Mobile Videography – MoJo – Interview with Chris Demiris and Terri Morgan from LumaTouch

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We are delighted to publish the first of a new series of mobile videography developer interviews edited by Vanessa Vox. This week Vox talks with Chris Demiris and Terri Morgan from LumaTouch. I think you will enjoy this very much… (foreword by Joanne Carter)

“LumaClip and LumaFX (released 2016) are two powerful iOS video apps they come highly recommended and are easy to use. Thus, I was very curious to know more about the developers behind these innovative new products.

In 2013 Chris Demiris (Engineering) and Terri Morgan (Design) co-founded ‘LumaTouch’ in Sandy (Utah, USA). Their intention was to ‘create innovative video products that take full advantage of modern touch interfaces’.

Previously Demiris and Morgan were the principal designer and the lead developer of ‘Pinnacle Studio’ for iOS. Their newly founded company ‘LumaTouch’ is still responsible for the updates of this well known and awarded video editing app. Currently a major overhaul of ‘Pinnacle Studio’ and ‘Pinnacle Studio Pro’ is under way.

The secret behind the success of LumaTouch is the development of the ‘SpryEngine’, the result of three years work. Spry is a powerful framework for developing video apps utilising the latest features of iOS. It is for this reason that LumaTouch is taking a leadership position.

The ‘SpryEngine’ is designed to handle many layers. The app LumaFX as an example is built on this basis, and allows to add up to eight real time effects on a clip. This was almost impossible before. It means more speed, more functions and more fun for the users.

Now let’s have a talk with Terri and Chris about their work and their vision”.

Terri Morgan and Chris Demiris

Image: ‘Terri Morgan & Chris Demiris, video app developers since 2010, co-founders from LumaTouch’

Please share with us, what it was that inspired you to become App Developers?

Chris: I started programming when I was 14, and was lucky enough to work on computers in the video industry very early-on with the Amiga computer. I sold the first company I co-founded, Hollywood FX, to Pinnacle Systems, which became a part of Avid in 2005. In 2010 we were trying to decide what to do next, and Terri and I who had worked together on a number of projects proposed Pinnacle Studio for iOS. The original iPad had just come out, and I had an engineer on my team who had written a game for the iPhone, so we thought we’d jump in.

Terri: I come from the creative side. I started video editing in college and started working at a Post-Production company as an editor just as Non-Linear editing was coming onto the scene in 1988. Video editing has always been my passion as well as my profession. Through my passion for video editing I got involved in product design with several companies who were building non-linear video editing systems such as Lightworks, Techtronix, and Fast Multimedia (the later of which was purchased by Pinnacle Systems, then Avid, and finally Corel). I have always been a strong advocate for usability, having spent years behind the keyboard of many professional video editing systems.

I first met Chris at Pinnacle Systems about 2003. He stood out as a highly respected, personable and talented developer, so in 2010 when Avid gave us an opportunity realize the Pinnacle Studio for iOS product together with a small team, I was more than excited. Coincidentally, I had been working towards my Masters Degree in Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington, so the Agile methodology we were using for the development of Pinnacle Studio for iOS fit perfectly with the practices involved with Human Centered Design. As Chris mentioned, those practices are still a core part of how we design and develop our Luma Touch products.

Following your development of LumaTouch – do you have a mission statement to share with us?

We’ve always loved developing tools for creative individuals that help them make something different and interesting. I would say the closest thing to a mission statement is from a brochure we just created for Mojocon: “Our passion is to create innovative video products that take full advantage of modern touch interfaces”.

Video: ‘Welcome to Luma Touch’. This video is a short introduction to Luma Touch by Co-Founder Terri Morgan, followed by a description of LumaClip and LumaFX’

Would you care to describe the Pinnacle Studio Pro recent update and reveal any future plans you may have?

In our last feature update to Pinnacle Studio Pro, we added a number of new functions for importing and exporting audio. You can now import audio directly into the timeline from AudioCopy, AudioShare and other apps from within the ‘Voiceover’ tool. We also added export of audio-only from the Share button, allowing you to export to AudioCopy, AudioShare and other apps.

We’re currently working on a major overhaul of Pinnacle Studio which will provide realtime preview (no more rendering), multiple video tracks and much more.

Pinnacle Studio Pro for iPad, iPhone and iPod. One of the best video editor app to arrange your clips in a storyboard and a timeline. You are able to use a precision trimer with dual view, diverse transition effects, a pic in pic composition, adjustable titles/graphics, slow/fast adjustments and a multiple audio tracks with a simple audio mixer. $12.99/£9.99/download here.

Do you foresee more mobile captured films being edited on mobile devices in the future?

With newer devices like the iPad Pro, we definitely see more editing taking place on mobile devices, and we hope to position Pinnacle Studio and our Luma Touch apps to make that more likely. We’re also working to make it so that editors can easily start editing on their mobile devices, then easily transfer projects to the desktop for finishing, making for a truly productive (and fun) workflow.

‘LumaClip is great (and free) for quickly re-framing a video and positioning it exactly as you’d like (for example, fitting a vertical video into a landscape frame), as well as adjusting speed, reversing video, and rotating videos. It’s a quick and simple toolbox to prepare a video for upload or editing.’ Free/download

In 2016 you launched the following apps – LumaClip, LumaFX and LumaFusion (coming soon)- can you tell us more about your decisions?

We’ve been updating Pinnacle Studio with great new features for 3 years now, but we’ve also been working on a brand new architecture for better video manipulation on iOS, and LumaClip and LumaFX are the first fruits of that labor. They are more focused apps for working with single clips, but demonstrate some of the capabilities we’ll be bringing to Pinnacle Studio soon.

LumaFX includes everything that LumaClip has, but is really all about effects. You can add multiple effects, rearrange them, and adjust parameters quickly and easily to create interesting and unique results. $3.99/£2.99 download here.

Please describe the strengths of each of the apps?

LumaClip is great (and free) for quickly re-framing a video and positioning it exactly as you’d like (for example, fitting a vertical video into a landscape frame), as well as adjusting speed, reversing video, and rotating videos. It’s a quick and simple toolbox to prepare a video for upload or editing.

LumaFX includes everything that LumaClip has, but is really all about effects. You can add multiple effects, rearrange them, and adjust parameters quickly and easily to create interesting and unique results.

Video – ‘Introducing LumaFX’. LumaFX is a powerful choice for layering customisable video FX and color correction. Add color effects, styles, blurs and distortions in any order to create custom effects. Adjust individual parameters on each effect and color correction.

Who are you appealing to, who are your customers?

We see a wide range of users for LumaClip and LumaFX. While we hope the apps are easily usable by anyone, our products definitely appeal more to professional and semi-pro users. Both Terri and I have a background in professional video editing, and we tend to create products that provide more control than the average iOS app, but we also try to make our apps approachable by anyone. LumaFX is the first app that my 19 year old daughter has enjoyed using.

What is the ‘Spry Engine’ and why is it so powerful?

We created what would become Pinnacle Studio (originally Avid Studio) in 2010, when iOS was still in its infancy (particularly on iPad), and we used a lot of technology from our Windows development. This worked well at the time, but is starting to show its age. The SpryEngine is the culmination of our last three years work to create a more modern engine for manipulating and compositing video and audio. It takes advantage of all of the latest features of iOS, and the knowledge we’ve gained in iOS development over five years, to allow for custom compositing with multiple effects in ways that simply haven’t been possible before.

‘The SpryEngine is the culmination of three years LumaTouch work to create a more modern engine for manipulating and compositing video and audio. The secret behind LumaTouch new apps’.

What is the biggest and most rewarding challenge you have faced in app development?

There are two key challenges we’ve faced. Probably the biggest challenge was in bringing Pinnacle Studio to mobile, completely rethinking how the user interacts with apps on mobile devices versus the desktop and trying to make an experience that was professional and fun at the same time. Another challenge is the app-store environment itself. When I first started in the industry, we sold our ‘app’, Hollywood FX for $499 each (and it would take overnight to render a 1 second animation). Now we sell Pinnacle Studio (which is hundreds of times more powerful) for $10 to $15. It can be a very difficult environment to succeed in. We’ve managed to succeed by staying small and carefully focused and by trying to build a core customer community. The biggest rewards are seeing how customers (like yourself) use our apps to create interesting and amazing results. Knowing that our tools helped in some way to achieve amazing artistic results is particularly rewarding to me, since my artistic talents are fairly limited.

How do you involve your app customers in the development of your apps?

When we started creating Pinnacle Studio for iOS, we used a new development methodology called Agile. One of its key rules was to bring in customers after every ‘chunk’ of development to try out the app and give feedback. Watching a customer struggle to figure something out that we thought was obvious was a real learning experience, and was a new beginning for us in really listening to our customers and trying to make sure our apps brought something pleasant and rewarding to them. With every development now, we seek feedback from customers, bring in customers as beta testers and work hard to incorporate their feedback. Every customer request is added to our feature backlog, and we try to incorporate as many requests as possible with each new update (though we’re certainly limited in how much we can do each update).

The LumaTouch Forum is split into four categories: general, Pinacle Studio for iOS, Luma FX for iOS, LumaClip for iOS

Do you have a future roadmap you could share with us?

With LumaFX, you’ll see great new effects, and features like key framing which will allow animation of effects over time, making it much more interesting. We’ll also be integrating LumaFX with Pinnacle Studio to allow for effects on any clips in multiple tracks on the Pinnacle Studio timeline, allowing for amazing multi-layer effects within the Pinnacle Studio editing environment.

Is there anything I didn’t ask that you’d like readers to know?

If you’re having any difficulties with our apps, please contact us! We will do everything we can to resolve your problems and we always love to hear feature requests. The best place to get help is on our forums at forums.luma-touch.com (use registration code 52pstudio47 to register). You can also email us directly at info@luma-touch.com. If you like our apps, please rate or review them on the app store each time we come out with an update. This makes a big impact for us, and helps us to continue adding great features and fixes in new updates.

Thank you Chris and Terri, we wish LumaTouch all the best for the future!

‘LumaTouch-created 2013 by Chris Demiris (Engineering) and Terri Morgan (Design)-developed four apps for iPhone & iPad: LumaClip, LumaFX, Pinnacle Studio and Pinnacle Studio Pro’.

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4 thoughts on “Mobile Videography – MoJo – Interview with Chris Demiris and Terri Morgan from LumaTouch

    • Heartfelt thanks Tina. I’m very happy that you appreciate this interview. It is really fascinating to learn more about the developers and their work behind such useful apps.

  1. Vanessa,

    This was insightful and informative. Been a user of Pinnacle from the beginnings of it foray into editing on iOS. LOVE the app. Looking forward to what magic the Luma folks have coming to their apps.

    Truly, a feature or a doc edited and finished on iOS is a major achievment. The computational horsepower is there, along with some unique iOS only attributes. It is the offline / online storage issue i see as a major barrier to a doing this at this point. And no, cloud storage is not the answer.

    Great interview and article Vanessa, hope you do a follow up interview, post their major updates / releases.

    Be well

    Laurence

  2. Vanessa,

    Just got the Frame.IO iOS app, so solutions are coming for large scale productions, but again this is a cloud based solution. We will see how this works out. Now if someone created a NAS/ video / audio tool that can be run on set over wifi could see this being useful .

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