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3 free video editing tools anyone can use – Mobile Edition (Part 1)

3 free video editing tools anyone can use - Mobile edition 1Can you create great video on the go?

Yes, you can!

As more and more people are moving to mobile, companies are producing apps that offer similar functionality to their desktop counterparts. Well, they’ve been doing that for years, but now they’re finally getting to the point where they’re quite good. Good enough for anyone to create a decent video with nothing but their mobile or tablet.

I’ve picked three video editing apps that I’ve taken the time to play with and test out for this blog.  I think they not only produce good video, but do so in a way anyone can use them. I created three videos with virtually the same content (My recent trip to the mCommerce Summit in New York City for fastsms – also owned and operated by NetSecrets) using each of the tools. I purposely tried to do them quickly, so consider them a first draft of sorts. They all could use some text editing and tuning up for sure, but it shows what is possible without much effort.

Since there is so much to say about each app, the blog is divided into the three separate parts. The first part will cover iMovie, the second Adobe Premier Clip, and the third will be WeVideo (plus some extra for good measure). Be sure to come back and read each of them to see which app might be best for you.


One of the most popular free video editors on iOS is iMovie. It works on all Apple devices and is available in the app store (if it isn’t already installed).

I’ve mentioned before how my son loves to make “movies”. He usually is on the computer making animations or Minecraft videos, but lately he’s been cranking out “plushy videos”. These are short little stories he makes up with his Nintendo plush dolls (i.e. Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and friends).

He started out recording them on my iPhone or iPad. Then creating a finished movie using iMovie (I think he calls them movies because he uses i”Movie” to make them!). They usually look quite cool and well done, in part because of iMovie’s Trailer option (which may not sound like a big deal, except my son is 10. Believe me I was surprised how good the videos looked!)

The Trailer option

The Trailer option uses a preset storyboard layout where all you need to do is type in the text you want, add pictures or videos and then watch it through. There are fancy “Hollywood” style templates to use that include the opening production company logos and the final end credits. Here’s my iMovie Trailer example:

All the fancy graphics and introductions are built-in. I used the “Adrenaline” template with the “Street Lamp” logo style. The music is part of the template too. It was easy to create by typing in the text on the storyboard that started each section of the trailer. The timing of the images and video was preset as well, and couldn’t be changed. If you use a video for a section of the storyboard, you can select the segment that would be shown in the time allotted by simply sliding the selector to the point you want to use. If the video has sound, you can also choose to have the sound on, or off.

If you use an image, you can adjust the Ken Burns’ effect pretty easy too (The Ken Burn’s effect makes it look like a still image is moving by panning and zooming over the image). You click on the “start” of the effect, then move or resize the image by dragging and pinching it to where you want it to start. To mark where the effect should end, you do the same after clicking the option “end”.

Other limitations are that you can’t add text to the images/video scenes themselves. Only to the specific text scenes already in place. Of course you could add text with another program and then add that image to the movie, but if you’re doing that chances are you might want something more advanced anyway.

That’s about all you can do with the Trailer option. It’s quick, and looks Hollywood-ish. It could work for many different types of videos though including personal memories (vacations, reunions, wedding, adventures) or even marketing.

The Movie option

The Trailer option is just one way to make movies in iMovie. The second is, very non-descriptly named, “Movie”. And if you want a bit more control, you’ll want to create using the Movie option.

When you select the Movie option you have to choose a template. But after that you get dumped into a timeline mode so you can add images and video, adjust the timing of each, add text, sound and set the speed. You can also split, detach or duplicate a video clip from the timeline.

You can add sound as well, either from the built in selection or your music library. There is even a good selection of sound effects to give your video more oomph!

It’s also possible to “pull” the audio out of an existing video clip. This is called “detaching”. It’s pretty cool. You can size and edit the audio now as a separate clip. You can also layer it over the whole video. The ability to do layers in a timeline this way is close to what you’d get in a desktop version.

There’re also different options for the text you add. Actually nine different options. The text can fade in or out, enter from the side, slowly disappear from the bottom… you get the idea. While there doesn’t seem to be a way to change the text colour, you can change the hue of the image or video you put the text on. But the text is always white. You can choose to centre the text, or have it in the lower left corner.

The clip controls are a bit clunky. You have to use your finger to slide the controls for sizing or splitting clips which isn’t that precise. And the timeline isn’t exactly like what you’d find in a full version on a desktop. It works well enough, provided you don’t require absolute precision in the timing.

Once you’ve created your video masterpiece, you probably want to put it somewhere people can see it. To do that you click on the paper with the up arrow (universal “send” icon) to see your choices. Depending what you have installed on your device you’ll get different options: email, save to Dropbox, iMovie theater, iCloud Drive, Facebook, or any number of others.

You can save it to your device, then post it or send it another method. Saving to Dropbox works well too (assuming you have the room – I didn’t!). I actually sent mine to iCloud Drive and then downloaded it onto my computer later. From there I could place it anywhere I wanted (here on the blog for example via YouTube).

All of which brings me to the technical details of the file. The video is exported in .mov format which is Apple’s proprietary QuickTime format. It works pretty much everywhere though. But if you need more control over the encoding options, you’ll have to import the file into another program to make your changes.

You can also export the iMovie project, and then edit the project in iMovie on a Mac. The full program offers many other export format options.

If you’re interested in seeing another example of what iMovie can do, take a look at the product page here. Just below the first sample image are the words “See a film shot on iPhone 6s and edited with iMovie for iOS”. Just below that is a link to “Watch in HD”. Scroll slowly so you don’t miss it because the video itself isn’t embedded in the page.

In the next blog…

iMovie offers some good features for editing on a mobile device, with some limitations too. But there are other apps. In the next blog I’ll cover Adobe Premiere Clip in detail. So come back in a couple of days to read all about it.

Oliver Burt

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