Instagram’s “Superzoom” auto-records dramatic close-up videos



Instagram’s newest feature lets you make your own “Dramatic Chipmunk”-style video by shooting a stuttered zoom-in including cinematic sound effects with a single tap. Superzoom is coming to Instagram Stories on iOS and Android today, alongside an array of spooky Halloween stickers and augmented reality masks.

Superzoom joins Instagram’s Boomerang GIFs, Hyperlapse timelapses, and Layout collages amongst its tool kit of extra camera effects. As Instagram battles Snapchat for users, and both now have AR masks, each is looking for new effects that will inspire creativity and tip the balance as people choose between the competing apps. You can watch our hands on video below.

We tested Instagram’s Superzoom and found it easy to use and entertaining. You pick the front or rear facing camera, and the targeting reticle makes it simple to line up your shot. Instagram does the rest of the work with a three-stage zoom in with synced up bold orchestral sound effects.

The videos last three seconds but you can hold down the shutter button longer to extend them up to 15 seconds, lingering with a slow final zoom on your subject. It’s great for catching people candidly, or turning a selfie into something much more grandiose and hilarious. And Instagram confirms to me that special stabilization tech allows you to keep the frame steadier than you could do manually.

How did Instagram come up with Superzoom? “Our users”, product manager Jyoti Sood told us. “Time and time again, we have seen people using Instagram’s camera to zoom in on their friends to capture and create funny moments. We wanted to make it easier for them to do that in our camera while also offering a playful new touch with sound.”

Those users were probably taking inspiration from the classic dramatic chipmunk meme, but also Viners like Sarah Schauer who popularized the comedic effect a few years ago.

It’d be great if there were more sound-effects to choose from for Superzoom, and an Instagram spokesperson tells us “We would love to explore more options for music and sound, but we don’t have any concrete plans to share right now.”

What about Instagram allowing licensed music soundtracks or a sound board for adding effects to your videos? Sood says “We’re excited about the opportunity to add more sound and music options to Instagram’s camera so users can share even richer experiences with their friends. While we have no plans to share right now, we’ll be listening to our community for feedback on Superzoom to learn and improve”

If Instagram can used the size, money, and engineering resources to develop new features faster than Snapchat, it could escape from being pigeonholed as a copy cat. That could let it grow even faster, score more ad views, and regain “cool” amongst teens.



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