Article in App of the Week category.

Focos Live Unlocks Portrait Videos on iPhone

Apple’s portrait mode in the default Camera app is an incredible achievement and constantly one of my favorite ways to capture a shot. It creates…

focos live appApple’s portrait mode in the default Camera app is an incredible achievement and constantly one of my favorite ways to capture a shot. It creates this beautifully sharp shot of your subject — including pets and food — while applying a soft bokeh blur to the foreground and background that is simply not possible with the tiny lens on a mobile device otherwise. It’s all done via software and saved for use by other applications. With those third-party apps, new features are unlocked, such as portrait mode video. In this case, I’m using Focos Live for this insane effect.

Focos Live is similar to the normal Focos app which is designed for photos. Focos Live does the same but for videos. It uses depth information captured between the multiple lenses or LiDAR. That depth data isolates the subject from people, to flowers, to food, to pets, to almost anything in between. It will then blur the foreground as well as the background. This is then editable after shooting and can drop all the way to an f/1.4. One feature that still blows me away is how you can change the part of the video that is in focus and what isn’t. It adjusts the depth map forward and back so you can choose, with extreme precision, which part of the depth map is sharp and which gets bokeh.

focos live

When shooting a portrait video, the record button shows a tiny preview of your video as a depth map. This is a great way to see that the app is in fact capturing depth data in real-time. If on a newer iPhone, it also confirms it is using LiDAR for more accurate depth data.

Any video you shoot in Focos Live, or videos you saved or captured in other apps, can be edited in the Focos Live app. The app somehow contains an incredibly complex video editor interface. You can add multiple layers, apply a wide variety of LUTs and filters, tweak adjustment levels on a per-clip basis, adjust the speed, throw a clip in reverse, add a freeze- frame, enable a more powerful stabilizer, mask, blur, and heck — you can even do a halfway decent chroma key green screen effect. Most of those tweaks can also be controlled via keyframes. Which still blows my mind. These aren’t features you typically see in mobile apps.

It does all of this while still being a lightweight app with an easy-to-understand interface. Its non-intimidating lets you get going and shooting and editing simple videos but quickly getting more advanced as you apply more effects in complex ways.

This app is designed specifically for iOS and takes advantage of Apple’s unique hardware and software capabilities to create a better, broader, and more capable app than what Apple already offers. It looks great and there’s no better way to create stunning videos on iPhone as well as iPad. As Apple continues to improve its hardware and software, Focos Live will only get better as well.

But enough about other people's apps.


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