August 10, 2015 Andrew Walker

Our Favourite Editing Apps

Just look at that pic. A cute “Indie” template on an iPad. Fees like the death of cinema doesn’t it? We’ve all heard the phrase “there’s an app for that” and it often makes creative types groan and roll their eyes. In the professional media production scene you’ll meet designers who can’t live without the full Adobe CC suite, editors and effects teams that won’t work without Final Cut Pro, Maya and plus a room full of high powered workstations. The conventional wisdom is apps for editing and creating moving images are just for fun, not serious professionals… right? But hang on a second. That’s not really true, is it? When you stop to think about it, some great works of TV and cinema have been cut using cheap 8mm and 16mm ciné cameras and scotch tape, which were the low-end apps of filmmaking back in the day.

For a HYPEREAL filmmaker, working with a low/no budget and the kit they’ve got to hand (their smartphone or a cheap home HD camcorder), the app is the only choice. So here’s a few decent bits of cheap kit to help you find a low-end, easily accessible solution to editing your HYPEREAL masterpiece. And if you hadn’t thought of editing on a phone or tablet, why not? If you’re making a 15-45 minute mini-feature it’s a real possibility. But realistically, you’ll want to do it on your laptop, so we’ve got a few suggestions for those too.

The thing to remember is when you make a low/no budget HYPEREAL film, you’ll probably find no single package does everything you want, so consider getting a combo of free tools to get an editing workflow that handles the process from managing raw footage through to trimming clips and compositing it all together. Here’s a few suggestions to get you underway:

1. iMovie (desktop & iPhone / iPad). Okay, okay, we know it’s just for Mac users, which means you’ve stumped-up your “Apple Tax” to buy an expensive PC in a sharp aluminium suit, but seriously, this is a great piece of kit for editing. It’s staple video editing software for iOS, it lets the user splice together footage that they’ve captured on their Apple phone or tablet to create a cohesive film – like all video editing software – but the way it works is reliable and intuitive. It’s great for HYPEREAL because it’s so good at organising lots of clips (which comes with the territory as you edit the story from actors self-shot footage) and overlaying soundtracks and audio. It’s also got really accurate frame-by-frame cutting abilities and loads of output options. It’s an obvious choice but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good one.
2. Windows Movie Maker. Another obvious choice, but it might surprise you to learn that Windows Movie Maker is one of the best free video editing applications out there and certainly the most popular one on the market. That’s right, not every creative in the world uses a Mac. It’s designed with simplicity in mind and all users have to do is drag a selection of video clips and/or photos over to the app and they will immediately be displayed in the order they were added. It’s not quite as polished or flexible as iMovie for trimming or grading footage, but it’s close enough for HYPEREAL.

3. Avidemux. At first this might seem like a strange choice, but it’s a very capable open source video editor which is good for joining clips, trimming (without re-encoding), and good for grading clips to get consistent colour, contrast and white balance. While this sounds basic, we love the belt-and-braces simplicity of it. There are lots of options and fine controls to help make sure everything goes as you expect, and an excellent online wiki which documents everything. Like all opensource tools, you need to get to know how it all works, but if you’re working on a PC with Windows Movie Maker, this will help get the fine control you might feel is missing.

4. Androvid. One for Android users this app is very useful it comes to trimming/splitting your clips. Androvid’s Pro version is where the app really comes alive. Offering video flip features, various soundtracking capabilities and more visual effects, it’s not quite as good as the iOS version of iMovie, but very useful all the same.

5. Lightworks. This one was a tricky recommendation to make. It’s a high end tool that sucks up memory and chews up your processor power. It’s also a bit buggy if you get the free one, for PC or Mac. But it’s extremely capable and quite often used in Hollywood studios for its powerful trimming, timeline layers, clip management and so on. It’s got a decent (if complex) UX and if iMovie feels a bit limited for you, this is a good choice. But be warned, if you don’t have a powerful machine, it can ruin your day by crashing if you push it too far.

6. VivaVido This is a hugely popular Android App with some serious features if you’re editing on a mobile device. It’s impressive in the way it has virtual ‘camera lenses’ to give your video an Instagram style lens effect, which isn’t really what HYPEREAL is all about but could be okay if you use the same lens effect to grade your footage as you shoot it. It comes with a load of pre-built templates and junk that all apps seem to bundle in with their functions, but beneath it all lies a reliable and useful editor if you’re working on a mobile.

7. Davinci Resolve Lite. This app for Mac & PC is a must have to colour correct and grade footage. It’s similar in some respects to Avidemux, but designed specifically to process clips into a state where they’re ready for an edit. It also has non-linear editing (if you like that sort of thing) and can produce finished films. It takes a bit of getting used to but is undeniably worth a look.

8. Movie Edit Touch 2. If you have a Windows Phone or a Surface tablet this is the equivalent of iMovie. It’s actually a really capable program, with better controls than Windows Movie Maker too. If you’ve selected a Windows Mobile device for your HYPEREAL project, this is a no-brainer (and also about the only decent app available too.)

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Obviously these are just a handful of the tools we’ve seen working in HYPEREAL Studios projects. And ultimately, whatever works for you is the best choice. It’s not a tough decision to find a set-up that’s good for HYPEREAL because the emphasis is on great storytelling and believable acting, not high end software. However, remember that to get the right look and feel for a HYPEREAL film you’ll want to be able to grade and colour correct clips, you’ll want fine controls over trimming clips, decent audio sound track layering functionality and the ability to output finished projects with options for resolution, compression and so on. Not all of the above are good for every aspect of the film editing process, but between them (or the free platforms you’ve selected for yourself) you’ll find a combo that works for you.

This is a great time to be working in low/no budget filmmaking. So get filmmaking…