Staff Picks: Moju adds some literal motion to stop-motion imagery

moju timeline

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At a Glance
  • Moju Labs Moju

moju example 03

I’ve tried a lot of “trick” imagery apps in my years shooting pictures on an iPhone. But as neat an idea as something like Frontback or Vine is, it’s hard to integrate it into your daily routine. I’m not sure yet if stop-motion photo app Moju will become something I turn to regularly, but I’m already enjoying it much more than any other specialty app.

A mix of Instagram and Vine, the app offers a public timeline of moving photos, each up to 24 frames in length. But it’s how these images play that’s the magic of Moju: While you begin on a single frame of an image, tilting your device left and right will run you through 24 frames of stop-motion delight. The timeline runs both forwards and backwards, which can lead to some pretty amusing playback, depending on the post in question.

moju record

Moju's ghosting feature makes creating stop-motion animation a cinch.

Creating a post is as much fun as watching one, if not more: Tapping the camera button brings you to a square recording screen with a giant blue capture button, 24 blank dots, and a settings button. Tapping the blue button once snaps a picture; holding down the button captures images in quick succession. Like Vine and other stop-motion apps, Moju offers a “ghosting” mode (which displays your previous shot at half opacity) for easily lining your next shot up with the previous one. You can also add a grid, flip from your front to back camera, or undo a shot.

I do wish you could preview your Moju in this capture screen, though you can work around this by pressing next, playing the video, then pressing the back arrow. You also can only undo shots in order—there’s no way to remove an image you dislike from the middle of the animation without removing any successive shots.

Once you’ve finished capture, press the next button to filter your Moju in one of eleven colors, all named after celestial bodies. The filters are fun without being too excessively Instagrammy—more tints and contrast than anything else.

After that, you can add a comment and share to Facebook, Twitter, or the public Moju feed. Tapping the public button turns the post private, which means it only shows up when you send someone a link. Brilliantly, Moju posts display in their native “twist to view” form on a mobile device; when viewed on a desktop, all you have to do is mouse over the animation. The app’s sharing features are well-built, with a lovely Web view, though there’s currently no way to view profiles on the desktop and no embedding yet, either, which is a bit of a disappointment.

moju timeline

Featured posts get a special sticker icon in the right corner.

Now, because Moju also doesn’t yet offer the ability to follow your favorite users, its main timeline is crucially important: The posts have to be engaging, fun, and (preferably) family-friendly. Thankfully, Moju’s staff seems to be pretty good at this, highlighting random posts with special stickers like “fun,” “yummy,” “awesome,” “what?”, “cool,” “extreme,” “cute,” and more. I’m not a huge fan of public timelines, but actually found this one pretty fun to browse—the app is barely a few weeks old, and Moju’s users are already doing fun and innovative tricks. That said, I’m hoping the app’s creators integrate the “follow” function in future releases.

As is typical of startup-funded apps, Moju is currently free on the App Store; there’s currently no in-app advertising, though I suspect it could be a great bit of branding for the agency who’s eventually willing to try it out. By and large, users hate audio ads, but quirky silent stop-motion? It might be an interesting alternative.

In short: If you’re a fan of fun photo or video apps, or a stop-motion enthusiast, give Moju a try. It’s worth at least an afternoon’s worth of enjoyment—where you take it from there depends on you.

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At a Glance
  • A quirky combination of Instagram and stop-motion imagery, Moju offers a quick way to create 24-frame animations and provide more fun than static pictures have to offer.

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