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Briefly Transforms Images of Your Life Into an Ecstatic Blur

Briefly Transforms Images of Your Life Into an Ecstatic Blur

The best thing about Briefly is its utter simplicity. It does one thing really well, quickly, easily, with superb output. I learned that having many photos of a scene of action is really cool -- so 30 shots in a row of a bear swimming across a river and catching a salmon looks fantastic in Briefly. In a regular slideshow with a relatively fast 1-second transition? Boring. Briefly? Cool.

By Chris Maxcer MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
07/22/13 5:00 AM PT

Briefly by Matthias Gansrigler is available in the Mac App Store for US$7.99.

Briefly App

Before now, it never even occurred to me to try to show 500 photos in under a minute -- or thousands of photos in just a few minutes.

Briefly lets you do that. How? By quickly and easily converting gobs of photos into a "still motion video." And what's a still motion video? It's basically a slideshow without all the bells and whistles of transitions and Ken Burns movement.

Oh, and the per-photo slide duration is fast. Really fast. Sub-second fast.

Let's put it this way: I recently shot 75 photos from a trip to the beach. I dragged and dropped them into Briefly directly from iPhoto. Selected "Long Hot Summer" by Keith Urban as the soundtrack, left the size of the video output on Auto and hit the Create button. The app processed the photos and generated an .mp4 video file.

So I played it.

Photos flashed before my eyes as Keith Urban started warming up, and I saw water, sun, and sand -- and then boom, in 7 seconds it was over. I had just "seen" 75 photos in seven seconds.

The feeling was intensely ecstatic, all amped up anticipation, but then boom, it was over -- kind of like arriving to pick up your hot new date, giving her a quick hello hug, and then uh oh, the date is done, see you later alligator.

What Just Happened?

Turns out that the Matthias Gansrigler developer guy wasn't kidding: Briefly lets you show hundreds and hundreds of photos within a few minutes -- as well as share them with your friends and family through some of the usual social media suspects like Facebook, Vimeo, YouTube and Flickr.

You may or may not want to warn them about what they'll actually get.

In my second try, I took 425 photos of a trip I took to Alaska to fish for coho salmon among big brown bears. This time I just dragged the Event out of iPhoto and dumped it onto Briefly. The app accepted the event and showed me thumbnails of all the photos -- quickly, mind you, so I left the video output size to auto, left the same Keith Urban song in there, and hit create. About a minute later my video was processed and complete, an .mp4 file sitting in my Movies folder on my Mac.

I double-clicked it, which launched the file into Quicktime and started playing it at 1080p, and suddenly a week-long vacation adventure was over in 43 seconds.

Is my tone not right? Am I not sounding thrilled here?

Let's put it this way: I do not recommend that you take 330 honeymoon photos and drop them into Briefly.

My iPhoto Library holds 20,000 or so photos. I'm not sure how many Briefly can handle, but I do know that my MacBook Pro with Briefly installed rejected my effort to drag and drop an event with 2,400 photos onto Briefly. How about 1,161? No problem. Resulted in a Briefly movie of less than 2 minutes.

Briefly Is Two Feature Controls Away From Pure Awesomeness

The best thing about Briefly is its utter simplicity. It does one thing really well, quickly, easily, with superb output. You can choose to create small-sized videos on purpose or you can let Briefly decided how large a video you can handle based on the pixel size of your photos. Since most photos these days are quite large with many pixels, I expect that most every Brieflly video you create could be 1080p if you wanted it that size.

So, the 1,161 photos? The result was pretty cool, and I saw photos I haven't seen in a quite awhile, even a photo of an old pickup tire that had split and needed replaced. Yeah, it was in my iPhoto library. Who knew? But of course, there's family and friends, cupcakes and a ferry ride, that sort of thing, each shown in a tiny fraction of a second.

Which makes me wonder: What if you could set the timing of a Briefly video? What if, instead of many different shots per second, we could see it with several shots per second? Just a little slower. Would it still work? I think it would -- but a person could experiment. As it is right now, I would recommend making sure the grandparents are safely seated on the couch before showing them a year's worth of photos in 90 seconds.

The other feature would be a pause effect. As you're blasting through photos, sometimes you'll come to a series of photos all taken quickly -- say, a series of closeups on a person's face. In a real slow slideshow, all these photos are a liability -- horrendously boring. But in Briefly, the effect actually gives your conscious brain something to process so that you "see" the person. So, what if you could pause the super quick action every now and then, offering a stop moment on a particular photo, say a smiling kid within a birthday party series? Just for a half second or so.

Seems as if you could easily craft more intent and power into a Briefly video with this sort of control.

And you can -- sort of.

You just need to find the photo of the smiling kid and drag and drop it into the Briefly next to the original again and again until you have several right next to each other. Effectively, seeing the same photo in quick succession makes your mind believe it's just one for a split second. (So far, I haven't noticed any ill effects of all this mind trickery.)

What about making the per photo duration longer? You can artificially create a longer video by copying a set of photos into Briefly repeatedly. Effectively, you could create a looping action by dragging 30 videos into Briefly a dozen times. Not bad.

To make a video go more slowly, just drag and drop the photos in three or five times, and then drag the thumbnails around until they are in order. What!? Right, you can't do this manually with 500 photos. But you can right click on the thumbnails in Briefly and "Sort Photos by Date." This aligns all of the same photos with their identical siblings.

What I Learned From Briefly

In using Briefly, I learned that having many photos of a scene of action is really cool -- so 30 shots in a row of a bear swimming across a river and catching a salmon looks fantastic in Briefly. In a regular slideshow with a relatively fast 1-second transition? Boring. Briefly? Cool.

Lesson? Shoot more photos of scenes. If you have a DSL camera, just set it to the sport burst mode and take 10x more photos than you usually do. You'll like them in Briefly.

Great tool. Add it to your Mac -- and when the iOS version comes out -- developer says it will -- snag that, too.


MacNewsWorld columnist Chris Maxcer has been writing about the tech industry since the birth of the email newsletter, and he still remembers the clacking Mac keyboards from high school -- Apple's seed-planting strategy at work. While he enjoys elegant gear and sublime tech, there's something to be said for turning it all off -- or most of it -- to go outside. To catch him, take a "firstnamelastname" guess at WickedCoolBite.com.


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