Kaleidoscope Craziness: Animated Videos Created by Android Apps

Over the last couple of weeks I have been preoccupied with making kaleidoscope videos, well trying to work out how to make a great kaleidoscope video while making a load of tests on the way.

Using Android Apps for Art

I use multiple apps on my 7″ Android tablet to make digital images. One I use frequently is Kaleidoscope Lime Pro (there is a free version as well). That has an animate option, with settings that you can alter the speed of the animation and there are 3 motion options – simple, wave, zig zag. All 3 have their merits, but I think my favourite is zig zag.

Capturing Video

In order to capture the animation from Lime Pro to a video format, I am using AZ Screen Recorder – No Root (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hecorat.screenrecorder.free&hl=en_GB)

Initially I just tried out setting it going to see what happened, getting to grips with how to start and stop it when I wanted. Then I tried a few of my images as the starting point to see what worked well. I already have a good feel for what will make a variety of interesting kaleidoscope images but sometimes there are only a few that I think are worth saving whereas others seem to have infinite pleasing orientations.

Once I got past the euphoria of actually managing to make a video, my inner critic kicked in trying to make improvements. The first thing I wasn’t happy with was occasional jumps, lack of smooth transitions. After a few experiments, I think there are two causes. One is a lag effect on my tablet of other apps running at the same time, so, before starting to record, I need to make sure as much as possible is switched off by running a performance boosting app. The other effect is the settings on the recording app.

Recording Settings – what is the optimum?

AZ has the following options:

  • Resolution: 1920×1080; 1728×1080; 1280×720; 1152×720; 854×480; 768×480; 640×360; 576×360; 428×240; 384×240 and Custom. In the custom option you can only choose numbers in 3 aspect ratios 16:9; 4:3; Device (My device has a 1280×800 display)
  • Frame rate (fps):60, 50, 48, 30, 25, 24
  • Bit rate options: 12, 8, 7.5, 5, 4, 2.5, 1.5, 1 [Auto]

YouTube Specification

YouTube recommend 16:9 aspect ratio to fit the player perfectly and list resolutions in their support pages (see: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/6375112?hl=en). Of the options available from the screen recorder, these two are best to use:

  • 1080p: 1920×1080
  • 720p: 1280×720

Determining what other settings to opt for is more difficult. I feel in general save at the highest settings that you can, on the basis that it is always possible to convert a file down to a lower setting, but not increase it up. So by that logic 60 or 50 fps frame rate and 12 bit rate. However, these settings are too high for Twitter videos (see below).

Instagram Video Test

This was the first video I made and tried uploading to Instagram. The process converted it to a square format (there is the option of keeping the original format too, but I do like the square option).

First video experiment NO SOUND. #kaleidoscope

A post shared by Karen Cropper (@dentonpotter) on

Instagram allows video up to 60 secs.

Twitter Video

This video was uploaded direct to Twitter

Twitter, at the time of writing, states (https://support.twitter.com/articles/20172128) that video posted directly on to the site must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Duration maximum 2 mins 20 seconds
  • File size maximum 512 MB
  • Dimensions between 32×32 and 1920×1200
  • Aspect ratio between 1:2.39 and 2.39:1
  • Maximum frame rate 40fps
  • Maximum bit rate: 25 Mbps

Facebook Video

I haven’t tried uploading video direct to facebook. I prefer to upload it elsewhere, such as YouTube or Twitter or Instagram, and then share the link. But just for completeness here are their guidelines:

  • Aspect ratio 16:9 or 1:1
  • Max length 120 minutes
  • Max size 4 GB
  • Title 25 characters

(Source: https://www.techwyse.com/blog/infographics/facebook-cheat-sheetsize-and-dimensions/)

Summary table

The specifications are summarised in a table form in this post “Social media cheat sheet specs” (http://ideas.dissolve.com/tips/social-media-cheat-sheet-for-video-specs). That table suggests this frame rates: 30fps for facebook and Instagram, 40fps for Twitter.

Postscript

Having now tried a few more experiments I have found an annoying thing is that when I select the 1920×1080 option it actually saves the video at 1920×1088 and that slight difference ends up putting a black border to the right and left to make it up to the 16:9 aspect ratio. I need to do more experiments to see if I can stop this happening.

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