Sometimes I get this wild idea that I think I should be able to do all sorts on things on the cheap, as in, free. This time round, I decided to see just how intricate I could get in terms of a video that was created completely on an iPad. So I started downloading some programs and shooting some video and here’s the results of my experiment.

First off, there are not as many video editing apps as I had thought there might be. Not in the free area anyway, so if you’re looking for a potential business idea, there you go, a great, free video editing app for the iPad perhaps in a freemium model or ad supported, etc. But give the base program enough features to be usable and make the pay stuff worth the money.

I decided to go the application route because out in the world you might not have access to the Internet for a web-based video editor. If you’re like me and have a Wi-Fi only iPad, but want to be able to shoot and edit anywhere, it made more sense.

Shooting Video with the iPad

This really is as simple as point and shoot. But I found a couple apps that could do effects in the video that you might usually do in post-production, so I tested them out.

I stumbled upon Viddy which has some cool effects, but can only do a 15 second video made for uploading to social networks. A pity really as it’s sort of like Instragram for video, but is so limited as to be useless for any real projects. So the hunt continued.

Free Video Editors for iPad

I found Splice, which actually is a freemium app, but the base app is quite limited in what is available and what it can do, I really just used it to put some pieces together and add titles and basic transitions. That’s pretty much all it can do, well that and add audio. There is a Splice Library where you can buy songs and sounds as well as borders for your video. The borders make the videos look really, well, amateur. All the songs are 99 cents and you could do better with a royalty free online music library. The app’s major limitation is that it can really only do three things, insert video/transition/title (no overlay), do very minor manipulations (slow/accelerate and crop), export the final product. It can’t even manage video overlay titles, only in-stream and that’s a major drawback for some of us.

Once I had some basic video footage assembled I went looking for a more full-featured, yet still free, video editing app.

That is, until I found that Vimeo has a video editing app. It ties into your existing, Vimeo account and offers some really good features. You can take all your footage with the standard iPad camera, or splice something together and then import the exported video. So I took my basic video, spliced it together with the first app and imported it into the Vimeo editor. The nice thing about this app is that it’s got a standard video editor look with a preview pane, an info/interaction pane and a timeline with tracks for video, transitions, titles and audio. You just have to remember which is which as the labels scroll away when you scrub through the timeline.

The major problem with the Vimeo app is that it’s quirky. Positioning titles is troublesome at times and it likes to crash. So does Splice as a matter of fact. The thing I really hate is that it doesn’t seem to auto-save regularly so then you lose work quite often in a crash. That’s frustrating. Plus, the Vimeo app couldn’t put a title at the end if there was no video playing. So it’s overlay only for them. The way round that is to go into Splice, make a title, export that and then tack it on the end of the video in Vimeo.

So I had to create a project, fiddle with it, export, load into the other app, do more editing, another export, another import, more editing, etc. Then in the end, the Vimeo app had some problem and completely lost the project I had been working on. In other words, it’s a piece of crap as it gave me some massive error which basically amounted to, “Yeah, all that work you were doing? Waste of time, HA HA!”

I did finally get something done and put together, only, there’s no way to export to anything but Vimeo.

The Vimeo app, aside from the quirkiness and instability, is pretty cool as far as free video editors go. It allowed me to do most everything I wanted to do, except for create a closing credit. Still, here’s what I managed to accomplish.

The major drawback, it doesn’t keep the video file on the iPad. When the Vimeo app renders the video it uploads to the site and is not saved locally.

Final Thoughts on Apps

My advice? If you want to edit video on your iPad, you could use these apps, if you’re extra patient, you could probably get some quite good videos done, provided they don’t perpetually crash and eat your project timelines in the process, which happened far more than I liked.

I found that the problem with the instability in Vimeo is usually when it wants to access the library and pull in videos or photos but there was some weird permissions thing that then causes it to simply close and usually lose any progress you’ve made (restarting the iPad seemed to clear the error loop). It could certainly use a manual save button and the app should keep a local copy of the video file instead of the render/upload/delete it does now.

I also popped the $4.99 for iMovie and honestly. I’m not all impressed with it as it’s lacking in some serious functionality from what I can see. For example, titles can only be added to a single video clip and only for the entire duration of that clip, etc.

Next time, I think I’ll look at working with some web-based video editors.

NOTE: Since I wrote this, I nabbed up the new Pinnacle Studio for free. It is far, far cooler and more full-featured than what I used here and totally crushes iMovie and pretty much all the other free ones. It’s only free for a limited time, so hop on it! I’ll write something up about it later.