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3 free video editing tools anyone can use – Mobile Edition (Part 2)

3 free video editing tools anyone can use - Mobile edition 2So you’ve checked out using iMovie on your device and want to look at another option? Maybe you’ve got an Android device and need something different.

In Part 2 of this 3 free video editing tools anyone can use series, I’ll be doing an in-depth review of Adobe Premier Clip. It’s available on both iOS and Android. If you haven’t read Part 1 – all about iMovie – you may want to do that first as I do make some comparisons between the two apps. You can find the iMovie blog here.

Adobe Premier Clip

As great as iMovie can be, not everyone uses iOS. In fact, over 80% of mobile devices ran Android at the end of 2015 according to Gartner. That huge market share means there are tons of apps available, even more than on the Apple app store. But having more doesn’t mean that they are all good.

Searching through the choices, I chose to include Adobe Premiere Clip in this blog. First off, it’s free, which is a prerequisite for a blog about free apps. Second of all, it’s from Adobe and not some new to the app game company that might disappear before its first update. And third, it has a lot of capability for editing video.

To use it though, you will need a free Adobe account. The app will prompt you to sign in, or to create an account. The rest of what follows is based on my account, which is a paid account (I subscribe to their Creative Cloud services). But I didn’t see anything to indicate a free-only account would provide any less capability.

Automatic

Similar to iMovie’s Trailer mode, Premier Clip offers an Automatic option. It takes the images and video you select and generates a video synched to a music track it selects. It does a pretty good job of choosing an upbeat track for fast action. Thankfully though, you can change the track and use a song from your library or choose one from the built-in themes. They actually provide a large selection of music.

If you decided to change the sequence of the images you added, it’s a simple drag and drop to rearrange them. You can set the pace of the video as well by selecting the metronome icon which then opens a slider control. You can’t manually set the timing though. You can go faster or slower only within the preset range.

The Automatic mode is certainly quick and it’s cool how it aligns the images and the music to move together. But there isn’t any way to add text, title slides, or manage the video you included (like to clip or split it).

Freeform Editor

If you decide you want more options, you can convert the Automatic video into a Freeform Editor with the tap of a button. Or alternatively you could select the Freeform Editor when you first start editing. The format still looks a lot like a storyboard format – and it is really because there is no timeline per se. But more on how it works in a bit.

To create the sample below, I used the Freeform Editor – after playing around with the Automatic first (remember this is virtually the same content as the iMovie example, though rearranged a bit). When you start a new video in Freeform, you select the images or video clips you want to use. These can be from your device, from the camera, files you may have on the Creative Cloud (more on this in a bit) or the Lightroom app (again, more on this later).

 

You can also choose to add a “New Title”. This inserts a blank image with placeholder words on it. You enter the text you want, select the text color, and the background color. Those are all your choices. There is no way to add a background picture or effect. You can’t add text to any of the video clips or images you’ve included in the project either. So much like iMovie’s Trailer option, if you want text you’ll be restricted to text only slides (but without the cool animations and effects iMovie lets you choose).

So while the text options are limited, you’ve got a lot more control over the image or video clips. You can split, clip, or change the duration of any video. If that video has sound, you can choose to play the sound or not, set the volume if it plays, auto adjust the volume to be at a consistent level, and fade the audio in or out. You can also duplicate a video clip or image.

Also similar to iMovie are the controls for clipping, splitting or timing. You have to drag using your fingers, without any real reference to a timeline. It isn’t possible to be precise at all.

For images, there is the option of using “Motion”. This is a simple term Adobe uses for the Ken Burns effect. It’s turned on by default, but if there is a way to control it I couldn’t find it. It appears to simply zoom in on the center of the image. If you want the effect to zoom in on the logo at the top left of a webpage image, you can’t. Depending on the composition of your images, you might do better turning Motion off. But to be fair, there isn’t that much motion. There is very little zoom in the zoom!

The last feature I’ll mention is the ability to turn clips into storycards. This lets you plan and arrange a video before you take it. Once you’re ready, you use the camera on the device from directly within the app to add video or images. So you could create a project with just title slides, add text describing each scene as a placeholder, then choose “Turn into Storycard”. You’ll basically have a digital storyboard of your video planned out.

On each storycard there is a camera icon. If you click on it, you’ll be prompted to take your images or video right there and then. When you’re done, the image or video automatically appears in place of the storycard.

The final step would be to export your video. You’ve got several options including directly publishing to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. You can also save to the camera roll. This option exports the video in .mov format (just like iMovie). I don’t know if the default is .mov, or I got that format because I’m on iOS. Adobe’s help documents don’t specify the format for the camera roll export.

They do however, offer the option to export it to Premier Pro or save to the Creative Cloud for further editing. It’s clear actually, that they want users to sign up for their paid services, including Lightroom and Premier Pro (their desktop video editing software). To make the point, the end of every video exported from the app shows the Adobe Premier Clip logo. You can’t see this logo while editing. It’s added when the video is exported.

Fortunately, there is the option to turn this off in the preferences – but this is an app wide setting that isn’t obvious if you don’t look for it first. If you want to see more samples of what the app can do, there are some available on the Adobe product page. Just scroll down the page until you see “Made with Clip”.

In the next blog…

Adobe Premiere Clip has some great features for making a video on the go. But like iMovie it also has its limitations. Certainly if you are part of the Adobe Creative Cloud universe it’s an easy choice to use it because of the integration.

In the next blog, the final one in this series, I’ll cover the WeVideo app. I’ll also wrap up with a selection of alternatives in case none of the three I choose for the blog suit your needs. So come back in a couple of days to see more about mobile video editing apps.

Oliver Burt

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