring.

If you are the developer of this app and you are reading this review, I’ve reviewed the app on my iPad 9.7 (2017), running iOS 11.3.1.

AR Experience

I personally enjoy adding visual effects to real-world scenes in augmented reality (AR).  This is one of the reasons I enjoyed using this app. I could turn a quiet street into an explosive action scene.

I also really like the advanced color filter controls and ambient visual effects. However, even with more advanced scene control tools, you are still very limited in what you can do because of the limited amount of characters and the lack of an option to trigger different frame animations.

After like 30 minutes of using it I lost interest, although I still continue using it in order to deliver an in-depth review.

Conclusion

I love AR video apps and I always have at least two of them installed on my iPad and ready to use. Rampage: AR Unleashed, although niche and very limited, is one of my favorite ones (check this video out).

At the end of the day, it comes to whether I enjoy using the app and whether it helped me achieve the results I am looking for. With all the bells and whistles, I wasn’t able to do that. Having said that, the app does have some unique features that you won’t find on other AR movie maker iOS apps.

When I first read about Film Studio AR it looked very promising. I remember wanting to have an AR video maker app with a timeline editor.

However, after testing it thoroughly, it turned out very limited in functionality and content thus undermining the creative opportunities that such an app could have been delivered otherwise.

Users want to create and share unique creations. What’s the point in giving them such limited tools that will definitely result in most videos looking more or like the same? Even with a timeline editor, you are still very limited and what you can achieve with it.

Film Studio AR was launched on November 2, 2017. Seeing the version history, I just don’t see any intention of expanding the app with more features and content. The last update was on March 17, 2018, that added improved video recording. Same as on January 9, 2018, with improved video recording and iPhone X support.

Judging by that and its current content, I can’t recommend it. It was fun seeing some advanced video editing, color filtering, and stage adjustment controls in an AR app but even with those, the app still presents very limited creative benefits for its users.

I love video editing and have experience in Adobe Premiere, After Effects, and many other photos and video editing tools. I am not an expert in those, but I’ve spent a great deal of time using photography and video editing software. I think I can appreciate a good tool if I see one, but this app isn’t the one.

I think there is a better chance that we see some these app feature available in Vixeo, than the opposite, although Vixeo last update was on January 9, 2018. However, each update was more impactful by adding more features and content to the app.

By the way, I didn’t check the video output of this app, whether it adds any video cues or metadata that can help when doing other post-processing editing work.

A few more words if I may

Overall, I think there is a room for a new AR movie maker app that can combine all of these amazing features and more. Having said that, the more advanced the app, the less appeal it has for casual users. We can clearly see that the main focus on the market right now with those type of apps is trying to make them very accessible for all ages and focus on pre-defined animations and AR selfie overlays. This is probably of the reasons why they don’t get higher popularity and not enough crowd to encourage ongoing investment.

It’s also worth mentioning that many of those movie maker apps lack integrated social features which could have helped in helping them reached a wider audience aside from making them more entertaining. People want to easily and quickly share their amazing videos with others and have an accessible platform to share their creations. If you are planning to develop an AR video app, please, take that into consideration.

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You can download Film Studio AR from the App Store here.