Flixel has been a quiet force in the cinemagram, or “living pictures”, market for some time now. Launched on a balmy Toronto day in late March, the month-old iPhone-only app has seen a huge uptick in both users and interaction.
The idea is simple: take a two-second moving scene — a short movie clip, in essence — and “paint” on movement in various parts of the images. Because the captures are limited to two seconds, there are only a few frames to manipulate, making it both more challenging and thrilling when you capture something special.
Some of my favourite are the most sedate — a man reading a book, or the flow of Coke into someone’s mouth — because each one focuses on a single moving thing, contrasting it with the stillness of the surrounding area. Other Flixels have a touch of Escher or Dali, but the great ones have one thing in common: they’re infinitely rewatchable. Like the most entertaining GIFs, the magic in a Flixel is its effortless simplicity.
The company has released version 1.1 in the App Store today, fixing many of the stability and speed bugs users have been dealing with since launch. They’ve also improved the overall usability of the app by adding helpful hints and tips to the start screen (as seen above).
The art of Flixeling is like any sport: easy to play, but difficult to master. If you have an iPhone, I implore you to try it. An Android app is in the works, though the developers won’t comment on its release date.
Download Flixel from the iPhone App Store.