When Michael Zaletel was getting to the final stages of launching Vizzywig 4K — a new iPhone app that has the ability to film, edit and upload video in 4K resolution — he wanted to make it the most expensive app of all time.
But he told TheBlaze Apple wouldn't grant him special permission to exceed its $999.99 cost limit on apps, so that's where it stands.
What's so grand about a smartphone app to merit such a high price tag?
Picture this: Zaletel and his kids were on the "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride at Disneyland, which has some splashes, and he was holding a $50,000-plus 4K camera to capture every moment of their delight.
"I'm holding onto it for dear life and think, what am I doing carrying this thing around Disneyland?" he told TheBlaze.
That's when Zaletel, whose company i4software created this and other photo and video apps, started thinking that there must be a way to take video in the highest quality possible on a phone and combine that with an app that also can do editing and uploading.
Eventually, Vizzywig 4K was born, building upon its much cheaper older brother Vizzywig, which goes for $29.99 in the app store.
"A lot of people are going to think we’re kidding or that it’s a joke or a scam or that we’re making false claims and it couldn’t be further than the truth," Zaletel said of the more expensive app. "We really believe what we created is unique and there isn’t anything else like it. Instead of looking at what consumers might pay, we said, 'what is this thing worth?'"
As technology continues to improve, Zaletel said even high-definition footage will someday be looked at like a VHS tape as it's watched on a high-def TV.
"The reason I’m taking 4K video of my kids is because my parents took VHS of me and it just looks like crap today," he said. "The same thing is going to happen 20 years from now. We're probably going to have 80 inch 4K TVs that fill our walls. When we go back to watch these videos ... they're going to look like really poor resolution."
But the Vizzywig 4K app isn't for the average parent just yet, and the price is actually meant to be a deterrent for some, Zaletel said.
"One of the reasons it's priced high is we don't want people who don't understand why it's cool buying it and thinking that it's like any other video app," he said, explaining that people who don't understand could easily shoot just three minutes of footage and completely fill their iPhone's storage capacity.
According to Zaletel, what makes Vizzywig 4K unique is that its data capture rate is 576 Megabits per second.
Here's an example of a 4K video filmed, edited and uploaded using the Vizzywig app (Note: be sure to change the resolution of the video to 4K by using the gear icon in the lower right-hand corner of the YouTube player. If you don't do this, YouTube will default to a lower resolution. You might have to let it load before hitting play after upping the quality):
The app, which is available for iPhone 5S users and hopefully the new iPhone 6 users in the future, Zaletel said, captures high-quality still photos at a rate of 24 photos per second. This means that a user could be shooting video and when they're finished they could pick out still images to be used as photos afterward.
"If you’re a reporter," Zaletel said, offering an example, "and you’re on scene first at major breaking event and you just have your iPhone, if you shoot with Vizzywig 4K, you don't have to decide to take photos or video. You get both."
In addition to capturing images and audio, the app also includes an editing feature, which takes out the step of downloading footage to a computer with editing software. The app also allows users to directly post to video-sharing sites like YouTube.
As of right now given the current storage capabilities on most smartphones, Zaletel said the app is really intended for people like journalists in the field, film students (it could save them a considerable amount of money as they're learning) and independent filmmakers. But he added that a major producer has contacted him as well, wanting to try out the app, which signals to Zaletel that the film industry is interested in the future of mobile devices to make mainstream movies.
"Even high-end guys are going to be looking at this and thinking ‘is this where the future is headed?'" Zaletel said. "The reason for that is because when Apple can make 100 million phones, think of economies of scale on technology ... think of research and development money that can go into that. A lot of camera companies can only make 5,000 to 10,000 per year.
"High-volume and high-quality device [manufacturers] will surpass technology that’s being used for making movies," Zaletel speculated of the future. "Think of when the personal computer got so powerful ... I think that’s what we're going to find happening with cinematography."
Also embedded in the price is a promise for above-and-beyond customer support.
"Anyone who buys the app will get my cellphone and personal email address," Zaletel said. "We’re going VIP black service with tech support on this and we should, it’s a $1,000 app."
So, while costly the iPhone app is not necessarily intended for the average parent to take video at this weekend's soccer game, Zaletel said the time is coming when phone storage capabilities will be better on smartphones and able to accommodate filming activities of the more mainstream user in 4K.
He added that the company will be keeping the price of the app at $999.99 for at least a year, thinking that they might change it sometime down the road depending on advancements and competitors. If Vizzywig 4K or something like it becomes more mainstream later down the line, it could make watching that 1st birthday party a decade after it was filmed that much more enjoyable due to better quality.