Archive for July, 2017

My new best iOS video editor

July 24, 2017 Leave a comment

I’ve been on the lookout for a video editor to replace the excellent Clips since Flylabs was bought by Google and their software disappeared.

I only do videos for social use – mainly photo and video montages from events with friends. I rarely use anything over than split/splice/trim, set to a music track. However, I try to build a narrative against the track, which requires:

  • cutting on the beats of the track
  • Switching  scene/location as the verse changes
  • trying to keep the mood of the media fitting with the mood of that part of the track
  • and with the media roughly in chronological order

Hence the app needs to support me editing in that way.

Why I miss Clips

Now – Clips was amazing. Downright amazing. Because it allowed me to view the clips in a scrubber view, allowing me to position the ends of each clip to match the track, yet also allowed me to reorder, trim, and edit the clips in-situ. 

What that mean, is that I could start at the beginning of the song, and work the clips into shape as the song progressed… I’d play a short section, then trim, edit, speed up, re-focus those clips, then replay. It was so fluid and easy to use – Flylabs are geniuses. They must be, as no-one else has replicated that.

However – there is a reasonable second choice. It’s GoPro’s Quik.

Quik is in itself stunning… it will take a bunch of media, a track, and then automatically identify the beats and timing of the track, and automatically cut the clips to fit it. So all the manual work I mention above is done for me (or is it….)

Not only that, but it’ll also apply a theme to the video – not just fonts, but types of filters, transitions, and loads of other good stuff which looks thoroughly professional. If you didn’t have a clear idea of what you wanted to put in your video, you could just take what it churns out, share it, and people would be wowed.
Lack of control

The trouble is, it doesn’t necessarily do some of the things I describe above. It can’t detect the mood of the track… say, take a slowdown, and switch to showing calm evening shots from the collection, and then cut back to action shots when the tempo picks up.

Also, it rarely guesses which parts of a video to clip correctly. For example, for a video of our friends jumping into the pool in slow motion, I would want 2s of the jump starting, 4-5s of us in mid-air in slow motion, and then 3-4s of us splashing down. Quik showed a clip before we started jumping, then a clip of us all vanished under water… not quite right.

So – I need manual control. And, with recent developments in Quik, I’ve found you can get just that.
So, how does Quik capture all those little details that makes it so productive

Ordering photos

So, first, ordering photos. Quik is great here, in that while you can select all of a range, it will also allow you to add photos one at a time, in the order that you add them. This means that you can swipe and down your camera roll, picking out photos in the order that you want to produce them in (which may not necessarily be exactly the same as the true timeline), and Quik will keep that order. Awesome!

Beat cuts

Did I say that Quik automatically times cuts to fit into the beat of the music you selected? Yes? Well, it does that just fine – you won’t need to touch most of those timings. Boo yah!

Video re-trims

That pool-splash video that was all wrong? With Quik, it’s easy to make it right. There are three reasons why.

  • Quick-to-edit: Once you’ve realised that clip is all wrong, you can simply tap it in-situ, and the edit icon pops up. One tap gets you editing the clip, and the re-trim is right there. It also supports all the expected iOS gestures like hold to zoom for a fine edit. You also need to toggle the radio button to force Quik to accept your trimming, rather than its own.
  • Quick-to-duplicate: But wait – I wanted three parts of that clip. I’ve trimmed the first, but how do I get the other two? Well, with Quik, it’s another quick tap to duplicate the clip, with the duplicate appearing right after. You can then tap-to-edit that, and adjust the trimmer to select the second sub-clip you want. Then do it again for the third.
  • Play-from-here: By tapping the clip you’re on, and pressing play on the main video, you can see where that clip now appears in relation to the soundtrack as well as all the other clips. This, you could expect, but it’s the little detail of tapping the clip you just edited, rather than having to move a scrubber to find the relevant position manually, that makes it so quick to use.
  • Drag-to-reorder: Again, to be expected, but works so well. You drag the clips around, hit play, and see what effect it had.

Putting it all together

What the GoPro design team have done here, is sneak in all these little workflow optimisations that just allow you to edit the video to the soundtrack, working from beginning to end, without getting interrupted by niggles along the way. It’s a very hard act to pull off, but they’ve done it.

RIP Clips

But still, it’s not clips. Clips was the best. If you’re a developer and you want an idea for a product, write Clips again. I’ll buy it again. Maybe Google will too.

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