To.Be Camera, an iPhone app by the Internet collage service To.Be, is taking video in a new direction. Specifically, in an acid rock direction. Don’t get me wrong: There’s nothing wrong with adding happy-go-lucky Instagram filters to your selfies. Or just uploading a normal picture of yourself or a mellow video of, you know, water bouncing against a pier.
But wouldn’t it be nice to upload The Future? To.Be, for now, is that future. You shoot a video inside the app, then tap any color and replace it with any number of wild video loops, from psychedelic flowers to gold sparkles and from nuclear bombs to eight-bit cheeseburgers. It looks a little like the Internet threw up all over the most precious moments of your life. (I mean that in the best possible way. It’s a collage.) Then you share these clips on Instagram, Facebook, or other social media sites.
To be fair, To.Be’s stylishly glitchy, pixelated augmented-reality future harkens back to the 1970s, the decade in which the chroma key was popularized. Chroma keys let you replace any color in an image with something else–you probably you know it as the blue or green screen that became synonymous with television weather reports. As chroma-key’s video technologies became more accessible, its productions quickly began to embody pop culture’s psychedelic aesthetics.
Most notable was Germany’s Beat Club broadcast, which starting in 1970, began peppering these chroma-key video effects into live musical performances. You can find loads of this stuff on YouTube. Beat Club was, admittedly, a bit before my time, but it’s fascinating to see the experimental aesthetic come full circle. Sure, the effects used in To.Be are fused with other imagery that Internet culture has popularized, but the style is fundamentally unchanged from that used in rock ‘n’ roll more than 40 years ago.
To.Be Camera is free to use. Additional video packs run a buck apiece.
[Hat tip: Prosthetic Knowledge]