Monday, March 26, 2012

Magisto: An Automatic Online Video Editor

I've loved making movies ever since I was a kid and I always envision the perfect video/slideshow/montage all the while I'm on a trip. Between the both of us, me and Ignas have 5 cameras:
  • His Canon PowerShot S95
  • His GoPro HD Hero 2
  • His Canon EOS Rebel T3i Digital SLR
  • My iPhone 4S
  • My GE E1486TW
We always have at least one of these whenever we go anywhere (obviously, my phone is permanently equipped). But when we go on a trip, we bring at least 3 cameras and take tons of photo/video. Back in the day, I edited videos using two VCR's. Luckily, technology's come a little further since then.

For those of you with plenty of footage and little time to tinker with a video editing program, let me introduce you to Magisto. Magisto says that it's a video editor but it's more like a video maker, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Here's how it works.

After signing up for a free account, making a video is extremely easy. All you have to do is select the footage you want Magisto to make a video from, give the movie a title and then add a soundtrack. After your videos are uploaded, Magisto will automatically detect the "good" footage and edit them to make a movie. That's it! And the best part is that it's free!

I've made quite a few videos using Magisto but this one is definitely my favorite. It literally took me 2 minutes to create this video. The footage is from our Hawaii trip in September 2011 and I think the video does well to show how awesome Magisto can be. (Other info: videos were taken with the S95 and the song is called "Sunshine Girl" by J BOOG.)

After watching that amazing video, you may be thinking that Magisto is a dream come true. Unfortunately, there are several limitations.

First of all, you can only upload up to 600 MB or 16 video files, whichever limit you hit first. With footage from an S95 camera, I always hit the 600 MB which is about 4-5 videos.  Second, it takes forever and a day to upload your videos to Magisto. The Magisto website says that there are several reasons for this, mainly your own internet connection. But I've used Magisto for both home and work purposes and it's been painfully slow on both connections. So yes, it took me 2 minutes and a few clicks to make the video above but I literally had to wait a few hours for the videos to be uploaded and then processed into a final movie. (I always make Magisto videos right before bed so that I could watch the final movies first thing in the morning.)

There's another limitation to Magisto that I want to point out but this one can actually be fixed with a little extra effort. As I said, you choose the videos Magisto takes footage from but that's the extent of your power. After that, it's out of your hands and let me tell you, Magisto's definition of "good footage" is not always good. One time, I uploaded a relatively long video of Ignas swimming in a river. Somewhere in the middle of this clip, a random photographer guy also gets in the frame as he enters the river. Well, Magisto thought this was award-winning footage and decided to include this stranger for a majority of the final movie. After waiting hours for uploading and processing, I was definitely not happy after seeing the final result.

Fortunately, you can easily avoid this problem by screening your footage and removing the clips that you do not want Magisto to use. Trimming your footage with a simple video editor will ensure that only "good" footage, with "good" being defined by both you and Magisto, is included in your final movie.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend Magisto for a fun and easy way to make short videos but it will never make the perfect video/slideshow/montage that I always envision during a trip.

P.S. Use the Magisto website and not the iPhone app - the quality is drastically reduced when using the app!

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