How to get the best results with Ego Cam

We believe everyone should have access to stable, high-quality video. Video is one of the most effective ways to impact the world and create awareness with a small effort. It’s the most descriptive and personal way to share your life story or cause, effectively giving everyone an equal voice regardless of demographics. Currently, effective stabilization technology is only within the realm of access for those that have a few hundred dollars and tolerance to carry the additional equipment, which is just not reality for the majority of people.

Ego Cam is a brand new way to get super stable, cinematic-quality video with the tool you already have with you, your iPhone. Our innovative technology is the first of its kind: a software-only solution that can compete with hardware gimbals, and other expensive stabilization hardware. Using the most advanced face-tracking technology our app is able to locate a face and move it to the center of the frame where it stays smooth and stable at 60 FPS.

Here are a few tips to get the most out of the world’s first face-specific stabilization app:

Visible Face

Since the app uses face-tracking, there should be a person with a visible face in the video. If you’re recording directly from within the app and you accidentally block your face, the app will remind you that your face needs to be in the frame in order for the technology to work its magic. So long as a face is always visible, you can use the front-facing or back-facing camera footage that you already have on your phone and import it into the stabilizer. If there are multiple faces in the frame, Ego Cam uses some built-in intelligence to decide which face is the main face, and tracks that one.

Modes

Ego Cam features two modes: a normal mode and a beats mode. Normal mode is a stabilizer; this means Ego Cam will preserve the sequence and audio of your video, creating a super stable video for you. You can also decide to speed up or slow down your footage, depending on how creative you’re feeling.

Beats mode is a cinematic mode that enables anyone to produce a video with automatically added coordinated music with sequence changes and cuts. In the past, video editing has mostly been accessible to those with the professional video editing skills, but with as little as a single tap on Ego Cam, anyone can create a professional-looking video with music and cuts that perfectly match the beat. Usually a person that edits video would go through and hand-select the perfect sequence of video(s) to stitch together in a meaningful way, but Ego Cam can also do that part: Ego Cam has built-in intelligence to figure out which cuts and sequences go well together, creating a result that feels like it was handmade just for you.

You can select different tracks depending on your mood, and if the sequence doesn’t feel quite right, you can change it by re-tapping on the selected track or selecting a new track altogether.

Import function

This allows Ego Cam to be used as an auto-editing tool for existing videos. You can edit existing videos with just a couple of taps: just choose which mode you’d like to use for the imported video, tap the import button and select one or more videos. Since a face should be in the frame, our intelligent import picker will make it easy for you by only showing videos that are compatible with Ego Cam. You select the video(s) and Ego Cam gives you a buttery smooth version when using Normal mode, or a dramatic music video packed with cinematic cuts in Beats mode. If you don’t see a specific video available for import, it could mean that the video doesn’t show a visible face in all frames, so you can either re-record or edit the video so it fits the face criteria.

There’s no limit on how many videos you can choose for either mode, so you can create any number of interesting combinations.

Speed Control

Speed control can be used more frequently with Ego Cam compared to the shaky footage we usually have on our phone.

Stable subjects in video open up many doors, and one of those is speed control. When footage is stable it’s easier on the eye so we can work with that ease, and add new effects like speeding up a slow hike through the woods (something we usually see in a stable scenery time-lapses), or slow down some silly trampoline jumping to catch those extra details (something we usually see with stable GoPro footage).

How often do you see a sped up action selfie video like the below? Not very often, because it absolutely needs to be stable to change the speed in a visually pleasing way, and so far achieving that has always required hardware that most people just don’t have.

Centering

This coupled with the stabilization is what enables the above features. With centering there are a few things to keep in mind: since the main subject’s face will be moved to the center of the frame you’ll want to keep the face as close to the center of the frame as possible.

Here’s why, let’s say your face was on the left bottom corner of the frame, if we move your face to the center from the bottom left corner we’ll be shifting all the pixels in the frame towards the right and upwards. 

This would mean we have to cut out lots of pixels from the right side and top of the frame in order to move the face from the bottom left corner to the center. Once we move the pixels from the bottom left corner to the center, we won’t have any pixels to the left and below your face, since we would essentially have no pixels from the left side of the original frame we’d have to fill it in the blank with something, so we blur the last known pixels in order to dampen the jarring effect or blank pixels.

Though we want you to be aware of the above, we certainly don’t want you to feel like you have to constantly think about the blurring and centering, so we’ve created an interactive guide to do the reminding for you. Just follow the handy guide, knowing why it’s there, and you’ll have a great result.

 

 The Ego Cam App is available here for download in the App Store today.

200 years of “selfies” plus tips to improve your selfie game!

Did you know the first ever documented selfie was taken in the early 1800s? No joke! Because the process to take a photo was so slow, the photographer was able to get the shot before the camera went off to capture that infamous first-ever documented self-portrait. Of course, he didn’t call it a selfie, the term selfie came much later. For example, it wasn’t around yet in the 1970s when instant cameras allowed for a new type of mainstream self-expression in the form of utilizing a mirror for a self-portrait 🙂

Believe it or not but the first time the term “selfie” was documented on the internet was just 15 years ago, by a drunk Australian dude that took a picture of himself after he fell and busted his front teeth through his lip! Though self-taken group photos have been around since the 1990s (taken with disposable cameras rather than smartphones), the term selfie was never officially hashtagged until 2011, just 6 years ago (it’s not official until it’s hashtag official)! And it skyrocketed from there: by the end of 2012 selfie was one of the biggest buzzwords of the year, even declared the word of the year in 2013 according to Oxford Dictionary (and of Australian origin). Though the term selfie was not considered mainstream until a few years ago, the act of taking selfies has been popular since the 1970s and the first front-facing camera was made by Sony Ericsson in 2003 for the purpose of self-portraits and video calls (same year Skype launched).

Now, selfies are a part of everyone’s vocabulary and people all around the world are taking selfies. A recent study came out that said an average millennial is expected to take more than 25,000 selfies in their lifetime, and the average human life expectancy is 27,375 days, SO that means an average millennial takes (almost) a selfie every single day of their life. It’s not just millennials that are comfortable taking selfies, it’s people of all ages from the very young to the very experienced (?). 

 My 75-year-old grandmother, for example, 

sends me a selfie when she goes on a trip or has a special memory she wants to share with me. Of course, her selfie game is not quite to the point that she’d like, but it’s constantly improving and evolving. And like most (all?) people, she’s much more comfortable with her photo selfies than her video selfies.

 

So, now that we’re all comfortable with our photographic selfies, how can we improve our video selfie game?  Here are a few tips and tricks to help you out, in no particular order:

Control for noise

If you create a video where you will be including the original audio in the final result, try to make sure there aren’t barking dogs or roaring ambulances in the background. The most noticeably amateur videos are those that include audio that shouldn’t be present.

Lighting is key

Lighting is a bit more nuanced than audio. With lighting it’s not just good or bad: there is a spectrum of lighting quality. As a rule of thumb, always make sure you avoid shadows covering your face. An easy way to ensure your face is lit up is to face the light, and sunlight is always the safest bet. Of course if you’re getting a lot of direct sunlight especially at certain times of the day, you can create a glare on your face, which makes it hard to actually see your facial features and expressions, so you’ll want to find a happy medium where there’s no shadows or glare causing a distraction on your face. Since lighting can be a little tricky you’ll want to figure out the lighting situation before you start filming. Though remember the light conditions with the sun can change, so keep an eye on the lighting and adjust as needed.

Clean your lens

Super fast and simplest on the list, but for some reason, this is the step that most people forget – keep your lenses clean, this means your phone lens as well as any additional lenses you may use. A dirty lens can make your entire video look blurry or smudged.

Put your phone in airplane mode

It’s something we don’t like to do often, but it’s worth the few minutes wait for those messages and calls in order to have an uninterrupted, high-quality video. Receiving a text or call while shooting a video can degrade the audio quality, degrade the image quality, or create a distraction that interrupts the creative process. SO, your best bet is to put your phone in airplane mode before you start shooting.

Camera movements

I’m sure you’ve noticed those cinematic videos that utilize camera movements and different angles. With a little practice moving your arm steadily, you can also create interesting movements, but remember to minimize camera movements unless you are doing a panning shot. And don’t actually use the digital zoom feature while recording footage. Digital zoom is more like cropping the outside portion of the frame of the video, and effectively reduces the quality and resolution of your video.

If you want to get closer to a shot using either the front or back camera, manually move your arm or actually move closer to the subject of the shot, whichever you can do more steadily. When working with camera movements, remember less is more. Stabilization technology is really helpful in minimizing unwanted shake, while at the same time allowing for pro camera movements (we’ll go over stabilization tech in more detail a little later).

Angles

Don’t forget to utilize that same selfie photo knowledge and use those known favorite angles to your advantage. If a certain angle doesn’t work well for you in a selfie photo, it’s not likely to be a good choice for video either.

Video speed

Another awesome tool that opens up when you’re working with stable footage are features like slow motion and hyperspeed. The fact that the footage is stable and therefore pleasantly viewable enables use cases that would typically be too fast and wobbly, like an action shot of someone snowboarding, or too slow and bumpy like a beautiful but slow hike through the woods to be shared in a more interesting and creative way.

Resolution  & FPS

Remember that the back camera on most phones has a higher resolution capability than the front-facing camera so when possible, even with selfie videos, use the back-facing camera to capture that high-resolution shot. Frames per second (“FPS”) is something you can adjust for a more professional effect depending what type of footage you’re going for. Generally, when you’re capturing fast-paced movement you’ll want to capture at a higher FPS rate as to ensure that you capture all the movements, whereas slower movements can be captured at a slower frame rate because there are fewer movements per second when the movement is slow. Pay attention, sometimes increasing the FPS or resolution can cause a drop in the other.

Right Gear

The right gear does not mean the most expensive gear. In fact, with less than $20 on Amazon, you will be able to get all the basic gear you’ll need to start creating cinematic quality videos.

  • Lens

There are a few types of lenses you can attach to your smartphone, but the ones that can enhance selfie videos are the wide-angle and fisheye lenses. The wide lens is just that, a wider version of the shot. Whereas a fisheye is a super wide lens that allows for more to be squeezed into the frame with an added effect that makes the outer portions of the frame a bit distorted, which can be used for an interesting and cinematic addition. Regardless of which of the two options you choose, you’ll be able to get more of the background in the shot, allowing for more context and more effective storytelling.

  • Tripod / Selfie stick

Selfie sticks have had such a bad reputation since the very beginning, so much so that people forget to utilize them as the stabilization tool that they are. Please ignore that cringy feeling you get when you think about someone carrying around a selfie stick, and remember that the price tag for a highly rated selfie stick on Amazon is less than $10! Plus you don’t have to carry your selfie stick around, instead, use it as a tripod and capture super awesome, stable footage.

  • Gimbal stabilizer

Hardware stabilizers are a bit more expensive, I found only one highly rated gimbal on Amazon under $100 with most of the highly rated stabilizers being well over $100, making this a professional and not a basic tool. Hardware stabilizers are great for transient or moving footage, like those pro-looking panning shots, so if you have the funds this can be a great investment.

  • Ego Cam

The Ego Cam App is a great substitute or addition to a hardware stabilizer. Ego Cam provides a face-specific stabilization, which is a type of stabilization (perfect for selfie vids) that so far has only been included in hardware stabilizers over the $200 price range (not the ones mentioned above). Meaning that up until now these top-of-the-line gimbals have been the ONLY way to track and stabilize a main subject throughout the video. Now, with the Ego Cam app you can stabilize your selfie videos with this same professional precision but absolutely free. Ego Cam comes with the bonus feature that you don’t get with Gimbals in that you can stabilize an existing video, meaning you can use existing footage or whatever camera app you typically use in your flow and run that footage through the Ego Cam selfie stabilizer for instantly pro footage.

Whether you stabilize with Ego Cam in real-time or with the post-processing import function, in just 1-tap you can use the Ego Beats feature to automatically create cinematic quality music videos and instantly improve your selfie video game. Or you can speed up or slow down your super stable selfie footage, whatever intrigues your creative side 😉 The main thing to remember is to have fun with it, and that not everything is right or wrong, there’s huge room for applying your artistic side and ultimately that’s what a great selfie game is all about – creativity and self-expression!

For a chance to be featured on our website please download Ego Cam in the App Store and share videos you make by emailing feedback@ego.camera 🙂

N3rdabl3 covered Ego Cam and we totally agree with what they had to say, here’s why

Find the original text here and an excerpt with our thoughts below.

Ego Cam isn’t just another selfie app, this is an app that’ll completely shake-up the personal video game. How? Ego Cam intelligently tracking faces in real time to ensure that users become the focal point of their videos. This is the sort of stabilisation usually offered by expensive smartphone gimbals, but with Ego Cam you don’t need to spend a penny, it’s incredible.

The reason for this app isn’t just so that your beautiful face is in frame and in focus at all times, however, it’s because maintaining eye contact when communicating with friends, family, and even strangers, is one of the most important parts of that interaction. Eye contact and micro-expressions are just a few of the ways we understand each other and when videos have faces darting all over the place, this becomes pretty tricky to do.

N3rdabl3 says the type of stabilization is the sort offered by gimbals and other expensive equipment; this is because we offer a new type of stabilization that so far has only been included in top-of-the-line gimbals like the DJI Osmo. Gimbals have accomplished this specific type of stabilization by predominantly relying on hardware mechanisms, which pushes the cost up financially, as well as the additional burden of carrying extra hardware with you (basically) at all times in order to catch that perfect, in-the-moment, yet professional shot. This is why we believe our method of utilizing your existing phone, the piece of hardware you have with you at all times, coupled with the revolutionary software we developed is the ideal solution.

The way other companies like Google and Apple, who also use software (and hardware) solutions have implemented stabilization in the past is different because they offer a general stabilization solution; this means that Apple and Google stabilize the entire frame, without regard to *what* is in the frame. With their solutions, the main subject is easier to track because it’s more stable (the same amount of stabilization that is applied to the rest of the video) but the subject may still be moving unpredictably all over the screen. This is because Apple, Google, and others that use similar solutions, have not focused on specific objects in videos; they treat all elements the same. We think this misses an opportunity to bring the subject and viewer closer together.

Our approach is different in that we find and stabilize the face of the main subject immediately. We do this because we believe the subject should be the featured element of the video front and center. We stabilize the person in comparison to the less important elements of the video, and we center that person’s face right in the middle of the frame – this makes it more similar to real-world interactions, ultimately bringing distant people closer together, and we believe that’s important 🙂

If you’d like to try out Ego Cam for yourself, click here to download in the App Store or join the beta here!

The future of the selfie camera: Ego Cam App

Billions of people rely on their smartphones every single day as their primary and often only means of communicating with the outside world. Since the vast majority of our interactions with each other happen when we are not physically together, the smartphone is the enabler for most of the interactions we will have in our lifetimes.

The evolution of this type of distant communication started with the handwritten letter, which was both slow and limited to one-to-one communication. Next was voice over the telephone, which is immediate but lacks visual cues. Today we heavily rely on electronic forms of communication, which has the benefit of being both immediate and visual. We also gained the ability to communicate one to many, potentially one to billions like we see with viral videos. Who hasn’t seen “Gangnam Style”?

As the smartphone is today, when we communicate electronically there are some elements that get “lost in translation,” mostly due to the lack of eye contact and ability to see facial micro-expressions. One of the biggest reasons is because the cameras that all of us rely on for these highly desired interactions are lacking the required type of stabilization.

When we’re talking with someone face-to-face, we naturally look them in the eyes. We seem to be able to effortlessly lock eyes with them, without even having to think about it. As opposed to the screen, where one moment the face is on one side of the frame, and the next moment it has jumped all the way to the opposite side. A face that appears to be moving all over the place unpredictably makes it impossible to track the eyes, which is what your brain is constantly telling you to do. This isn’t only relevant to conversations. Even when someone doesn’t have a verbal message for us, we will still try to look them in their eyes. When you pass someone on the street you automatically make and maintain eye contact with them, often until their eyes are no longer in view. It’s a way to understand and predict each other, an element that connects us. Even babies as young as 1 month can detect and track faces, making eye contact when other people are near. This very innate behavior is often missing when we interact electronically.

We’ve seen big players like Google and Apple enhance the back camera on mobile, from increasing the resolution and frame rate to adding automatic focus and brightness adjustment, high dynamic range, electronic image stabilization (“EIS) and even optical image stabilization (“OIS”) of the entire frame. You can now smoothly capture cars driving over the Golden Gate Bridge during rush hour, but you still can’t capture yourself running wildly on the beach without making viewers sick. That’s because when there is a main object of interest very often the result remains nauseating to watch, since it may still appear to be moving all over the screen due to the lack of object-specific stabilization. Most front-facing cameras, unfortunately, do not have, EIS, OIS, or object-specific stabilization.

Imagine if your video was not only non-shaky, but the subject was always nicely composed at or near the center of the frame, almost regardless of the camera’s movements? All of this is what inspired us to create the world’s first face-specific stabilization camera on a smartphone, an app that elevates the front-facing camera, allowing for stable and intimate electronic interactions. Sure, we’ve been able to get by with the front-facing camera for selfie snaps (with the help of fun filters), and we manage to FaceTime with the ones near and dear to us. But how many times have you wanted to ask your kid nephew to just stay still on FaceTime so that you don’t get motion-sick?

Benefits

1. Bye-bye nausea

Face-stabilized videos, no matter how action-packed, do not make us sick.

2. Eye tracking and micro-expressions

The most critical aspect of our interaction is our message, and that is quickly lost when we’re unable to track the eyes or notice the ever-important micro-expressions on a person’s face. Since stabilizing on the face allows for more of these important details to be visible, we’re able to facilitate a larger connection between the viewer and the subject, ultimately bringing people closer together.

3. Facelapse / Selfielapse effect

Is this all just about more stable FaceTime and selfie videos? Absolutely not! Just like cars were not simply faster horses, this kind of technology also enables a whole lot more. We don’t only remove additional shakiness; by knowing the face will remain in the center we are able to further automate aspects of the video-making process that would normally only be done as part of professional video editing, ultimately empowering people to communicate more effectively. Regular videos of yourself filmed with a smartphone are already quite nauseating to watch, speed one up and the result is even worse. When was the last time you watched a sped up selfie video that wasn’t shot with a GoPro or DJI?

Back-camera timelapses on the other hand, are common and have been for some time. A hyperlapse is interesting because it shows the world a sped up version of what you see when you move through life, but what about a sped up version of what the world sees when you’re moving through life? When the face remains stable in the center of every frame it enables a whole new hyperlapse type of video, a face-lapse that was not possible before: a good-looking sped up video of yourself! We believe this is important because one of the most effective ways to show off your uniqueness is to actually show how the world looks different with you in it; super stable and centered, possibly at an increased speed to make it extra interesting.

4. Selfie to the beat

What about that friend on social media that always has the best short clips, with coordinated music that matches the cuts between scenes? We’d like to enable everyone to share their lives in this simple and digestible way, which allows for interesting and cohesive storytelling. By intelligently reassigning the order of the stable frames in a video to match the music, we can enable anyone to create short, dramatic videos in seconds, a format that was previously only attainable by professional cinematographers and vloggers. It doesn’t have to be just one video, we can take several videos with a bunch of different backgrounds, and automatically stitch them together, with awesome music and cuts to create a sort of selfie time-lapse music video. For example, you can create a video for each day of your vacation and combine them at the end of the trip for a cinematic recap video.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth even more, especially, a video where the subject’s eyes and micro-expressions are visible at all times. This is only the beginning, but the future selfie camera is here!