Review: Frame Grabber a useful 1080p Windows Phone utility and Lumia Moments stand-in


Getting the right 'moment' on camera has always been tricky, whether it's your kid's sports day or a birthday party. It's so easy to miss the moment, especially on camera-centric devices like the Lumia 1020, which is why shooting 1080p video and worrying about extracting the perfect 2MP 'still' later on is an attractive alternative. I've previously covered Vid2Pix, but that has some serious bugs that come back, erratically, to annoy. Instead, give Frame Grabber a try, it's potentially much faster and seems more stable in doing this most difficult of jobs - deconstructing MP4 video!

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As a bonus, in the absence of Lumia Moments for Windows 10 Mobile, this can also come to the rescue, albeit only in 1080p resolution, not 4K! For the purposes of this review I'll assume a Lumia 1020/920/925 or similar, where 1080p is the maximum video resolution anyway. Incidentally, I've been asking the Microsoft teams for some time for a Snapdragon S4-compatible version of Lumia Moments, to no avail. Which is why these third party solutions will have to do!

The idea is the same as for Lumia Moments (on Windows Phone 8.1 Lumia 830s, 930s and 1520s) and for Vid2Pix - you shoot some video of something important and then, later on, at your leisure, when the pressure's off, you sit down and see what magic moments you can pull out as stills for sharing round the family.

Frame Grabber screenshotFrame Grabber screenshot

Whereas Vid2Pix worked by letting you get to a specific moment quickly and then taking ages to build the frame details at that point, Frame Grabber optimises things better:

  1. Pick a starting period (of 5 seconds) in the video.
  2. Wait while the 125 or so frames from that segment are rendered from the highly compressed MP4 file.
  3. Pick one you're interested in, check it on-screen and then save to your Camera Roll at up to 2 Megapixels.

Frame Grabber screenshotFrame Grabber screenshot

In fact, you don't have to wait for the whole set of five seconds of frames to be created (this take around a minute on the now old Lumia 1020) - if the one you want, or think you might want, is on-screen, just tap on it to view it individually and then swipe backwards and forwards. In other words, you don't have to wait for all the frame processing to finish.

The saving process is also instantaneous, since the frames concerned have already been rendered - this is a big time saver and you can easily save as many frames as you like.

The eagle-eyed will notice one quirk - the quick previews of each rendered frame only show the left side of each frame - I'm not sure if this is a bug or some kind of limitation, but it's not a showstopper, since you simply tap through to see any frames fully.

Having saved some frames, you can view the results in Photos or similar - I'm using HD Photo Viewer below, since this gives me the resolution on-screen, confirming the 2MP figure. In 2015, two megapixels doesn't seem like a lot, but it's still plenty enough for a print or to completely fill a standard 1080p monitor or TV - obviously!

Frame Grabber screenshotFrame Grabber screenshot

I've zoomed in a little above, right, to show the quality - don't dismiss frame grabs from video too easily. Yes, the absolute quality will be quite a way below that which you can achieve with carefully composed stills. But when someone's blowing out candles or winning a race or opening a present (or whatever), you rarely get the chance to 'carefully compose'. In which case just shoot video and relax.

And, with Frame Grabber, Lumia 1020/920/925 owners can all now join in the frame grabbing fun too. Well worth a try, it's free and in the Store here.

PS. If anyone's wondering, yes, Lumia Moments will re-appear for Windows 10 Mobile and the likes of the Lumia 930 - Microsoft is err.... 'working on it'!

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