WeVideo – online video editing tool

The summary

WeVideo is an online video editor that allows cloud storage of assets and finished videos. It’s got a good feature set and nice links to social media tools. But it won’t do everything.

Pros

  • Free
  • Sign in with Google, Facebook or Yahoo
  • Good links to YouTube, Vimeo
  • Very broad music and sounds library
  • Multi track video and audio
  • Cloud-based storage means potential for collaborative projects and cableless mobile uploads (Android).

Cons

  • Limited media storage
  • Free accounts limited to exporting at 360p with watermark. Max 480p for $2.99 a pop.
  • Only 15 export minutes/month 
  • Some effects are limited (e.g. Ken Burns zooming on images)

The detail

I’ve been struggling to come up with a decent video editing tool to use on the Netskills storytelling workshop recently. Photostory 3 is showing it’s age, MovieMaker has had it’s feature list decimated and using iMovie would mean both a massive outlay on shiny Mac kit and learning a whole new, unintuitive workflow for editing. 

Part of the solution will probably be to turn it into a BYOD event so people can use the software they are most familiar with (and it opens up the option of using iOS for storytelling too) but there needs to be a fallback for those that either have no device or software.

Online tools seem to be the best way forward in theory. We do training in numerous venues so there’s always a chance that when I turn up some aspect of installed software won’t work or I don’t have enough priveleges to sort problems. This happened with Photo Story 3 at the last venue where the mics I’d brought along didn’t work with the sound cards so attendees needed to yell their narration into the built-in webcam mics – not great.

Web tools are always going to be a compromise. In the past Jaycut would probably have sufficed but that was bought out by RIM a while back.

WeVideo appeared last year and looks very promising.

It comes in a 2 flavours, a stripped down editor as part of YouTube’s Create range of services, or a stand alone webpage. I’m not recommending WeVideo for day to day editing. It doesn’t have the flexibility. But as a tool for workshops and to get people started on the path of using non-linear editing tools it works very well.

You can see from the summary above that there are some limitations for the free version of the site but that’s fair enough. These sites have to make money somehow.

For our digital storyteling projects we need to ability to import images,video, audio over a number of tracks, add text and simple effects such as pan & zoom on still images. WeVideo allows all that.

The Ken Burns effect is quite important for image-based digital storytelling. Although this has it and give the ability to centre a zoom on a focal point it only allows a zoom out which over a few minutes becomes very repetitive. I’ve raised this with them but it doesn’t look like it’ll change any time soon.

The final output is low quality on the free account and it has a permanent but discrete watermark, but as I said. Fair enough, it’s a free tool. The ease of exporting directly to YouTube or Vimeo is a real bonus.

This is what I put together from some HD footage and images this morning. Music is “Pipeline” by Rho )

Despite the compromises on quality, it does the job nicely.

A word on using online tools

Using online tools isn’t always the best option. The availability and feature set of these sort of tools are subject to change with little notice. For indiviual uses it’s possible to weather those storms. When you’re putting together resources and planning workshop activities a sudden change can really screw things up. There have been a number of times when tools I’ve relied on have suddenly vanished (see sadly departed Fliggo).

The only way round this is to keep an eye on developments through following the official twitter account, talk to the developers and always have a fall back plan.

 

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