One of the most difficult things for an amateur videographer to do is capture the moment. You pull out your camera at little Billy’s birthday party, but you still never know when the truly cute things are going to happen.  So most of us end up filming everything we can, resulting in hours of footage just so we can have that one five-second scene we really wanted.  But now, a new app for the iPhone aims to simplify things a bit and make it easy to capture the most important moments.

The app, from Airship Software LLC, is called Precorder, and it’s basically an ongoing recording of a few seconds of time.  You don’t need to hit the record button… Precorder will still be recording perpetually, saving only the most recent few seconds. Then, when little Billy does something ridiculously adorable… you hit the ‘record’ button.  Precorder will then save the few seconds of footage taken before you pushed ‘record,’ as well as everything afterward until you stop the recording.

From their website:

“By constantly saving the previous few seconds of video before you hit record, Precorder lets you wait until something interesting happens to start recording, and you’ll never miss a precious moment or get stuck with hours of boring video to painstakingly edit down.”

This reminds me a lot of my DVR. I honestly don’t know if all DVR’s do this–I think they do–but mine is always recording what I’m watching, for up to 30 minutes, and until I change the channel.  So if I’m watching Seinfeld re-run, (which I do often), and ten minutes in my wife needs me to run to the store for milk (which she does often), I can just hit the record button and head out.  Because the DVR is perpetually recording what I’m watching, I’ll have the entire episode waiting for me when I return–not just the part that came after I pushed ‘record.” This is also the reason we’re able to pause and rewind live television using a DVR.

So Precorder is the same kind of concept, only for your iPhone’s video camera.  Instead of keeping your finger on ‘record’ forever and ever, you can simply point the phone at the subject. And instead of recording hours and hours of footage, you can end up with just the part you were really after all along.

Let me give you a real world example:  I’m a bit of an amateur nature photographer (a bad one), and I have a hummingbird feeder in my back yard. I’ve tried several times to get some good HD footage of those birds.  But they’re horribly fast creatures, and they come and go with no real rhyme or reason.  So the best I’ve been able to do is set up a stationary camera, push record, and then wade through hours of footage to find the three-second segments when the birds are in frame.  An app like Precorder–or at least the technology behind it–would come in pretty handy for such a project.

It’s kind of genius, really, and terribly useful if it works as advertised. Sadly, I don’t have an iPhone, and the app isn’t available on Android. But I’d love to test an Android version. If you have kids or goofy pets, you have probably often tried to capture the best moments on video.  And you’ve probably gone mad trying to do it.  Now, Precorder should help ensure you get the moments you’re after–assuming you’re willing to walk around with your iPhone out, pointing it at your intended subject indefinitely.

Execution is everything on an app like this, I think.  If the interface is clunky, or if the app uses up too much battery or memory… the usefulness will go right out of it.  But in concept alone, I think it’s fantastic, and definitely fills a need.  Precorder is available in the App Store for $1.99. If you try it out, be sure to let us know how well it works.