Everybody’s favorite vlog app, TouchCast, is now Instagram-ized

touchcast hands on instacast

If you’d like to take your vlog to a whole new level, there’s an iPad app that can provide you with an assortment of functions you thought only full-version (and expensive) software or video professionals could accomplish.

TouchCast is a video authoring tool that provides the entire functionality of a production studio for web video in your iPad. Users can either “Touch” – or watch and touch videos created through the app on their iPad or TouchCast.com – or “Cast,” and create videos.

In the Cast option, you can choose from a variety of themes to start your project with: News, Business, Sports, Here’s How, Review It, and Travel Diary. You basically can talk about anything on camera and be able to apply the appropriate look to your video.

tc hands onWhat makes TouchCast awesome is the fact that it uses vApps, or video apps that can be added by any TouchCast user to enrich the content of their projects, making things appear onscreen as they are talked about on camera.

tc appsYou can bring up an article you’ve read on the Internet and have it appear like a TV-style graphic on your video, but when you click on or touch it, it launches the article into full browser mode. You can include a Twitter feed, videos, images, polls, maps, and all sorts of other things into your TouchCast by using vApps and see them update in real-time within your video, without interrupting your playback.

Other TouchCast features include sound effects, visual filters, a green screen option that eliminates unwanted background, and a whiteboard option that allows users to draw on top of their video.

How to navigate through TouchCast

TouchCast’s editing screen has five major controls:

Camera

If you want your TouchCast to be scripted, you can activate the teleprompter option (that comes with adjustable speed) and type what you intend to say all throughout the cast so you can read it while recording. You can adjust the opacity of the elements that appear onscreen. The mic monitor enables you to see your sound level. You can turn the camera on or off, lock the camera’s focus and exposure, and swap between your iPad’s rear and front-facing cameras. You can also turn guides on if you’re a rule-of-thirds nut.

touchcast camera

Effects

You can add visual and sound effects to your TouchCast. This is where you will find the Green Screen option, which will allow you to pick a color to remove from the screen and adjust sensitivity to fine-tune the removal.

touchcast effects

Whiteboard

If you want the option to encircle a portion of an element on your screen to illustrate or highlight important details, you can do so by using Whiteboard. You can activate more than one board at a time, change your board’s surface type, use either a marker or a text tool to write on your surface, and erase the stuff that you’ve written by either using an eraser or by clearing the entire board.

touchcast whiteboard

Titles

This controls how you want your TouchCast title to appear. You can create as many titles as you want and choose from a variety of styles provided by the app. You can program your title to disappear after a set amount of time, or you can have it stay on for the entire duration of your recording.

title touchcast

vApps

Finally, you can access a collection of video apps you can utilize for your project and choose ones that are most relevant to your topic, style, or treatment.

The latest vApp to be added to the TouchCast library is Instagram, which allows you to load up your TouchCast project with photos from your own Instagram photostream or search Instagram by user or hashtag, and you can include up to 80 images to choose from for your Cast (video). It will take a while to load, but once it does, you will be brought into the editing screen that will have your photos in a timeline below.

You can also instantly use the Instagram vApp by selecting the InstaCast theme prior to creating a new project.

A look into TouchCast using the InstaCast theme

Once you’ve preloaded some of your Instagrams into your editing screen, you can use any (or all) of them as an onscreen element by tapping on it. It will show up on your main screen where you can move it around or add a title. Here’s my first whack at the app, documented in my very first TouchCast:

“There are two things that make TouchCast great,” Erick Schonfeld, TouchCast’s Chief of Content, tells us. “First, it helps anyone create amazing videos by putting a TV studio in their hands, and second, the video Apps (vApps) turn TouchCasts into a whole new medium that seamlessly combines video and the Web… it not only has the potential to change the way we create and consume videos, but it will also change the Web itself.” Instead of aiming to look as bright and shiny as the pages of a print magazine, Web pages can now take the evolutionary step into video Web:

“We want to make it as easy as possible for anyone to create compelling videos with high production values. One of the ways we do this is with our themes,” Schonfeld continues. “With the InstaCast theme (which includes the vApp and a new title treatment), you can bring in all of your Instagram photos to create a TouchCast about them. Photos are a perfect medium to embed in a TouchCast, and millions of people chronicle their lives through Instagram, [where] they tend to put their best photos. Now they can access those photos as the source material to create a video about their lives or interests.”

Instagram is only one of the communities TouchCast hopes to cater to. According to Schonfeld, the company has plans to include more themes that will enable other niche users to experience TouchCast.

What’s good

The app’s user interface is basic and simple – anybody who’s just downloaded it for the first time will have an easy time learning the ropes. While there are only five menus available to control, each one offers a lot to work with compared to other video-making apps.

My favorite features are the teleprompter and the whiteboard options. No matter how spontaneous you want to appear on your videos, you will eventually run out of clever things to say, and having that back-up makes the whole ordeal less stressful and more organized. And how much fun is it to be able to draw on top of your face while you’re venting on camera? A lot. 

For now, TouchCast uploads are limited to an hour long, but it can be comprised of as many TouchCasts as you’d like. That’s more than enough for any vlogger, and certainly provides more leeway compared to the likes of Instagram video (which, as we all know, is limited to 15 seconds per clip).

What needs more work

To be honest, right now I’m experiencing first-timer awe for TouchCast, and in this mode it’s very hard to find something to criticize. My first video, I admit, is a little dopey and bland, so maybe new functions that will make it easier to add pizzazz to any recording – such as background music – would help immensely.

Also, tweaks to the green screen option might be needed, such as an added lasso or select tool that will help users isolate themselves from the background more efficiently. Or at least a simple onscreen guide on how to use the function correctly. So you don’t have to end up with something like this:

tc green screen

Final thoughts

All things considered, TouchCast is an incredible tool that allows way more functionality than other apps in the market that provide basic video taking-and-sharing. By using the InstaCast theme, you get to enjoy photos from Instagram while watching a video that trumps the media-sharing app’s own video option currently limited to only fifteen seconds.

TouchCast provides a more in-depth and interactive look into the things that interest you the most about social media. It expertly retains your attention and encourages participation by providing online elements that lead to something beyond just one video. If there’s one thing that TouchCast does well, it’s understanding people’s hunger for information of all kinds and catering to the common Internet user’s tendency to multitask.

TouchCast is free to download on iTunes and can be used on an iPad version 2 or later. Additionally, users can view TouchCasts on the official website through Safari or Google Chrome as well as on YouTube, although the latter doesn’t have TouchCast’s vApp technology enabled. More platforms and subscription plans are scheduled to be released later this year. An Android version of the app is also in the works.

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