Let’s start it like this: Vixeo – AR Movie Maker is by far the most entertaining augmented reality app I’ve used to date. I think that the concept perfectly fits the augmented reality medium. When I first saw the title I thought that it’s just going to be yet another half-baked app. but hell no, this AR movie maker app rocks!
What is Vixeo App and How You Use it?
Let’s first explain what is exactly Vixeo – AR Movie Maker app? Well, like its name suggests, you can create movies in augmented reality with animated virtual characters. The best part in shooting an AR movie is that you can decide the settings, where the movie is recorded. You can shoot it in your living room (what I did), in the backyard, in the office, at the beach or any other indoor or outdoor environment that you see fit.
Vixeo uses ARKit technology, which means that it’s only compatible with ARKit-enabled devices that come with AR9, A10 or A11 chips or newer. This included the iPhone 6s and 6S Plus, iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, iPhone SE, iPad Pr (9.7, 10.5, 12.9), iPad (2017), iPhone 8 and 8 Plus and iPhone X.
Users can use different 3D virtual characters in their movies and even spawn several of them at the same time. You can move rotate and resize them, use pre-defined animations with a single click and even make a virtual character follow you. By the way, the amount of pre-defined animations vary between each character and the other. Some characters come with even 10 animations, which is really generous and impressive
Each character is controlled individually. You tape the character on the screen and assign an action to it. The UI makes it very easy to apply changes to the characters. It felt like second nature, I didn’t even need to think about what I’m doing. You tap the characters to select it, use a swipe gesture to move it around or use a pinch gesture to rotate it—super easy!
Once a character is selected you have several options which you can use in your movies like using the joystick pad to animate it and make it moves around the scene, select an animation and click to animate the character, delete it by clicking the ‘Delete’ button, make the character follow you by toggling the ‘Follow Me’ button or tap on another character to get it out of focus and adjust another character.
Another cool thing is that each character comes with its own pre-defined movement animation and unique voices. For example, I filmed a short clip using the zombie cop and while I moved it he made a really creepy jarring roar voice.
This is a very impressive list of features. This gives users the ability to create some really creative and interesting movies by adding interactions that make the virtual look like it’s interacting with real objects from the real world.
Another cool thing that didn’t go unnoticed was the collision detection. When you move the character around, if it bumps against another character, it will push it. This is a really nice feature because it can lead to a more authentic looking scene.
You can also enlarge the characters to an enormous size. I enlarged the dinosaur to like I think 5 meters height. I didn’t measure it, but it was huge. This means that you can create some amazing scene when shooting in an open outdoor environment.
The AR experience was one of the most fluid that I had experienced to date. I’ve been using Version 2.0 of the app by the way.
Nine is the maximum amount of characters you can place in the scene, at least in the version of the app that I was reviewing; this might change in the future.
I’ve noticed no lags or significant frame drops when the characters we static. I saw some frame drop in one of the flashy effects, but this is it (I’m using the iPad 2017 for this review).
Speaking of effects, the visual effects on some of the characters look amazing. The characters are very detailed and the shadows look really nice. I really enjoyed the app by just looking at the characters through the iPad screen even before I start manipulating the scene and recording movies.
If the app loses focus and you get back to it, it will still keep the characters in the same place, but they might be floaty and maybe appear in a slightly different place because the app lost the surface region’s data and it will need to re-scan it, but this time it will do it in the background.
When you start Vixeo AR Movie Maker app, the app will ask you to scan the area so it can locate surfaces to be able to place the characters on them. Scanning time was very fast. For me, it usually finished a scan in just a couple of seconds—great!
By the way, another cool thing that I’ve noticed is that if the scan takes longer than usual (I just tested it in a dark room), it will still allow you to place characters but will do the scanning in the background and once it gets the surface information it will reallocate the characters so they now stick to the floor—this is usability in its finest!
Photo & Video Clip Recording Modes
Vixeo is an AR Movie Maker app, and it wouldn’t be that if there wasn’t an option to actually record your scene. Vixeo gives you two options to save your scene: the first one is a Photo mode and the second one is a Video clip recording mode.
Here is a video that I made. I didn’t use the video mode, but you can see the controls and how I use the app to make it. My next clips will look much better and without the user interface. Still worth watching!
When you click the camera icon, the app will take a photo of the scene but without all the UI elements.
The video clip is slightly more complicated. Vixeo isn’t a frame-by-frame animation app. This means that you will need to record your movies in real-time after pressing the record button. This is why you have all those predefined animations, the “Follow me” option and the movement joystick.
The way you create a footage is you click the Video button first, and then you have like approximately 30 seconds (I didn’t measure the exact time) to animate the character in the scene. Everything you do at that time will be recorded. The video mode also records the scene with the sound from the mic.
Things that I would have liked to see in future updates
I didn’t like having such a limited video recording time. I was actually using the iOS 11 screen recording feature because it was more convenient and I can record a long scene and after use, iMovie to cut and arrange the scenes to my liking. The problem with this approach is that I get to see the UI on the screen so it’s really far from being a good solution. The problem is obviously with the app because it poses that limitation. Vixeo is free but I really don’t mind paying for this feature, but the developer should allow us to record a longer video.
Another feature that is missing is the option to add your own sounds. This is, of course, can be done in movie editing apps. The whole idea for this app is that people can easily create cool scenes and share them on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, etc. This means that this option for adding sounds should be included as part of the app. I have no doubt that most user just won’t go out of the app, edit it in a video editing software and do all that just to add sounds to it.
Also, I find that moving the character using the joystick and tapping on the animation buttons is very inconvenient. Maybe it’s more convenient ton the iPhone but it is just really inconvenient to do on the iPad.
I also want to have the option to mute the mic so the video recording mode won’t catch ambient noise or my voice. Sometimes I want to direct the scene and I can not do it if the movie also captures my voice. I didn’t see any options to do it.
I also want to be able for the app to make it easier to animate two characters simultaneously. The best thing is to have a timeline with keyframes and pre-animate the scene and then export it, but this is probably for the professional version 🙂
Maybe the developer can add “reactions”, so the character will react based on the animation that was made towards it; Just an idea.
The app also lacks a settings menu. The only thing you have there is feedback an rate button, nothing more.
I also would have liked the option for the UI to change when I hold my device horizontally. Right now it stays vertically no matter which orientation the device is.
Oh, by the way, you know you can also make Lionel Messi part of your clip?, Seriously, you can!
Vixeo AR Movie Maker is the best ARKit app that I have tried to date. One of the things that I love to do in life is to create. I love to come up with my own ideas, and in this case, make my own movies. When I come across an app like that, my mind starts thinking of really cool ideas that I can create with it.
After going over its features, I start making my first scene. I recorded it using the iOS 11 screen recording, but that’s OK because you can see how it was done. I used the cop zombie character and filmed it running after my cat. This is just an idea what came into my head and it took me only a few minutes to create. I just can’t wait to spend more time with this app tomorrow.
The app is very intuitive, but I can only wish that there were more advanced functions to fine-tune the scene for more accurate, creative and authentic results-I don’t like my creativity being limited by the app. I know it’s not a professional movie editing app, but it certainly can be. Maybe the developer can release two version one for casual recording for free, and another professional paid version. I would gladly pay for the pro version.
The fundamentals are there, no doubt about it. Vixeo AR Movie Maker even without all those extra things that I mentioned is an amazing ARKit app.
I’ve seen the version history and the developer takes this project very seriously. Since version 1.4 he released a new version like almost every week, adding more content and optimizing the experience.
This app has a HUGE potential to be even much more than what it is. I will definitely continue to monitor this app for more cool features.
This is a must-have ARKit app that every ARKit-enabled device iPad or iPhone owner should try out, I just can’t recommend it enough. Can’t wait for people are going to create with it—Download it!