'Takes' App Smashes Photos, Video And Music With Easy, Innovative Interface

A new iOS app launched Thursday touting itself as the "new photography." Takes is a photo app in the sense that you use it to take photos — but it's a video app, too. Instead of snapshotting one moment in time, founder Amit Man said he wanted to allow users to tell a story, so even as you take a photo, what's recorded is a few seconds of video.

Once you finish snapping, you can choose from a selection of thumbnails, and Takes will automatically compile the associated clips into a video, set to either music picked from a selection or the original audio. Man recommended music to act as a "glue" for the entire segment — even with the same video, music can change the tone entirely. Several video filter options are available, and users can adjust the order of clips. The result is neither photography nor film but a montage of snapshots — or 'takes'.

The app is available in Apple's store now, and the site is live.

Even the music is custom tailored. Man sees the platform as a way for independent artists to get the word out about their work. Instead of just hearing songs, he suggested, users will associate artists and their music to a certain meaningful memory. "We construct the song in realtime," he said of a system whereby parts of the song, beginning, middle and end, are melded together to provide a complete story arc. In a 20-second video, he provided as an example, "you're going to get the meat of the song in those 20 seconds."

We had a chance to try the app on Monday, and were struck by its speed and intuitive interface. It really does feel more like snapping a series of photos than recording video, and the resulting Take is sleek, easily customizable and candid. Transitions are smooth — it's a bit jarring if you're recording the same thing from the same angle repeatedly (avoid jump shots!), but scene switches are seamless.

"What you want from a camera is to catch your experience and share it," Man said, "and photos are limited in that way. Videos, too — you need to plan. Just holding a camera for five minutes is really hard."

Man said that he first came to the idea after seeing a Harry Potter movie, in which pictures in newspapers and paintings come to life. Its first name was 'Flashback,' but the URL would have cost $150,000, so the team brainstormed and he came up with Takes instead after browsing film industry terms. Man said it wasn't cheap — but it wasn't 150 grand, either. He also said that the startup is closing its Series A round, and that the company has two patents pending on its tech. Takes has been in the works for about a year now. "My philosophy is that you need really great ideas, but you also need to test them," Man said.

"We're living in a very cool time. This would not be possible ten years — no, even three years ago," he said. Not just the startup boom, but graphics processors, CPUs and high-definition cameras in handheld devices powerful enough to take and compile video in this fashion emerged fairly recently. It is only for iPhone at launch, but Man says the team plans to bring the app to Android as well. "No promise," he said, "but we are working fast. We want to conquer the market."

Finally, we asked if he had any advice for Takes users.

"Take photos that you care about — take photos that you want and want to keep and share," Man said. He suggested people use the app as more of a photography tool than a video tool. Instead of recording a long segment of an event, he said, snap photos from the beginning, middle and end to tell a cohesive story.

"Don't see it as a video or photo," Man advises, "Think of it as a 'Take'."

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