Shoot, edit and publish on your smartphone

by Peter Griffin / 05 May, 2016
If you have a smartphone, editing amateur video has never been so simple.
Keep the promise: video apps make for quick editing of that wedding video. Photo/Getty Images/Listener illustration
Keep the promise: video apps make for quick editing of that wedding video. Photo/Getty Images/Listener illustration

I call them my greatest unreleased hits – videos ­shot all over the world I’ve never quite got around to editing into the short films I ­imagined when I hit record.

I have hours of footage of the ancient Roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Ephesus.

I have clips from at least two weddings awaiting assembly into the videos I promised the brides and grooms – over five years ago. In summary, I’m great at shooting, terrible at finishing, videos.

The problem is that video editing can be a real grind, literally. It paralyses underpowered com­puters. It can be fiddly and time consuming. It is no wonder then that a lot of videos end up like mine – unseen and gathering dust.

All of that is changing, thanks to the smartphone.

A number of apps have decluttered the ­video- editing experience and made it easy and even enjoyable for amateur shooters to quickly edit together a collection of video clips, add effects and transitions and upload them directly to social media networks.

The latest generation of smartphones, such as Apple’s retro-looking iPhone SE or the Samsung S7, make for respectable video cameras and have more than enough processing power to happily handle real-time editing and rendering of high-definition video.

Traditionally you had to transfer the clips from your video camera to your computer and use a video-editing programme such as Adobe Premiere, Apple iMovie or Microsoft Movie Maker to piece it all together. No longer.

Clip, the new free app version of Premiere, iMovie on the iPhone and iPad and a host of other apps, allow you to tap the screen of your phone, select files from your phone camera’s image and video library and pull in music and sound effects at the press of a button.

Most of them are centred on the classic video-editing timeline, which lays out your clips in a linear fashion and lets you drag and place in and out points, tweak colour levels and add effects and titles. Some let you automate the process entirely, which can have quirky results.

Yes, there’s much more functionality in the desktop versions of these types of apps. But there’s simplicity in editing video on the phone that propels you towards actually publishing something. It’s easy to kill some time on the bus tweaking a video, whereas sitting down in front of your desktop to attack your timeline feels too much like work.

We are now used to ­watching short video clips on ­Facebook or ­YouTube. Posting a series of short clips for friends and family is more likely to engage them than one long home movie anyway.

So, if you’re a complete amateur, forget the dedicated video camera. Just shoot and edit your footage on your smartphone. And if you really want it to look slick, do a first cut on the phone, then transfer the file to your computer for polishing in a desktop-editing suite.


WeVideo: A simple and easy-to-learn editing tool for the smartphone, with a cloud-based version you can use in a web browser. Does the basics very well, though slightly stingy when it comes to publishing, allowing only five minutes of published video per month with the free version. (Free, iOS, android, web)

iMovie: The go-to editing app for iPhone and iPad users is impressive in the way it takes the best of the desktop version, but adapts it for ease of use on the phone. Choose from templates or free form your own edits. Great if you want to start editing projects on the phone and finish them at home. ($7.49, iOS)

Adobe Premiere Clip: Designed to tempt you into Adobe’s world of high-end video production, but perfectly useful as a free editing app designed for speed over functionality. (Free, iOS, android)

Splice: Totally free and remarkably powerful, one of the best video-editing apps to grace the iPhone. Splice has just been bought by GoPro, which could see a welcome splicing of great software and the iconic rugged camera. (Free, iOS)

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