The iTunes App Store is brimming with photo & video apps, and every now and then, we see a new entrant that brings something new to the table. Consequently, this is the genre of apps that we cover perhaps more than others, owing to the fact that either we find something new that’s catchy and flashy, or something popular goes on a limited-time sale, deserving the attention of our readers. Go2Share’s Pencil Sketch Video may not be revolutionary or unique, but it gets the job done well, and went free for a limited time. Essentially, this neat little app will let you shoot videos on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, in a pencil sketch layout, parting an artistic look to your otherwise-ordinary creations. What’s even better, is that the app is dead-easy to use. We’ll explore that further just past the break.
There are countless apps for iOS out there that will “sketch” your photos, whether snapped fresh from the camera or imported from Camera Roll, but the same doesn’t hold true for video. This gives Pencil Sketch Video somewhat of an edge over the competition, and perhaps the reason for its 4.5 star average rating in the App Store. The first launch of the app on your device splashes a half-sketched image of Angelina Jolie across your screen, giving an overview of what the app is capable of. Past the splash screen, you reach the viewfinder, which, by default, is in video mode.
The interface is plain and clean, with a big start button at the bottom center (to initiate recording, duh!), a photo/video toggle in bottom right, an options button in top left corner, followed by a toggle for back and front camera. The More Effects button at top right will take you to the company’s App Store page for another product, so you may want to steer clear of that for now. As evident from the toggles, Pencil Sketch Video supports both photo and video modes, and can utilize both the front and rear cameras (should your device have them).
Using the app is simple. Point to the desired object, and hit the green Start button. If you’re in video mode, recording will begin; for photos, a single image will be snapped. In recording mode, the Start button is replaced with a Finish one, which can (obviously) be used to indicate the end of your record session. There is no limit to the length of footage you can record. The viewfinder already shows the sketched version of the scene in front of you, so you’ll know exactly what output you’re getting. It’s noteworthy that the app does not support importing images from Photos, and you can only utilize it for fresh captures.
Tapping the Options button brings up the app’s 6-slider panel, which comprises Contrast, Exposure, Saturation, Red, Green and Blue values. In all fairness, the former three can be used to tweak the composition of your video/image, but the latter three, namely RGB, are pretty useless, since they rendered no effect on the output. It actually makes sense, too, since the sketches are black & white, and tweaking their RGB values should NOT have any impact, either.
Coming to the quality of the output, it’s pretty decent, although it would vary significantly with the device you’re using. For instance, on iPhone 4 or iPod touch 4G, you get 640×480 (VGA) videos and images, captured at 10fps. On iPhone 4S and iPad 2, the resolution remains the same, but frame rate jumps to 30fps. On the new iPad, resolution gets a boost as well, hitting HD video at 1280×720, 30fps. Of course, these results are with the rear camera. Below is a sample still that we took on an iPhone 4S.
Pencil Sketch Video isn’t the best of its kind when it comes to still photos, but the ability to capture artistically sketched videos with live previews, and that, too, with decent resolution and frame rate, makes it worthy of checking out. The app just went free from $0.99, so if you hurry, you may grab it without spending anything. It’s a universal app, optimized for both iPhone and iPad, and will require iOS 5.0 or later to work.