Movie-editing software is probably among the most underused technologies on the consumer market. Powerful programs like Adobe’s Premiere and Apple’s iMovie often come preinstalled on desktop computers, but many people never use them.
Mobile software could change that.
Apps like VidTrim (free on Android), Avid Studio for iPad ($5) and the mobile version of iMovie ($5 on Apple) are less ambitious than the desktop programs, so they’re easier to learn. And with mobile devices quickly replacing camcorders, you can shoot, edit and share your video with others within a few minutes.
I found iMovie the easiest and most versatile video-editing app for Apple products. People who own both iPhones and iPads can buy iMovie once, and it’ll work on both devices.
The app is designed for people who want to shoot and immediately edit and export their videos, without fussing with too many postproduction special effects. It is slightly difficult to understand at first, but there are a few tricks that can help flatten the learning curve.
The first trick is finding the tutorial.
IMovie includes no help button on pages where you’re editing video, which of course is where you’ll most likely seek help. Instead, the familiar question mark button appears only on the home page.
That tutorial, which is also online, is well worth perusing before you start a project, since it highlights features you might otherwise overlook.
The basics are simple enough. You can load multiple clips and photos from your Apple mobile device’s camera roll into a single “project” and drag and drop them into your preferred sequence.
IMovie does a great job of presenting your camera roll’s contents. Thumbnail images expand so you can sample video clips before choosing what you like.
There are other helpful touches. If you load more than one clip into an iMovie project, for instance, it weaves them together with smooth transitions, and if you add photos, iMovie automatically adds movement to them via the “Ken Burns” panning effect.
You can then add music from your phone’s iTunes library or choose from music and sound effects in one of the several themes offered.
Those themes include Travel, Modern and Bright, among others, and the graphics and sound effects are tailored to the themes. The Travel theme, for instance, includes an upbeat acoustic tune, and the graphics feature a map that pinpoints the place where the video was edited.
Other complications occasionally arose, as when I tried to prevent an opening graphic from appearing throughout the video, but I found that iMovie offers no option for fading out graphics after a specified time. I was forced to create a break (or “splice”) in the video at the point where I wanted the graphics to stop. Then, while adding that break, I somehow deleted an entire scene and couldn’t retrieve it.
I had no such troubles with the iPad version of iMovie, thanks to its “undo” button. When I mistakenly deleted a scene, that button saved me.
Someone later reminded me that by shaking an iPhone you can often prompt an “undo” button to appear on the screen, and this was indeed the case with iMovie. But that advice came too late to save my scene.
Avid Studio is more ambitious than iMovie in the variety of special effects one can weave into a video, like animated titles and animated transitions for video sequences and various typefaces for titles. And it offers a timer so you can move quickly to specific points, which was helpful when working with longer videos.
In other ways, though, it was not as refined as iMovie. When choosing video clips from the device’s camera roll, for instance, I found the thumbnail images slightly blurry, and the video-sampling feature wasn’t as good as it was with iMovie.
And, when I typed titles into the app, it accepted more words than it could ultimately fit on the screen, which led to poor results when I played the full clip.
The app also lacks a voice-over option, which is available on iMovie, and users of the original iPad have left reviews in the App Store complaining that the app often crashes. Avid updated its app on Wednesday to address performance issues.
On Android, Clesh ($5) and VidTrim were far less versatile than either of the Apple apps I tested, but VidTrim was simpler than Clesh.
Clesh required me to register before using it (and it chose its own username and password for me). When I finally opened it, I found the editing features limited and buried in a confusing layout.
VidTrim is much more straightforward, but considerably more limited. Its core feature is a slider that lets users trim a video from either end of a clip. From there, you can save the original version and share the clipped version via e-mail, text, Facebook or YouTube.
This is roughly the same functionality that comes standard in the iPhone’s and iPad’s camera.
Put another way, these apps reveal a window of opportunity big enough for Android app developers to drive a truck through. Android users should expect to see someone exploit that opportunity in time to edit this year’s round of holiday videos.
The New York Times