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Flare brings HDR video effect to iPhone

It's not quite up to the level of what can be done with high-end SLRs, but Flare gives a real-time taste of high-dynamic range imagery to video shot with the iPhone.

The Flare HDR video app in action.
The Flare HDR video app in action. Apple

A videographer who's brought the distinctive look of high dynamic range (HDR) photography to video has released an iPhone app that tackles the technology.

Flare debuted today for $1.99 on the Apple App Store. It uses an image-processing algorithm to try to perform HDR duties such as bringing out details otherwise lost in the murk of shadowy areas. Unsurprisingly, it doesn't match up to the HDR video that developer Alaric Cole produced with two Canon 5D Mark II SLR cameras and a beam splitter as part of Soviet Montage Productions. It is, after all, just a single lowly mobile phone image sensor.

"The algorithm is an adaptation of what I wrote for the original Soviet Montage clip," Cole said. "I'm definitely not claiming this is anything like what we did with two 5D's, but I have spent over 1700 hours on this project, so it is doing something ;)"

The app comes with an slider to adjust the strength of the effect. For a gander at what it does on its default settings, check out this video of Flare for the iPhone my colleague Josh Lowensohn shot this morning on his iPhone 4 in the glamorous CNET offices. (Guess who has the Andy Warhol-Marilyn Monroe print?) To see it at a punchier maxed-out setting, here's another video. (Guess who has the space invaders on the office door?)

The phone works on an iPhone 3GS or later; Cole has high hopes the app will get better with whatever Apple releases next. "I am actively developing this and hope to reach a new milestone, especially with the upcoming iPhone," he said.