Trying out Android video editing apps

Early this year I started to use my smartphone to shoot video. I also thought it would be convenient to use a tablet to do the editing, especially when travelling. (Back home I use Sony Vegas to edit my videos.) But it turned out to be quite a challenge to find a decent Android video editing application.

In the Apple world there are a few choices for, I am told, decent video editing on an iPad or perhaps even on an iPhone: Pinnacle Studio’s video editing app and perhaps Apple’s own iMovie. But they only exist on iOS, not on Android.

I started the hunt.

Hospices de Beaune sign, Le Bas des Teurons, Beaune, Cote de Beaune, Burgundy, France

Hospices de Beaune sign, Le Bas des Teurons, Beaune, Cote de Beaune, Burgundy, France

It is not easy to know what to choose. There are many video editing apps out there but much of it is not necessarily useful. Much of it is actually pure junk.

What I want is the possibility to

  • put together a complete (short) video from multiple clips
  • add some sound
  • render HD (preferably 1080p) video
  • work locally on the device and not in the cloud (it must work without an internet connection)
  • preferably the possibility to do some adjustments
  • basic functions like trimming, cutting, and simple transitions

What I do not want is, for example:

  • “Fun” or fancy effects or various silly “themes”
  • Video editing in the cloud
  • Video editing that stores my video in the cloud
  • “automatic” video

So I decided to try a few. I copied a few raw videos to a folder that I created on my android tablet and started to test them.

Here are my initial reactions.

Many of the apps fell foul of what I do not want. Many apps were “fun” apps for people who want an app that automatically does something “amusing” with their clips. A bit like Instagram for videos. That was not what I wanted.

Testing video editing apps on Android tablets

Here are my comments:

(Android) Video Maker Pro

I create a new project and “add” two clips. They call it “import”.

I select the files I want to use for the video. The app responds “the video clip download was started, you will be notified when they’re ready”. Then nothing happens. 5 minutes. 10 minutes… Noting happens. What “download”?

FAIL. Useless.

Perhaps it will work better if I shoot the video on the device so that it appears in Gallery. But that’s not how I want to work. I want to shoot on a smartphone, transfer the files to the tablet, and then edit on the tablet.

I simply can’t get it to load my videos.

I read somewhere that this was an independent continuation of the no longer existing Google android video editor. Don’t know if that’s true.

Magisto (Magical Video Editor)

Several FAILS with this application:

  • It “automatically” edits my videos by choosing the most interesting parts. Come on! Is that what you call video editing app? Buy the premium service and you can edit “longer” movies. Longer means more than 2.5 minutes.
  • To edit, it uploads the videos to the Magisto site. A) I want to edit off-line. B) I don’t want to have my videos on this Magisto site. I want to have them where I decide to have them.
  • Cumbersome interface with no editing capabilities.

Totally worthless.

VidTrim

As one could guess, no video editing capabilities. Basically just for trimming. You can also make a screen grab and some other smaller manipulations, like saving in different formats. You cannot merge two videos.

FAIL

AndroMedia Video Editor

Extremely slow to launch.

In the PlayStore description is says that it is “designed for phones” so perhaps it is no good on a tablet? First time I started it the app launched a browser window with the message “your android device is infected, click OK to scan your device” from an unknown URL. Is this perhaps a malicious app?

You can actually compose a video by selecting several clips. You can crop and trim the clips and you can select transitions.

But there is no way you can preview the video without rendering the full project.

And it does not render 1080.

VideoEdit+

This seems to be identical to Video Maker Pro. Consequently, this does not work either.

AndroVid

You can do some basic video editing on individual clips. Seems to work OK.

However, if you want to combine several clips into one video it can only do the most basic things: place the clips in order and merge them. Anything more than that you have to do to each individual clip before you select them to merge.

A reasonably good video editing app, but not good enough.

One of the few apps that did not immediately get a “fail”.

Video Editor and Maker

Looks similar to Video Maker Pro, so seems to be built on the same core.

Has the same flaw: it fails to import any videos to work with.

FAIL

Video Maker Pro and Android Video Maker Pro

Alternative names.

WeVideo

Launched as “the android equivalent to iMove on the iPad”. It seems to have a number of issues though.

My major issue is this, quoted from the intro to the app: “WeVideo Video Editor & Maker for Android syncs with the cloud and can be edited with full creative control with the WeVideo.com editor. All your videos and projects are stored online, safely, for you to edit wherever you are.”

I do not want my videos stored on the WeVideo servers “in the cloud”. I do not want to edit them online. I want to have my projects locally on my tablet and edit them locally on my tablet.

So in effect it is useless for my needs.

From the demo videos it looks as if it can do some simple editing, but not much more than the most basic things.

FAIL

Clesh Video Editor (€3.99)

Same issue as with WeVideo: it works online. It is not a local application, so it is not of interest to me. (Although a quick look at the interface gives me the impression that it has some interesting functionalities.)

The only worthwhile alternatives

Video Editor (by Samsung)

My tablet comes with a built in video editing app, called simply “Video Editor”. It is by far, very far, the best of the video editing apps that I have tried.

It does not support 1080 though. I hope it will come.

A big surprise.

The WINNER.

It is a big drawback that it does not do 1080p.

Kinemaster and Kinemaster Pro

Unfortunately it does not work on my tablet (Samsung Tab2 10.1). It only works on a limited selection of devices. However it does work on my android smartphone. I installed the free version of the app there and it looks promising. And it works!

But I do not want to do the video editing on the phone. I want to do it on the tablet.

So it is not really what I want.

Having nevertheless tried it out a bit on the phone it seems OK. The interface is not very intuitive. For example, it took me quite a while to figure out how to render a file. But it seems you can do most of the things that a simple video editing app should be able to do.

A real pity it does not work on my tablet.

You need to get the (paying, but not expensive) Pro version if you really want to use it for your videos.

A possible new contender

CyberLink’s PowerDirector

Just recently a new video editing app has appeared, CyberLink’s PowerDirector. I have not tried it yet but it looks promising. Unfortunately it is not compatible with my tablet, so to use it I will have to get a new tablet… Or use it on my phone. But I don’t want to edit on the phone.

Conclusion

It looks as if there is still no really good video editing app on Android. There are a few, very few, decent ones: Samsung’s Video Editor and KineMasterPro. Perhaps the new arrival, CyberLink’s PowerDirector will be a good solution and at least I hope that it will spark more interest from competing app developers.

But for the moment it looks as if I will mainly stick with Sony Vegas on a PC and only occasionally use Samsung’s video editor.

Or have you found something else? What are you working with?

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14 Responses to Trying out Android video editing apps

  1. Paolo July 7, 2014 at 20:36 #

    Hi Per, Thank you for posting your experience on this matter since I am also searching for similar specs.

  2. Lucian (developer for WeVideo) July 8, 2014 at 09:39 #

    WeVideo for Android supports basic editing functionality such as trimming and cutting, merging several clips, adding a soundtrack, adding a caption or a text on a clip, adding video title clip. It also offers a nice selection of themes that can be applied to make the videos shine.

    We’re also working on a set of brand new features to extend the video editing capabilities even further. One of them is local rendering which will address the sync to cloud issue you mentioned.

    • Per Karlsson July 8, 2014 at 09:48 #

      Lucian –

      sounds like good improvements. Just a note on “local rendering” – anything that requires me to upload clips to the clouds, raw clips or rendered, is out of the question for me. So if you are working on a version that will be fully functional off-line then that is a good improvement.

      There are two important sides to the “fully local” functionality:

      a) I may not want to put my videos online (and if I do, I want to put them in a location of my choice),

      b) mobile internet is far from being available everywhere, especially with speeds that make it practical to upload videos, which in effect makes any app that relies on working with videos in the cloud mostly useless

  3. Joakim July 22, 2014 at 16:04 #

    Har precis bytt till Android från iPhone och har samma frustrationer som du. Allt på marknaden verkar va skit. Tyärr fungerar inte KineMatser på min telefon så den kan jag inte testa. Hoppas verligen att det händer nåt snart.
    Joakim

  4. Joakim July 22, 2014 at 16:06 #

    I also tried WeVideo but it was an instant fail. I couldn’t even get started and the website was really slwo (I’m on a 50mbit connection). I’m also with Per here – I don’t want to upload videos to the cloud, then I can just use a sw for my PC.

    • Per Karlsson July 22, 2014 at 16:17 #

      Did you try the PowerDirector from CyberLink?

      • Joakim July 22, 2014 at 17:15 #

        I don’t have a tablet but a phone with a 5.5″ screen and PowerDirector is apparently only compatible with tablets. There’s also a mobile version but that only seem to play with HP.

        BTW I’m also using Sony Vegas as standard PC sw :)

  5. Joakim July 22, 2014 at 19:38 #

    After having tried most apps (which are compatible with my phone) I think I have to say that VideoShow is the best. It should be said that it doesn’t make it very good but it’s the only one I have found which have a simple timeline where you can add text as overlay as well as audio without it trying to add a lot of crap intelligence to the editing experience.
    It’s also missing basic fade in/out features and the clips stack up to each other and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    Sad smiley to the Android market. I had expected so much more.

    I used to use CuteCut on iPhone, and besides from crashing all the time it was a great app. Multilayering and advanced transitions. There is something called Cute Cut on android as well but it’s another manufacturer and it’s basically a POS app.

    • Per Karlsson July 22, 2014 at 19:52 #

      I find it really odd that there is this complete lack of a good app for this.

      Surely it is something that many people will be clamoring for. Or is it only pure amateurs who do this while travelling?

      Surely it must change soon!

      Many thanks for your feedback.

      PS: I like you luminaries! Clever.

  6. Joakim July 22, 2014 at 20:42 #

    Thanks yourself. Keep me updated if you should stumble across an app of somewhat better quality.

    and thanks :) It was great fun making the lamps. The photos are actual photos, and not 3D renders. It’s amazing what you can do these days with 3D printing.

  7. Joakim July 23, 2014 at 09:35 #

    Daily update :)
    I installed a PC SW called Racoon from which you can download apk files from Play and then you can side load them onto your device. I did this for KimeMaster and it worked like a charm. If you want to try it for your tabled then you can probably do the same.

    http://www.onyxbits.de/raccoon

    • Per Karlsson July 23, 2014 at 10:01 #

      I guess this is saying that if an app says that it can’t be installed on a certain device this is a work-around. (For example when KineMaster said it was not compatible with your phone.) With Racoon you can install it anyway. Is that what this is means?

      • Joakim July 23, 2014 at 11:58 #

        Exactly. I figured that since my phone (a brand new OnePlus One) is very similar to the Sony Z2 and Samsung S5 there shouldn’t be any problems. Works like a charm.

  8. TJ August 7, 2014 at 01:20 #

    Did a Google search for Android editors and found your page. Thanks for the info. However, you might want to update your information on Kinemaster. The Pro version is now a very expensive $40 PER YEAR license for an Android app. I could see a one time charge but that’s ridiculous. Competition can’t come soon enough. Just something at the iMovie level would be fine.

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