Tap­ping your in­ner Spiel­berg

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TECHNOLOGY - By BOB TEDESCHI

MOVIE-EDIT­ING soft­ware is prob­a­bly among the most un­der­used tech­nolo­gies on the con­sumer mar­ket. Pow­er­ful pro­grams like Adobe’s Pre­miere and Ap­ple’s imovie of­ten come pre­in­stalled on desk­top com­put­ers, but many peo­ple never use them. Mo­bile soft­ware could change that. Apps like Vidtrim (free on An­droid), Avid Stu­dio for ipad (US$5 or RM15.50) and the mo­bile ver­sion of imovie (US$5 or RM15.50 on Ap­ple) are less am­bi­tious than the desk­top pro­grams, so they’re eas­ier to learn. And with mo­bile de­vices quickly re­plac­ing cam­corders, you can shoot, edit and share your video with oth­ers within a few min­utes.

I found imovie the eas­i­est and most ver­sa­tile video-edit­ing app for Ap­ple prod­ucts. Peo­ple who own both iphones and ipads can buy imovie once, and it’ll work on both de­vices.

The app is de­signed for peo­ple who want to shoot and im­me­di­ately edit and ex­port their videos, with­out fuss­ing with too many post­pro­duc­tion spe­cial ef­fects. It is slightly dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand at first, but there are a few tricks that can help flat­ten the learn­ing curve.

Start­ing with imovie

The first trick is find­ing the tu­to­rial. imovie in­cludes no help but­ton on pages where you’re edit­ing video, which of course is where you’ll most likely seek help. In­stead, the fa­mil­iar ques­tion mark but­ton ap­pears only on the home page.

That tu­to­rial, which is also on­line, is well worth pe­rus­ing be­fore you start a project, since it high­lights fea­tures you might oth­er­wise over­look.

The ba­sics are sim­ple enough. You can load mul­ti­ple clips and pho­tos from your Ap­ple mo­bile de­vice’s cam­era roll into a sin­gle “project” and drag and drop them into your pre­ferred se­quence.

imovie does a great job of pre­sent­ing your cam­era roll’s con­tents. Thumb­nail images ex­pand so you can sam­ple video clips be­fore choos­ing what you like.

There are other help­ful touches. If you load more than one clip into an imovie project, for in­stance, it weaves them to­gether with smooth tran­si­tions, and if you add pho­tos, imovie au­to­mat­i­cally adds move­ment to them via the “Ken Burns” pan­ning ef­fect.

You can then add mu­sic from your phone’s itunes li­brary or choose from mu­sic and sound ef­fects in one of the sev­eral themes of­fered.

Those themes in­clude Travel, Mod­ern and Bright, among oth­ers, and the graph­ics and sound ef­fects are tai­lored to the themes. The Travel theme, for in­stance, in­cludes an up­beat acous­tic tune, and the graph­ics fea­ture a map that pin­points the place where the video was edited.

Other com­pli­ca­tions oc­ca­sion­ally arose, as when I tried to pre­vent an open­ing graphic from ap­pear­ing through­out the video, but I found that imovie of­fers no op­tion for fading out graph­ics af­ter a spec­i­fied time. I was forced to cre­ate a break (or “splice”) in the video at the point where I wanted the graph­ics to stop.

Then, while adding that break, I some­how deleted an en­tire scene and couldn’t re­trieve it.

I had no such trou­bles with the ipad ver­sion of imovie, thanks to its crit­i­cally im­por­tant “undo” but­ton. When I mis­tak­enly deleted a scene, that but­ton saved me. Some­one later re­minded me that by shak­ing an iphone you can of­ten prompt an “undo” but­ton to ap­pear on the screen, and this was in­deed the case with imovie. But that ad­vice came too late to save my lost scene.

Al­ter­na­tives for IOS

Avid Stu­dio is more am­bi­tious than imovie in the va­ri­ety of spe­cial ef­fects one can weave into a video, like an­i­mated ti­tles and an­i­mated tran­si­tions for video se­quences and var­i­ous type­faces for ti­tles. And it of­fers a timer so you can move quickly to spe­cific points, which was help­ful when work­ing with longer videos.

In other ways, though, it was not as re­fined as imovie. When choos­ing video clips from the de­vice’s cam­era roll, for in­stance, I found the thumb­nail images slightly blurry, and the video-sam­pling fea­ture wasn’t as good as it was with imovie.

And, when I typed ti­tles into the app, it ac­cepted more words than it could ul­ti­mately fit on the screen, which led to poor re­sults when I played the full clip.

The app also lacks a voice-over op­tion, which is avail­able on imovie, and users of the orig­i­nal ipad have left re­views in the App Store com­plain­ing that the app of­ten crashes.

An­droid op­tions

On An­droid, Clesh (US$5 or RM15.50) and Vidtrim were far less ver­sa­tile than ei­ther of the Ap­ple apps I tested, but Vidtrim was sim­pler than Clesh. Clesh re­quired me to reg­is­ter be­fore us­ing it (and it chose its own user­name and pass­word for me). When I fi­nally opened it, I found the edit­ing fea­tures limited and buried in a con­fus­ing lay­out.

Vidtrim is much more straight­for­ward, but con­sid­er­ably more limited. Its core fea­ture is a slider that lets users trim a video from ei­ther end of a clip. From there, you can save the orig­i­nal ver­sion and share the clipped ver­sion via email, text, Face­book or Youtube.

This is roughly the same func­tion­al­ity that comes stan­dard in the iphone’s and ipad’s cam­era.

Put an­other way, these apps re­veal a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity big enough for An­droid app de­vel­op­ers to drive a truck through. An­droid users should ex­pect to see some­one ex­ploit that op­por­tu­nity in time to edit this year’s round of hol­i­day videos. — NYT

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