Since the release of the iPhone 5s in fall 2013, we’ve noticed the proliferation of advanced video effects on Instagram. Power-users are employing the baked-in slo-mo feature on the new phone's iSight, as well as first- and third-party post-production apps—such as iMovie, Video FX live, InstaCollage, Camstar, Iyan 3D, ArtStudio Lite, and GiantSquare, on iOS and Android devices—to create an entirely new species of image on the popular social network.
To no small extent, it was Instagram's still image filters that drew its users in the first place. Speaking at a Rhizome event in October 2012, former Flickr developer Aaron Straup Cope remarked of those odd shadings known as X-Pro II, Earlybird, Lomo-fi, Nashville, and so on: "All it took were those dumb filters for people to suddenly feel like a space had re-opened up and there was room to maneuver." On the one hand, that potential was fairly circumscribed: those images were facsimiles of a retro-Polaroid lifestyle meant to imbue affect (sensitivity, creativity, and high net-worth individuality). On the other, so what if that's what the app wanted to evince? We, as individuals and off- and online friends, have developed sophisticated strategies for inhabiting and reinventing the limited cultural structures offered to us by giant corporations—and, as importantly, had fun with it, capturing lived (if performed) life, really elaborate brunches, and some very reflective artwork. Across both interpretations, however, Instagram-sanctioned defaults administered the majority of activity. And these defaults, though enabled by complex algorithms, were largely limited to a repertoire of long-established photographic aesthetics.
These new videos change that. Instagram-endorsed filters are no longer the central tool; instead, unofficial apps assert blingee flamboyance and exuberance. (Instagram introduced video sharing in June 2013; the third-party apps have trickled out since, seemingly cresting with the 5s. Third-party photo-editing apps, such media-professional favorite VSCO, have a long history, but their aesthetic tends to works in tandem with the mother-app's default position.) It's a happily jarring experience to open the sophisticated, flatly-rendered Instagram and encounter slowed grunting and cheesy graphics: it's dumber, much less nostalgia-inducing, and significantly more fun.
Below, we've collected a few favorites.
As excerpted above, one of Nick DeMarco's epics—'grams that caught our attention because they self-consciously manifest a lifestyle that seems somehow engrained in this highly-controlled app and phone (even though the latter won't output slo-mo natively for the former, entailing an annoying uploading process):