Distort Reality with Cyberdelic Video App ‘Hyperspektiv’
The Glitch Mob’s Justin Boreta teamed up with programmer Allan Lavell and creative director Dean Grenier to create a trippy, interactive video filter app.
Courtesy of Phantom Force
There are apps that apply trippy effects to images, like Glitché, but when it comes video filter apps, the pickings are slim. There really aren't any great apps that bend, warp, and otherwise turn videos inside out. Enter Hyperspektiv, an iOS app created by The Glitch Mob's Justin Boreta, DJ and music producer Dean Grenier, and programmer Allan Lavell. Billed as a "reality distortion" app, Hyperspektiv gives users different video filter options, and a real-time, touch-based x-y graph method of warping the video. The effects range from 60s-era psychedelic imagery, to visuals that are influenced by cyberpunk, magic mushroom trips, kaleidoscopes, and glitch.
This isn't Boreta's first foray into app development, nor his first time working with Grenier, an art director and occasional creative director for The Glitch Mob. After teaming up with some people to make an app called Mirrorgram (now SparkMode), which dealt with symmetry in still images, Boreta met a programmer and artist named Allan Lavell. The two knew they wanted to make something in the near future, but they weren't sure what that would be. Around the same time, Boreta and Grenier were talking about creating a video symmetry app. After taking the idea to Lavell, the programmer conceived of a much bigger set of video editing effects, which evolved into the idea for Hyperspektiv.
Lavell, working in XCode, built both the Hyperspektiv app itself and then software that allows the three to create filters, which they call "God Mode." For the filters, the three used GPUImage, an open-source iOS library that allows users to apply shaders (filters and other effects) to images, live camera video, and movies. Lavell created a framework that allowed the trio to stack these shaders to create the app's distinctively warped effects.
In the early stages of building Hyperspektiv, the three created 70 distinct filters. Some of these shaders were made by the Toronto-based game designer and net artist Cale Bradbury, a.k.a., Netgrind, who Grenier calls the "Kobe Bryant of the shader world." Boreta, Grenier and Lavella ultimately whittled the number of filters down to 25. Each of these are stacks of shaders ranging from two to ten in number, with 60 to 70 shaders running in the app behind the scenes. All of the distorted video can be recorded in real time and saved or shared on social media. The team also just introduced a new feature that allows users to play entire VJ sets with the app.
"It felt a lot like writing a song or writing an album," Grenier says. "In songwriting, you sit down with a bunch of instruments, samples, or sounds. With Hyperspektiv, we sat down and sculpted these ideas together out of this technology. Allan came along with all of these technical ideas we had never even envisioned, and through collaborating, the three of us put it together, and it really feels like an album."
Boreta says that unlike so many Silicon Valley startups, they did not create Hyperspektiv to solve anyone's problems. And they didn't build to sell. Yes, it's a tool, but they're more interested in what they're trying to say visually with the app, and how they want users to feel when using it.
"Making [something] really inaccessible, avant-garde, and really out there is something I think would have been easier to do since Dean and I both listened to all sorts of crazy ambient music all day when making this," Boreta says. "But we didn't want Hyperspektiv to be this avant-garde noise app. It's actually much harder to make something that can still produce profound effects but is also something that people can use, so that you can hand it to your mom or a little kid and see how they see the world through it."
Boreta and Grenier also worked to distinguish Hyperspektiv from imaging apps like Instagram. Grenier feels that Instragram is designed to flatter, enhance or sort of exaggerate certain things. "Our filters are really our product, and they're meant to really alter and distort, to really be additive in a way," Grenier says. "You're generating art just through the input of the camera, aside from pointing it at something interesting."
Grenier say there are no plans to make a social media app or gallery platform out of Hyperspektiv. He believes the real magic arises when users have the freedom to run the app's warped video through other apps like Mextures. Boreta and Grenier want users to be able to share the visuals wherever they want. And because there is no time cap on the amount of video that can be recorded (other than the iPhone's own limits), Boreta, Grenier, and Lavell hope people make entire films with Hyperspektiv.
"What we've done is not groundbreaking and disruptive from a software standpoint, it's just about how we put the pieces together," Boreta says. "It's a new take on things. We jokingly call it a techno-kaleidoscope. It's not just meant to be a video editor. It really comes to life when you walk around and point it at stuff."
- the glitch mob
- image processing
- video app
- Allan Lavell
- Dean Grenier
- Justin Boreta