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Hands on with Watch It Change

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Watch It Change from Anglebar Solutions offers a stop-motion-animation studio for your iPhone. With it, you can snap a series of images, one at a time, making small changes between each shot. This morning, I sat down with my iPhone and Watch It Change and used it to bring my Mac's mouse into "life".

As I slowly moved the mouse, I used the software to capture each shot. Although Anglebar sells a stand for the iPhone, I used a business card holder to keep my phone in a single position and that worked out fine. I was able to frame my shots and tap the onscreen buttons without jogging my phone's location or losing its steadiness.

Follow the jump for my overall feedback about this iPhone application.

My feelings about the program are mixed. While I like the idea and enjoyed the art involved in creating my project, I felt the application lacked polish. The interface was not well designed, and interaction is painful. It takes about 20 seconds for each shot, mostly due to the application using canned SDK routines rather than building a better interface on top.

Watch It Change relies on using the built in picture-taking framework. Instead of enhancing this limited system, it makes compromises. To shoot, you press the green on-screen camera key. You then wait. Eventually, you get to the reshoot/use photo screen. You then press "Use Photo" and...wait.

Because of SDK limitations, this screen also says "Move and Scale", features that make absolutely no sense in the context of a stop-motion-animation application. Wait some more and finally you can take your next shot. Instead of spending your time composing the shot, you spend your time waiting for the iPhone to catch up.

When shooting, the iPhone does not allow you to onion-skin the previous shot. The only way to view the last shot is to cancel -- returning to the last image but forcing you to re-start that twenty second cycle.

The on-screen elements are inconsistent, without an overall unified design. Some buttons are Apple standard, others home brew. The application gets the job done but it could certainly use a loving touch, both and in design and code.

To share your creations, you must create an account at watchitchange.com. Doing so is no more or less annoying than signing up at other sites. Once signed up, there was a 10 minute delay before I was allowed to log in. Then after uploading my very short animation, it took quite a long time for the site to process the material and turn it into a movie.

Several times during this period, I was kicked out of the site and had to log back in, about half of the time the site refused to recognize my password. (After writing this, the site owner contacted me to say that a MacWorld post about it was overloading the site at the time -- just wait until they get hit by the TUAWalanche.)

The final video was noticeably pixelated, didn't respect my original frame rate (it goes too fast) and provided no obvious way to embed videos into other sites. I eventually used Snapz Pro to capture the version seen here.

The application has, as of the time of writing, received nothing but 5 star reviews over at iTunes. I doubt they were all written by friends and family of the developers so there's clearly a demand for this kind of application. I suspect the app is better suited for a patient audience who won't be put off by the interface and time delays that I found so frustrating.

Watch It Change costs $6.99 and is available for camera-equipped iPhones only.

Gallery: Watch It Change | 6 Photos

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