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Video Editing Made Easy Free Tools to Edit Video on mobile devices

By Olga Kyle

Once you shoot your video on your smartphone, you have two choices - edit it directly on your phone or download and edit video on your computer. Some platforms provide both mobile apps and computer-based editing and provide cloud-based integration for your devices. In other words, you can start your project on the phone, continue on your computer, and share finished projects from your phone.

Below are 7 apps for editing. Find the one that fits your situation and dive in, or explore them all and find one that works for you. Then rejoin the presentation where we get to the nitty-gritty of actual editing.

Computer editing options

Editing on the computer is the classic editing choice, and I'll be honest - my favorite.

If you decide to download video from your phone to the computer, you will have more editing software options and more control, including the use of professional-level software. Most professional editing apps also include cloud integration that allows you to work on the same project from several devices. If you're seriously interested in editing, you could consider buying a monthly subscription for Adobe Premiere Pro ($19.99 per month, or try it out free for 7 days). Premiere Pro runs on both Mac and PC computers. Or you could purchase Apple's Final Cut Pro X.

If you have a Mac, most likely you already have iMovie (if not, download it from the App Store). This is a great app for editing on your computer, and there is also an iOS version (see below).

iOS, Android, other platforms options

Why bother with editing on the phone at all? Because once you learn how to do it, it will be easy and fast. You will be able to share more videos, and you will do it in style. As technology improves, there is more and more consumer hunger and need for video content, so learning how to use simple, easily accessible tools will improve your chances on getting your work done faster, with as little as your smartphone and web access.

Here is the projected growth for mobile video. Impressive, isn't it?

Most smartphone camera apps allow to trim your videos at the ends, enhance color/contrast, apply filters, change speed, and even add some text and markup elements. If you have an iOS device (iPhone or iPad), you're lucky to have several video editing choices.

If you have Windows 10 on your device, Photos app offers built-in video editing options.

If you're using iOS, the best choices to try are Apple native apps: Clips or iMovie .

For other mobile platforms, you can use third-party apps. Some of them are free, but in many cases you do get what you pay for. There are also great online options that allow you to edit video through your web browser. For this class, I'd like you to explore some of the free video editing options, but if you see something you'd like to buy, or you already have an app that you like - you're welcome to use it.

iMovie (iOS and Mac OS)

iMovie app is available for iPhone, iPad, and for computers as well. To get started with iMovie, here is an excellent beginners guide from MacWorld UK. You can move your clips and your projects from the phone to your computer, and back. You can add and edit layers of video, audio, and graphics, adjust sound, color, add still images, and more. The app also integrates with Apple's professional video editing tool - Final Cut Pro.

Clips (iOS)

Apple Clips is another excellent choice. The app offers everything you need to record, or use previously recorded clips, trim and stitch together your video, add subtitles and even flashy graphics and filters. You could also automatically generate captions as you speak while recording your video. Did you know that most people prefer watching videos on social media without sound? Yes, the subtitles feature could really help! Clips offers an easy solution for making your videos accessible to everyone.

Here is a step-by-step guide on Getting Started with Clips, and here is a short help video as well:

If you use other mobile platforms (Android, Windows, Blackberry, etc.), then try one the apps from this list. Or try video editing options via a web browser. Let's take a look at some options.

Adobe Spark Video (iOS and web browsers)

Adobe Spark Video - available via your web browser, or an iOS app, offers a free version. Here is a good step-by-step guide on getting started. Remember, you will only be using YOUR OWN VIDEO for this class, no stock video or free photos, please! You may add text or icons, or music if you like, but no stock videos and photos.

Adobe Premiere Rush (iOS, MacOS, Windows)

Take a look at this brand new product, Adobe Premiere Rush. Premiere Rush offers a limited free version - you can create as many projects as you want, but you can only export 3 free videos. Here is how to get started with Rush.

Adobe Premiere Clips

There is also an older mobile version of Rush: Adobe Premiere Clips is available in both Apple App Store and Google Play. You can create a free Creative Cloud account, edit and save your videos on your phone or in the Cloud and sync with the professional editing app, Adobe Premiere Pro if you have it on your computer. Here is the video on how it works:

More options: Instagram (smartphone apps)

Some of the video sharing platforms allow for basic trimming, enhancements and text elements editing. In Instagram, for example, you can record video directly in the app, or you could upload previously recorded clips from your phone's Library (Gallery). After you add a clip, click on Trim option and then you can trim the clips, as well as add additional clips to include in your video. Take a look at Instagram's Support Section to learn how to edit video in this app.

Instagram: You can add several clips to combine in one video, and you can trim the clips by dragging at the ends.

Instagram allows sharing short videos - up to 60 sec. If you have a long video, you would need to start using IGTV - a newer video-only channel on Instagram. Check out the Support Center to see how it works. Keep in mind that IGTV only allows vertical videos. Currently, you can only access video uploads and trimming features through the app, not your computer.

If you upload videos through YouTube, you can access basic video editing and captioning features through your web browser on the computer. iOS app also offers a limited set of video editing features.

Are there any editing rules to follow?

I'm so glad you asked! Why, of course there are rules. Video storytelling has many purposes, and each purpose has its own set rules, techniques and editing styles. It's just like grammar, style and punctuation we use to write stories with images instead of words.

We will not discuss these in detail in this class, but click on each of the slides below and read about the main video editing rules. Next time you're watching a movie, you will definitely start noticing how these rules were used.

Take a look at these main video editing rules.
And here is some editing advice:

Brace yourself

Editing takes time. Believe me when I say it: It takes MORE time than you think. It goes like this: 10 percent of editing time:

  • You decide on how you will structure your story.
  • You pick your two strongest shots for the open and close.
  • Then you you select the best parts of the interviews to use in the story and edit all of this together.
  • Add more video to go with the interviews.

90 percent of editing time: You try to make it better.

Be ready to spend some quality time with your project if you want good results, no matter how short your project is. Actually, it takes more time to create short projects.

Pace yourself

Someone I know spent a year on his documentary. Released it and got an Emmy Award for it. At the ceremony, he watched his 5-min. doc again. With the Emmy in his hand, he ran back to his computer, and spent the rest of the night re-editing it because he suddenly saw how to cut almost 40 sec. out of it. Shorter is stronger.

Starting and closing with strong video is important, and so is finding the right storytelling pace. It's almost like finding a pulse in your story and cutting the scenes and sequences to match that heartbeat. Every story will call for a different pacing. Is it an action-based, fast changing video with 1 sec.-long shots? Or is it a story that needs to be told slowly, with cross-dissolves between the shots, Ken Burns pans and zooms, and 6 sec.-long shots? Or does the story slow down in some places and picks up in others? Find the right pace for your video. Take your time to make it shorter by keeping it tight.

Break the rules

Editing is an invisible art. The cuts that you make, the effects you use should not distract the viewers from the main thing - the story. Calling attention to what you can do as an editor ("Hey, watch this, people: I can use this cool circular wipe, and animated text, and a key-framed filter!") is a bad idea. Don't do fancy editing stuff just because you can.

My colleagues gave me a t-shirt that says "Edit Responsibly." And believe me, I do. So here is my advice: Learn the rules, then break them. Do this only when the story calls for it, because breaking a rule is a more effective way to tell the story.

Here is an example. Earlier, we talked about shooting sequences to condense time. Sequences also help us to follow one of the fundamental rules of video editing: Avoid Jump Cuts. Jump Cut is something that happens when you break visual continuity, it's disorienting to the viewers. It's a rookie mistake, and there are several techniques to avoid it. Watch this video to learn more:

But sometimes this is exactly the effect you want to create. Before you go casting the jump cut as the villain in your next flick, consider its advantages. Jump cuts can be used to show the passing of time, or for a comedic effect, or to speed up a sequence. Casey Neistat often uses them in his videos to speed up sequences. Breaking a rule on purpose and consistently, leads to a whole new style of storytelling. Like this dreamy, long, scenic piece, built mostly on jump cuts.

The only rule you can't break is this: Do not bore your viewers. Everything else is pretty much up to you.

That's all. Go on, edit some creative stuff now. I look forward to watching it!