Online web applications have begun to sneak into the vernacular producer's dictionary. Editing "in the cloud" has its ups and downs, here's a look a few applications and requirements to online video editing.
In 2007 there were a plethora on startups eager to capture the attention of consumers with their new online video editing web applications. Then, web video was hotter than bacon grease on the griddle. While consumer consumption of video is still expanding, general demand for online video editing services hasn't been able to sustain all these startups. The dust has settled and now we can take a closer look at some of the more popular options for online video editing.
Who's It For?
Online video editing applications are not for the intermediate or advanced video editors. Let me first get that out of the way for you loyal Videomaker fans. But don't go away. There are some great features that may be of use to you. For you beginners, or mobile video shooters (iPhone 4 movie producers, anyone?) these tools are your best ally. But if there's one word of warning for you, it's to not try to do too much with your produced videos with these tools. They're better for uber simple edits and extremely short videos.
One of the great things about these applications is that all you really need is a modern Internet browser (e.g., FireFox, Chrome, Safari) and a high speed Internet connection (the faster the better). Your computer's processor, hard drive and RAM are factors as always, but they are not used as intensively. In fact they're simply used to run the browser window, or in the case of the hard drive, read data from the drive as your media is uploaded to the respective video editing web services. So, just about any modern computer can be a good editing machine for this particular use case.
The Tools of the Trade
We're taking a look at online video editing tools provided by JayCut.com, Pixorial.com and YouTube.com. Each of these is very different in the type of features they support, but they all share one goal: they let you produce and edit video using their web site. Let's dig in.
JayCut.com: Editor's Delight
As someone who has been editing for years, I found JayCut's editing tools extremely easy to use and it had a pleasantly surprising amount of options. Of all three tools we looked at, this one is one of the more "professionally" appealing. The timeline interface and wide selection of transitions and other options blew the rest of the competition out of the water. But we still believe that if your ultimate goal is to have more tools, effects and other options, you're better off going with a traditional software suite. With that said, we appreciated at least having them at our disposal with JayCut.
Another great feature of JayCut is their batch uploading that allows you to select multiple files for upload. This might not seem like a big deal, but consider that it may take you several hours to upload your video files even for a short 3-minute produced video. Batch uploading means that you can select your files, click the Upload button and walk away. In some cases you might just go grab some dinner and watch a movie and come back to it. You won't miss much.
JayCut's editing interface looks very similar to the early days of non-linear editors where there were two video tracks: A and B. That will be a throwback for some you. For you new editors, this format just allows you to visually overlap two clips and apply a transition between them. While there's no right or wrong way of doing it, you do save some screen real estate if you go with a single track and allow transition to be placed on top of the intersecting "butts" of the clips.
JayCut's exporting options are quite simple and provide a variety of encoding options that we didn't find in the others. You can export to a variety of files that place nicely with mobile devices as well as other common video file types. Of course, sharing your video on YouTube is there as well. It's important to note, as we wrap up our look at JayCut, that they've changed their business model from B2C to B2B, meaning that most of their business objectives are to get their tools on other websites. For example, The Oprah Winfrey Show recently used its technology to launch its nationwide talent search for a new host for its new talkshow on Oprah's network. So, while you can go to JayCut's site and edit video now, we can't help but wonder if they'll go the route of Adobe Premiere Express, another online video editor, that is only offered through limited partnerships.
Pixorial.com: Video Anywhere
We were really impressed with Pixorial's clean and modern design, making it an extremely attractive interface for anyone who is completely brand new to the concept of video editing. This would certainly be a good tool for those who are just getting their feet wet. Initially, we had a peculiar issue trying to upload videos, so we contacted customer support. Within hours they responded letting us know that there were no errors on their end and that we should retry. So we did, with success. Although we couldn't reproduce the problem, we're guessing it probably had something to do with our computer as another computer had no issues. Either way, we were glad to have a timely response from the support team. That's always a good sign, especially of a young and small company.
Just like JayCut, Pixorial will also let you batch upload video files, a real nice convenience for those adding a great deal of video clips. But they also have a really interesting email upload feature. When you start an account, Pixorial gives you a special email address that you can send videos to and then they'll be uploaded to your account. Brilliant! With the amount of mobile phones with video capabilities and data plans, we think this would be a great way to shoot video anywhere, then send it off to upload to your video editing tool. Viol!
Pixorial also shines in the video exporting and sharing category. We really appreciate that they've focused on enriching the user experience as a viewer and not necessarily as the "professional" editor. This is evident in the overwhelming variety of exporting and sharing features. We especially liked the Videocards that allow you to take your edited video and put it into a stylized web page and then email a link out to your contacts. In this way Pixorial is less a video editor and more of a video sharer, which we think is the more exciting side of these types of web services. Furthermore, Pixorial will automatically connect to your Facebook and Twitter accounts and help you publish your videos to these social networks. I think these tools could even be adopted by many of us more advanced editors as a way to casually share our mobile videos and connect to family and friends using our creative visual minds. We're pretty excited to put this to use in our personal lives.
YouTube: The 800-pound Gorilla
Video editing has come to YouTube, although it's a little more difficult to find as YouTube is so much more than an editor. Of all the these tools we used, YouTube's is the absolute simplest to use, although it's also the most limited. We really liked the clip trimmer feature and how it pops up when you activate it. This seems to help make less clutter in the user interface.
While YouTube's video editor is the most easy interface to use, we did experience a lot more lag (buffering) while previewing clips in the editor. Luckily, there are so few transitions and effects that it really makes very little difference, but it was a bit frustrating at times. For most people, YouTube might be the best solution for them if they simply want to share their videos on YouTube, or already have a wide variety of videos already uploaded to the service. Other than it's super simple interface and the reality that your clips may be already on YouTube, we couldn't find any other standout reasons to use it for the task of editing or sharing video.
When it comes to getting a simple and short video completed, all these tools can get the job done. Google's YouTube is by far the simplest of the editing tools, while Pixorial has a much more enjoyable viewer approach to its tools, and JayCut takes the lead with a larger selection of transitions and effects for text. JayCut is also hinting at a new release that will do even more things that no online video editor can do presently, but at the time this story went to press, (November 2010), that release has yet to come.
As technology advances, we hope to see more innovations and integrations so that online video editing is not only a tool for building videos, but for sharing your thoughts and experiences with the entire world.
Happy Online Editing!
Contributing columnist Mark Montgomery is a web content specialist and produces instructional videos for a leading web application developer.