Video editing on the go with Splice #BlappSnapp

I’m writing this as a contribution to BlappSnapp, a series of posts on mobile apps in the classroom for Julian Wood (@ideas_factory). You can see the previous post in the chain here.

If you’ve done any work with digital video you’ll know that the results that learners achieve can be amazing. You’ll also know what a pain in the back side managing a video editing project can be!┬áIt’s a potential mess of incompatible devices, cables that don’t fit, unintuitive software that won’t recognise the file types you’ve recorded and so on ad infinitum.

Which is why I think Splice is such a fantastic app for getting students straight into producing their own digital video without many of the usual barriers. Mobile video editing software has come on in leaps and bounds in the last 2 years and the gold standard is probably the iOS version of iMovie. iMovie comes with a (small) price tag but Splice is a free alternative you should investigate.

Screenshot of Splice
Screenshot of Splice

Splice allows you to take videos and photos you’ve taken on an iPad or iPod Touch, edit together, add basic effects, record narration and overlay music. The results can be published as a single MP4 that goes back into the device’s camera roll.

Because of its stripped down interface, experienced video editors might find it lacking in more advanced features. For the rest of us it means that the app is simple and fairly intuitive to use. It would certainly pose few problems to learners at KS2 and above. My then 5 year old was getting the hang of it for editing together the stop motion Lego animations he’d created.

Screenshot of Splice
Screenshot of Splice

Potential uses

Digital storytelling – mobile devices are ideal for capturing personal reflection either through video or audio. With Splice these can edited together into rich digital narratives
Fieldwork and placements – I’ve been talking to a lot of people in HE about the use of apps like Splice as part of fieldwork. The key benefit is that images and video can be captured and edited in the field without the complication of having to download the footage onto a desktop. You don’t even need to be near a wi-fi signal.
Capturing labwork
Working with stop motion animation – there are a few really good apps for capturing stop motion and time-lapse sequences on iOS devices. Splice is a great tool for turning these into something more coherent.
Previsualisation – I used to do a lot of work with GCSE media students on their production project work. Splice would have been a fantastic tool to help in the planning stages as a sort of video storyboard before the expensive cameras came out.
Creating learning materials – Why should students get all the fun? If you’re into flipping your classroom why not think about using Splice as a way of creating videos that can sit on the learning platform and prepare your students for classroom activities?

Restrictions

OK, Splice isn’t perfect. There are a few considerations to bear in mind:

  • Simple interface so lacks advanced features you’d find on the desktop
  • It needs a particular workflow which might be different from the order of things that you’ve used on other software
  • Mobile devices not the best for getting great footage – you’d still need to work with your classes on what makes a good quality image, the importance of framing and using a tripod.
  • The sound capture on mobile devices can still be problematic, especially outdoors, although there are peripheral mics that can help with this.
  • It’s only available on iOS. Android and Windows devices aren’t well served for reliable video editing apps. Andromedia was the best that I could find in the Play Store and I think Samsung Galaxy tablets come with their own serviceable video software.

To put the quibbles into perspective, a friend of mine once compared picking holes in apps like Splice to criticising a talking dog for its accent. You’re basically shooting, editing and producing a movie on something that is basically a glorified telephone. Would you have imagined that 6 years ago?

My advice would be to just try it out and get learn it’s features and its quirks yourself. Having said that, there’s a lot be said for giving learners the tools and see where their creativity takes them. In my experience they quickly learn to deal with the constraints and produce some surprising results.