Nearly five years after launching, Instagram’s back-and-forth video loop maker Boomerang is finally getting a big update. Users will now be able to add SlowMo, motion, “Echo” blurring, and “Duo” rapid rewind special effects to their Boomerangs, as well as trim their length. This is the biggest creative upgrade yet for one of mobile’s most popular content creation tools.
The effects could help keep Instagram interesting. After so many years of Boomerangs, many viewers simply skip past them in Stories after the first loop since they’re so consistent. The extra visual flare of the new effects could keep people’s attention for a few more seconds and unlock new forms of comedy. That’s critical as Instagram tries to compete with TikTok, which has tons of special effects that have spawned their own meme formats.
“Starting today, people on Instagram will be able to share new SloMo, Echo and Duo Boomerang modes on Instagram” a Facebook company spokesperson tells TechCrunch. “Your Instagram camera gives you ways to express yourself and easily share what you’re doing, thinking or feeling with your friends. Boomerang is one of the most beloved camera formats and we’re excited to expand the creative ways that you can use Boomerang to turn everyday moments into something fun and unexpected.”
The new Boomerang tools can be found by swiping right on Instagram to open the Stories composer, and then swiping left at the bottom of the screen’s shutter selector. After shooting a Boomerang, an infinity symbol button atop the screen reveals the alternate effects and video trimmer.
Typically, Boomerang captures one second of silent video which is then played forward and then in reverse three times to create a six second loop that can be shared or downloaded as a video. Here are the new effects you can add plus how Instagram described them to me in a statement:
- SlowMo – Reduces Boomerangs to half-speed so it plays for two seconds in each direction instead of one second. “Slows down your Boomerang to capture each detail”
- Echo – Adds a motion blur effect so a translucent trail appears behind anything moving, almost like you’re drunk. “Creates a double vision effect.”
- Duo – Rapidly rewinds the clip the beginning with glitchy digitized look. “Both speeds up and slows down your Boomerang, adding a texturized effect.”
- Trimming – Shorten your Boomerang with similar controls to iPhone’s camera roll or the Instagram feed video composer. “Edit the length of your Boomerang, and when it starts or ends.”
The effects aren’t entirely original. Snapchat has offered slow-motion and fast-foward video effects just days after the original launch of Boomerang back in 2015. TikTok meanwhile offers several motion blur filters and glitchy digital transitions. But since these are all available with traditional video, unlike on Instagram where they’re confined to Boomerangs, there’s less creative flexibility to use the effects to hide cuts between takes or play with people’s voices.
Hopefully we’ll see these features brought over to Instagram’s main Stories and video composers. Video trimming would be especially helpful since a boring start to a Story can quickly lead viewers to skip it.
Instagram has had years of domination in the social video space. But with Snapchat finally growing again and TikTok becoming a global phenomenon, Instagram must once again fight to maintain its superiority. Now approaching 10 years old, it’s at risk of becoming stale if it can’t keep giving people ways to make hastily shot phone content compelling.