Turning inner space into outer space

May 2, 2014

Use Vhoto to get just the right picture from your video

If you’re at an event and you want to record it, what’s the best way? Photos? Or video?

I prefer to capture the moment with a perfectly timed photo. That’s easy if you’re hanging out and there isn’t much action. But what if, for example, you’re at a children’s birthday party with lots of running around and no one really paying attention to your photographical needs.

In situations like these, I have on occasion gone with video and taken a still shot from it later. Going through a video frame by frame, you’re bound to find something good. The problem with this method is that the quality isn’t all that great, and finding the right shot can be time consuming.

That’s why I was intrigued by a new iPhone app called Vhoto, which scans your video and produces a selection of photos to choose from. I woke up our cat Lucy to try it out. I figured a pet would make a good test subject because they generally do whatever they please.

As I shot the video with Vhoto, I did a lot of finger-snapping, prodding and whistling to get Lucy’s attention. Normally, I wouldn’t do this because it would ruin the video. After about 30 seconds, I turned Vhoto loose on finding some good shots.

Most of them showed Lucy with her eyes closed or head turned, but the app did manage to get one of her alert and looking at the camera. After choosing this picture, I was able to apply a filter, do some basic editing and share it on Twitter.

Of course, there is also the option of sharing it on Vhoto’s own service.

I’m quite happy with the quality of the photo but I wish it was bigger. To get a picture of Lucy for this post, I opened it in the Photos app and emailed it to myself. I wasn’t prompted with the usual options for size, and this is what I wound up with.

I’m wondering if there are limitations due to the fact that the picture was taken from video. Maintaining good quality in a video frame has always been a challenge, and it could be that Vhoto has not found a way of doing this with larger photos.

This quibble aside, I heartily recommend Vhoto as a solution for those situations where it’s tricky to get just the right shot.