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[App Review] Clips (iOS): Video Making Just Became Fun

For most people, making and editing videos is not the stuff of which dreams are made. You think of hefty files, complicated formats, and video editing tools that cost a bomb and are complex. Well, the fact is that we used to think pretty much the same about image editing tools not too long ago. And then along came Instagram and suddenly everything seemed simpler. The purists were less than pleased of course and complained about compromised resolution and oversimplification and the like, but the common consumer could not have been happier with what was on offer.

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Well, Apple is trying to do with Clips to videos what Instagram did for images – take the pain out and make the whole editing process simple and fun.There is one crucial difference, though – unlike Instagram, Apple is not trying to establish a new social network with Clips. The app will let you edit videos and add a plethora of effects to them, but you will have to post your results to an existing social network or messaging platforms rather than on a new one. But let’s get one thing clear – Clips is designed for fun. The app is free for iPhone users and at 49.3 MB is not a hefty download either, definitely not by video editor standards.

Using it might take a bit of getting used to those who have not dabbled too often with video, but if you have tried making videos at some stage of your digital life, you will find yourself in relatively familiar territory. You can opt to either load up an existing video or photographs or shoot one from within the app itself – the only restriction is that the video’s resolution will be of the square type that you have seen on Instagram. And no, there are no settings to mess around with – you pretty much get a camera viewfinder with a recording button below it, labeled “hold to record.” Incidentally, you can also slide to the left to lock recording, saving you the need to keep the button pressed. Tapping on the button when locked or just lifting your finger stops the recording. And yes you can pinch to zoom while recording.

The real stuff, however, is above the viewfinder. There is the much-publicized ability of the app to add what you are speaking in the form of text to your video – transcribing on the move as it were, or adding subtitles to your video seamlessly. There are about eight formats to choose from, and yes, you can stop the recording at any stage and turn off the subtitles. There are also eight effects (Instagram type) to choose from for those who want to tweak appearances, and then there are stickers, emojis and Title screens (the ones with only text on them!). You can slap them on your video. Once your video is ready, you can opt to trim it, add more images and other videos to it if you wish (the videos and clips appear below the main display in sections that you can move to different locations or even flick up to delete), and then save it and/or share it on different networks and platforms – the app even helpfully shows you the people you contact most often on iMessage at the top of the sharing window to save you the need of looking around.

No, it is not perfect. We found the transcribing ability of the app to be extremely iffy, even in relatively quiet environments (fortunately, you can edit the text that appears!), and those addicted to apps like iMovie will complain that they cannot edit individual slides of videos easily – you can get a slide by slide visual only in trimming mode and there editing is not an option. You similarly cannot insert a video or an image between an existing video once it has already been recorded – you can do so while making the recording, though. You do not even have any settings to control or tweak – the app will record video in the same quality format and you cannot play around with resolutions.

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But then we strongly suspect that Clips was not made in fact to supplant iMovie. It is not a heavy duty video editor but one that is designed to be relatively lightweight and easy to use, and while we can see some people stumbling with the interface, those who have dealt with even basic videos will find it a stroll in the park. Yes, it is a trifle bare bones right now in terms of edits and options, but we have to concede that we found Clips a whole lot of fun to play around with. And “play” we suspect is the operative term here – this is a playful app, with some powerful features, and definitely a step ahead of the very basic sticker and filter based video edit apps we see on Snapchat and Facebook. Thanks to it, we suspect we will be doing a lot more videos in the coming days. And so will many others.

It ain’t a social network, but Clips could make videos so much more…fun.

Available from: iTunes App Store
Price: Free