I’d rather not admit how many hours I’ve spent in After Effects, zooming into timelines and squinting my best to drop in keyframes–to mark when a graphic should pop in or a some special effect should start. But a new app, Nutshell, hides this laborious keyframing behind an action we already know: Taking a photo. And so it makes adding animations and text to video a cinch.
The app, which makes short videos you might compare to Vine, tells you to take three photos. You might take one of your dog, one of your wife, and one of your car. These three photos are a bit of a lie. Because in reality, Nutshell has been filming everything in between those three photos, too.
So why take photos at all? When you’re done shooting, Nutshell prompts you to an edit screen. This screen plays back the video, and it has three buttons beneath. These buttons are made from the photos you took earlier. Tap one, and you’re taken directly to that moment in the clip.
This moment is actually your keyframe–you know, that laborious-but-unavoidable video editing tool I was lamenting earlier. And with that keyframe already in place, Nutshell lets you add text or animations simply by dragging and dropping them onto the video itself.
Testing Nutshell for a few minutes, I found the software still a bit buggy. But its clever packaging of a somewhat advanced video technique is a UX homerun. Telling your average user to “drop in a keyframe” requires loads of background explanation. Asking them to “take a picture” works in a snap.