iPhone movies go pro with Boston-based app

These days, anybody can produce a professional-looking video. All you need is a decent camera, a powerful desktop computer, some costly software and lots of spare time.

But Directr Inc. of Boston thinks it’s come up with a better way. It’s built a free app for Apple Inc.’s iPhone that turns the phone into a pocket-sized movie studio. Directr lets the user quickly shoot the video, edit it, add titles, narration and a music soundtrack. Then it pumps the finished work into the Internet cloud where it can easily be shared with others.

Directr’s most innovative feature is a set of storyboards--hand-drawn sketches that show step by step the kinds of scenes that an amateur filmmaker should include in his movie. Most people just start shooting video, without knowing in advance what shots they’ll need to tell a coherent story. Professional filmmakers use storyboards to lay out the action in every scene, so they know exactly where they’re going.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Directr comes with about 200 pre-packaged storyboards to guide the user through various types of short videos. For instance, a camping trip storyboard suggests you start with a shot of the family packing its gear, then show everybody getting into the car, followed by shots of scenery rolling by. “You don’t have to think about how to tell stories,” said Eli Schleifer, Directr’s chief technology officer. “We’ve had professionals figure that out for you.”

Directr lets you import video clips from other sources, and blend in music from a built-in selection of tunes or your own music collectiong. Users get two gigabytes of online storage space as well. They can share the videos with friends, or publish them for all the world to see.

Backed by investments from NextView Ventures, Boston Seed Capital and Advancit Capital, Directr is designed for smartphone cinemaphiles who need a little help turning their pretty pictures into engaging stories.