4 Free Video Editing Apps for Your Smartphone

Once upon a time, the only way to master the art of video editing was packing and moving to Hollywood. And than computer software, such as Final Cut Pro, opened the door for young filmmakers to craft their masterpieces on a desktop.

Today, you don’t have to limit yourself to a desk. You can shoot and craft a mini-documentary within a few minutes of almost anywhere in the world using a video-editing app on your smartphone.

There are many free options available to you, including a number that most of the work for you. You simply choose the clips, photos, and a soundtrack of your phone into the archives and let them go to work.

Let others create the kind of hands-on creative decisions once reserved for Orson Welles, Stanley Kubrick, and other film legends.

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Here is what I learned when I recently tried four free video editing apps.

Magisto (iOS and Android)

This app is one of the easiest to use (although the interface is a bit messy), and it generates videos that are fun to watch. You will not be able to a lot of manual operations, though, unless you spring for the $10 per month Magisto for Business.

To create a video with the free version, you follow these six steps of the process:

  • Press the “Video” button.
  • Choose the clips and photos that you want to include the library on your phone.
  • Choose one of the 25 editing styles.
  • Select a song to serve as the soundtrack.
  • Add a title.
  • Click on the “My Movie!” button.
  • Just like that you have a video you can upload to your favorite social media site.

    Adobe Premiere Clip (iOS and Android)

    The Adobe Premiere Clip app gives you more manual control than Magisto.

    When you open a project, click on a plus icon and choose the clips, photos and music that you want to use. After that, you get two options: Automatic or Free-form. As the name already says, the first setting generates the video for you, synchronizing the pace of the images to the rhythm of the soundtrack. If you want, you can then change the pacing, the soundtrack, or the order of the clips.

    The Free setting allows you to trim the clips, add titles, apply filters, and adjust the volume. You can even change the speed of the individual video clips and edit it using the slider controls that are marked as Exposure, Highlights and Shadows.

    You can’t, however, the speed of the clips. And you only get one way to transition from scene to scene: the Crossfade.

    There is a nice extra, though. The app integrates well with the Adobe feature-laden Premiere Pro CC computer software. That means that you can transfer the file that you have edited with adobe Premiere Clip to a laptop and import it into Premiere Pro for more detailed edits.

    Apple iMovie (iOS)

    iMovie you can get even more detailed operations. After placing your video, photos, music and clips on a virtual timeline, you can easily extend or shorten the duration of each scene to achieve the effect that you want. A wide selection of soundtracks and transition tools help you stitch things together. And the app offers cool Ken Burns-like animation effects to your photos and text to life.

    Want to slowly zoom in on a detail to tell in an old photo? No problem. Fast zoom? You can do that, too.

    In the iMovie Projects section, you can have a Hollywood-like trailer with the help of one of the 14 templates based on themes such as “Scary” and “Romance.”

    And if you need help with the control of the app’s tools, click the question mark at the top of almost every screen, and the light with the text with notes of the important functions and settings.

    When you have finished editing, save your project in the app of the Theatre section. If you have an iCloud account, you can also stow it for viewing on a Apple laptop or tablet.

    GoPro Splice (iOS)

    GoPro has two video editing apps. Splice, you can do more manual editing. In fact, it offers many of the same video, picture, text and filter tools with iMovie.

    But it also has a few nice extras worth noting, including the ability to adjust the duration of the photos, the animations, and the ability to choose from several colors for the video’s background. You can also use the default settings in order to shorten or lengthen the clips, change transitions, and tweak the animation effects.

    I especially liked the large variety of soundtracks. The app even allows you to add a second track of the project, which is useful if you want to introduce the story.

    You can make use of multiple audio tracks on iMovie, but GoPro makes it easier to do this at the Splice. That said, I have a small problem with the app. The video link of the e-mailed me not on my Google Chrome browser. I had to play it in the clip on a Safari in the place.

    Bottom Line

    One of the nice things about using an app such as this on your telephone is that you don’t have to worry about the transfer of video clips from the camera to a computer and then remembering where you stored them. Everything you need is there on the device.

    In fact, while I appreciate the full scope of the editing of the options that are available on the computer software, I was impressed by how quick and easy it was to make and post a movie with these apps.

    Better yet, all offered simple ways to share the finished masterpiece with friends via websites such as Facebook and YouTube, or a URL that can be distributed via e-mail.

    Just keep in mind that all apps collect data about users, which can be used for marketing and shared with third parties. To protect your privacy, you might want to go to the settings menu on your phone and limit the data the app has access to. Remove apps that you no longer use.

    Copyright © 2005-2017 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission. Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this site.

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