Phil Leblanc and Mark Homza, founders of Flixel, have reason to smile. They’ve just received funding for their “living photos” cinemagraph app, and have released version 2.0 to the world. But there is more than just the sense of freedom borne from release day; they understand that the category they’re in, this milieu of silent moving images, some of which ebb and flow circuitously like the sea’s rising tide, could be the real next big thing.
We’ve spoken a lot about Flixel over the past few months; it first emerged in March as a very rough 1.0, quickly iterating to add much-requested features and bug fixes. The app’s premise is fairly simple, though its lasting (and occasionally haunting) effects are difficult to explain — you just have to see it in action. One captures a block of images — a short video, really — that you can manipulate with your finger to give life to the movement in those frames. The results can be sexy, strange or just plain cool.
Homza, who is based in Montreal but frequents Toronto to collaborate with the development team, says that version 2.0 is all about speed. Before today, the app’s Achille’s heal was the relatively slow speed at which Flixels rendered and loaded. Loading times have been improved six-fold, while application of filters (yes, there are filters!) has been beefed up significantly. Flixels are captured not as .gifs but as .mp4s, creating a much larger palette and smoother framerate than the popular sharing format.
Flixel recently received a round of VC funding, ensuring its longevity on the market but also minimizing its need for an immediate source of revenue. As a result, version 2.0 will no longer ask you to pay for certain premium in-app features like extra filters and the ability to save your Flixel without sharing; everything, including new features, is free.
These features include a new “shake meter,” which measures the small oscillations in your hand to ensure that it is steady enough for a clean, smooth shot. The key to taking a great Flixel is a calm hand. UI elements have been improved, and the entire social element to the app has been given an overhaul. You can like your friends’ Flixels by double-tapping on the film itself, and you can share it on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr with one tap.
Homza says the team is working on bringing Flixel to Android and iPad, though he wouldn’t comment on a release date.
If you own an iPhone and have yet to try a cinemagraph app, you owe it to yourself to try Flixel 2.0.