TL;DR: Read the last section containing the how to guide, if that’s all you’re interested in.
Recently a friend asked me: “how do I start to meditate? I want to do it too, but I have no idea how to start.”
This question has been popping up in my head a couple of times since, and honestly, I have no idea how to start. The only thing I know is that you have to start, if you want to do it.
The more interesting question to answer is not how to start, but how to make it stick? And as I just been “meditating” here I realized that it’s not “I want to meditate” that has made it stick for me. As I wrote before, it’s been hard for me to calm down regularly for some time now, but also that the meditative experience itself has changed. The thing that made me sit down and do my meditation was my hyperactivity.
The reason I went to a doctor with my problem was that I was always very twitchy. Twitchy in a self-harming way. I was so nervous that I would scratch my fingers until they bled. Another thing that showed my twitchiness physically, were my legs. I would bob with my knees up and down all the time.
So the reason I started meditating, and what made it stick, was purely health related. I didn’t want to harm myself anymore. The doctor said: “Look you’ve got two choices. Drugs or a natural solution. What’s your pick?” It’s obvious what I chose, but with my choice came a high amount of blind believe, and trust, too. I had to believe that even if I, at the moment, weren’t able to see any reason, or any immediate result, that, after about three months, I would stop scratching my fingers. And I did.
So one of the reasons I meditate is not "to meditate" but rather "to make the twitching not come back". For a similar reason I workout regularly. It’s not “to build muscle”, it’s “because it helps me to balance myself.”
I hope this short introduction helps you find your own personal higher goal.
How to actually start
This is answered really easily: just do it. Just do it one time for a couple of minutes and then see where it takes you.
If you came this far, and now read this post, I am assuming you read some stuff here and there already. This means you are into the topic. You don’t need to read more, you just need to transfer theoretical knowledge into practical experience.
I can assure you, after you do it once, you’ll know more.
How to actually meditate
If that still doesn’t help. Here’s an actual “get started” guide.
I would recommend to find a quiet place.
You don’t need fancy equipment.
You don’t need one of those fancy pillows. A normal chair is good enough.
You don’t need a clock, or a gong.
You don’t need music either.
Look, when you just start with meditation, you are the most startupiest meditator of all. An alarm is nice, and those gongs too, but they are even nicer when you have a use for them. When you buy a meditation CD to start to meditate, then whenever you see the CD, it reminds you that you were going to start to meditate, it defeats the purpose.
My doctor recommended “try to be dependent on as few equipment as possible. This way, you don’t need to have the equipment with you, to do a meditation session.” Makes sense?
In regards to the actual meditation itself, I would recommend to play with it. Do your very first session without a clock. Just sit down, and try to calm down. Breath in and out. Maybe you want to concentrate on your breathing. Just sit and relax. Sit for how long as you can bare it. I swear, the first time, you will highly over-estimate how long you’ve been sitting.
Just let it come naturally. If, after a minute, you can’t sit still anymore, end your first session. Try to guess how long you’ve been sitting. That’s the game you can play. How long am I able to sit?
From the first 2 minutes, you can stretch it out over the next three or four sessions. Then continue the game until you can sit still for 15 minutes. With meditation there’s nothing you can do wrong. You either sit, or you don’t. There’s no one who can judge you, there’s only you.
What made me believe in meditation was the fact that it’s me-time. Our whole world is so noisy, and stressful, all the time. We hustle, we make, we build, we think. We put our faces down into our phones and not in the eyes of the people that are dear to our heart. One person we also neglect is ourselves. You meditate to you spend time with yourself. With meditation you get to know yourself.
However, and when, you decide to do your first session. The best recommendation I can give is: start small.
I posted my Audio Hijack 3 workflow and tips yesterday, but I also recorded my first personal, just for my private amusement, screencast in about 2 years. Of course I’ve been posting screencasts here and there all the time, but since I decided to make videos my main business, screencasting was never the same for me.
You cannot imagine what a huge step this is for me. Let me explain. See, my clients expect high quality videos from me. That is absolutely understandable, and I made quality one of zCasting’s core values to aim for.
The problem is: I just love to share my knowledge with other people. I love screencasting so much that I would love to record and put out more of them, but since videos are my business, I have high standards for them. Not only do I have high standards for my business, but I also think that every video that I put out there, has to be of an equally high standard. What that means is that I don’t post videos. Every little video would become a dreadful week-long project. I need to design neat lower-thirds, a cool intro, find some nice music, …
Of course I know, to attract a lot of subscribers, you need all of that. But it also hinders my ability and desire to share knowledge.
Yesterday when I sat down to think about content marketing ideas for zCasting 3000. I realized this was the issue that keeps me from putting out more videos.
So I threw all of my ego away. I decided to go back to the roots. I put a “least amount of editing” rule on myself. “Good enough”, I told myself, “I just needs to be good enough, it doesn’t need to be great.” No script, no storyboard, no nothing. Normally I take a lot of care that you don’t see any mouse jumps in my screencasts. Good enough, I said, and made the cut. The mouse jumps sometimes now. The overlays are not beautiful. I don’t think the content is good even. But it’s finished and it’s uploaded and it’s published. I published today in the morning, an kept it online the entire day. It’s about midnight now, and it’s still online.1
I’m not sure if that means I’ll put out more screencasts now, just like I did in the past, but it’s a start. I’d like to go a similar route with zCasting’s content marketing strategy. Think: “Let’s Play”-style tutorials.
If you read this far, I’d greatly appreciate a comment.
I realized that, now that I know “the bigger picture”, I can play with other things, that I used to play with. Not is the storyboard really the most important thing, nor are any animations. I know stuff like “YouTube takes ProRes” files, and I know that “YouTube takes any size of video”. Really? So, when I upload an 8-minute, 12GB ProRes 422 HQ screencasts, does that count? That’s so much more fun. :D ↩
I’ve been meaning to share my stretching routine, but only until recently was able to, because I technically couldn’t capture and/or illustrate the workout.
My routine is based on a little bit of Yoga, a little bit of stretching, and a little bit on feedback from physiotherapists. Your own workout will probably be slightly different. We all have certain areas where we are more “tight”, than in others. Generally a lot of folks are tight around the hip area. People who sit a lot tend to have this problem. I mentioned the problem in a previous post.
My stretching routine is heavily influenced by the Bio Energizer Routine, from Elliot Hulse, and his Intuitive Stretching. At the end you can see me do weird things with my legs. That was the part where I, in this case, listened to what my body told me in which way it wanted to be moved.
I’m experimenting with this stuff, especially since I realized that meditation has so many forms. Rooting myself takes many facesBut It Doesn’t Have Heart now. Does that have monk-level for you? Please tell me in the comments!
Audio Hijack 3: Controlling the Loudness of Too Loud Movies
Audio Hijack is out and the new version is worth every penny. The addition of Sessions is a dream come true. This feature opens so many use cases, and Rogue Amoeba has done a great job in this regard. Not only did I just setup a new podcasting session, that now finally allows to start recording of multiple inputs simultaneously, but also did I revise my Controlling the Loudness of Too Loud Movies setup.
To make you familiar with the original problem, in case you haven’t checked the old post out:
One problem we have when watching movies, is that some parts are very quiet, where other parts seem overly loud. The idea I had is to lower the volume of the too loud parts, so that they are closer to the quiet parts. This is called compression in audio engineering. And it works a treat.
Create a new Session in Audio Hijack and remove the recorder. Then add a AUDynamicProcessor as effect.
Lower the threshold to about -20 to -15 dB. Make sure that the compression level is relatively harsh. It says “Headroom” when you click the rightmost circle. The lower, the harder the effect compresses.
Under Details on the bottom, I would recommend to set a slightly higher attack and release time. 0.1 seconds should be good enough, though.
Additionally you can up the overall volume again, to make up for the lost peak volume, but be reminded that this will also increase any noise artifacts.
This is my review of ScreenFlow 5. I have been writing this for about two months now. If you look at my Instagram profile, you see a ton of new videos there, especially screencasts. Pretty much all screencasts are made with ScreenFlow. The two about Final Cut, with the custom shortcut bubbles, as well as most of #uianimation posts, were made in ScreenFlow.
Those should give you an overview what you can do with ScreenFlow.
I am aware that my followership is interested to hear my opinion about this release of a major screencasting app. To be honest, the reason I put this out so late is: I feel like I’m complaining more than I should. I don’t like to write negative reviews, and you probably don’t like to read them. The truth is, ScreenFlow 5 is way behind its previous standards. This is published so late because I wanted to give ScreenFlow a really really good whirl to see if my first impression was not true. I don’t want to hide the facts, nor do I want to hide the faults. The main reason of this first introduction paragraph is to give you a perspective. I don’t want to say bad things about ScreenFlow because I’ve been using it for 8 years now. I’m also using Camtasia. Because you hopefully been following me for a while you know all of that. You know that I think that TechSmith is doing a good job in everything related to screencasting. You know that I think they got a heart for screencasting, and that I think Telestream doesn’t. In the past I’ve been recommending ScreenFlow without hesitation. Recommending ScreenFlow 5 with the same kind of confidence is not so easy anymore. Please read this review and make your own judgment.
ScreenFlow 5 has been released on October 21, 2014. After some initial skepticism on my part, I went ahead and bought the app. To say that after my first look I was not happy with the app would be an understatement. ScreenFlow was the best screencasting app we had on OS X, but it has fallen behind. You can feel it in the pores. Where Telestream (and Vara Software before) showed us Mac users the future of screencasting, they now fail to deliver a product, that differentiates itself far enough to have more value than competing apps, or even the free alternative, QuickTime.
Marketing and Support
I want to begin my review not with the app itself, but with their changed approach to marketing. Every tweet I write is piggybacked by Telestream. They jump into every conversation, without adding any value to the discussion. When I originally asked:
Not sold on ScreenFlow 5. Is the update worth it? Haven’t been using the app for about a year or two at least.
@Zettt A single, streamlined workflow!
From what I can tell from using the app, that is true. But is single and streamlined better? I’ve been editing screencasts with it, and if I had to say that single is a reason to buy it, it’s not. Using Final Cut and Motion adds so many possibilities that it outweighs the single-appness of ScreenFlow. For new users? Maybe.
For a couple of years now, Telestream’s support also lacks horribly. I don’t know what they are doing. Many colleagues, have been in touch with them. They all share the same story: the Telestream support staff were either not able to help them, or sent general text snippets, not even referring to the original problem.
My recommendation: you’re better off to find an answer on a forum, Twitter, or Facebook. If anyone at Telestream reads this: please improve your support. I’d like to see this get better. The forums: please shut it down.
Obviously, I bought ScreenFlow 5, eventually. Let’s speak features.
Adding touch visualizations is a great feature. Plus points. I personally don’t like that the touches themselves don’t allow for a blur, or a drop shadow so that it’s visually easier to see where the touches end, and where the content begins.
The configuration is a bit confusing at first sight. Especially when the touch count is increased. Sometimes you need to rotate the touches a little bit to make room on the screen, or to better indicate that there’s not enough room and the device is used more naturally with the hand rotated.
With the new Touch Callout feature, pinch gestures, and even three-finger spread gestures, are possible.
All that said, my main gripe with these types of touch callouts is that the app doesn’t reflect how an iOS app is really used. As a viewer it is immediately evident that an animation runs, and not a human actually uses the device.
Of course the move animation can be set from linear to eased, but that just doesn’t cut it sometimes. Sometimes we need to “curve” from one state to the next, and that’s something the Touch Callout doesn’t allow for. So we’re pretty much left with doing touches frame-by-frame. Nothing new in this regard.
When a Touch Callout ends, it just “disappears”. No fade out, no blur out. Region ends, and poof the touch gone. Visually not very appealing. Touch Callouts add themselves to a clip, rather than a separate track, like regular Callouts. Regular Callouts allow to add rectangles, lines, and other drawn objects. Because these Callouts are separate clips the user can add a regular transition at the beginning or end. Touch Callouts don’t have this ability. Why are they contained within a clips, rather than separate clips? Who knows. This is just one of the UI misconceptions, that I will write later about.
The defaults for a touch callout are also not very appealing. The color Telestream chose is a very dark grey, with no outline. I did some adjustments and got it looking relatively good. Here you can see a comparison between the two:
This also brings me to my next complaint: defaults. The defaults are suboptimal in many cases. I know that one of the main new features in ScreenFlow 5 is the ability to add Templates, but it’s a considerable effort one has to a) realize there’s something they can customize, and b) actually go through all the hassle to customize all the things. Probably not too much to ask for a professional, but the audience ScreenFlow has catered to in the past, probably won’t do that. Are the chosen defaults fine? I’d say “probably yes, but maybe not”. The reason I express this complaint at all is that many users who screencast use the defaults. Because the chosen defaults look ok-ish, but not great, we get, as a result, ok-ish looking screencasts. Admittedly, Camtasia is not a single dime better.
Speaking of templates, I think this is one of the nicest additions to ScreenFlow 5. It allows pro screencasters to customize the visual appearance of their videos, to a point where we have enough distinction, between two videos, to be recognized as two separate works.
As I mentioned, I’m not sold on the touch visualizations. I’ve used every app and thing on this planet, that I could get my fingers on. Every app that promised it would improve click or touch animations. But I haven’t found anything that I would actually use. There’s PinPoint and PinPoint Pro that I would like to point out. PinPoint Pro especially is an excellent app to customize the whole visual appearance of clicking, on a desktop. If you are doing live presentations this is one of my recommendations.
It is no wonder that I wanted to build my own touch animations then, right? I opened Sketch and exported a PDF. PDF’s can contain vectors. This means that they can be scaled to any size without loosing crispness. This works in Keynote, for example, and other apps too. A workflow that I use regularly for clients to build their own production line. Exporting a circle, with a little bit of drop shadow, and otherwise transparent background, produces this on import in ScreenFlow 5:
To be fair: importing a transparent PNG works. Considering a full-retina production workflow, though, a working vector solution would be much more preferable, especially considering that, to indicate clicks or taps, I would scale the image up.
At the moment ScreenFlow 5 has lots of bugs. I hope that Telestream will fix most of them in dot updates, but at the moment it makes the app highly unreliable.
An example. I downloaded a video off YouTube using youtube-dl. The video was downloaded as an H.264, that I imported into ScreenFlow. I started my editing process and every edit caused the app to “hang”. It didn’t render new frames from new regions, only when the playhead reached a new keyframe came, the app would catch up. Editing this way is unacceptable, since the user can’t determine the quality and correctness of an edit. That wouldn’t be so bad, but when I exported the video, some regions would be exported, some would not. The result was a video consisting of black screens and the edit. The problem here is not that we have such an issue, the problem is that this issue shows up so inconsistently that I couldn’t figure out a way to work around it. Bugs are always there, but if they hinder the production, and can’t be worked around, then that’s bad.
I was told by colleagues that they had similar experiences, which is sad, because some versions ago, ScreenFlow added the ability to create “empty documents”. This was perfect, because this made ScreenFlow the more advanced version of iMovie. The editor was capable enough to edit vacation movies. It had various other advantages too, like being able to choose the frame size freely. At the moment I cannot recommend ScreenFlow 5 for this purpose anymore. As mentioned, editing has issues, and the export is unreliable. I hope they’ll fix it in the future.
The bugs continue, sadly, some colleagues report that the app is prone to crashes at the moment. They say that the app is so unstable that it’s barely workable.
I can’t second this, but the question is: what is causing ScreenFlow to be so unstable? I’d assume that it has a lot to do with last-minute changes to the app itself. From the fantastic movie player Movist, I first read that Apple is now requiring App Store apps to use AVFoundation; the old QuickTime frameworks are deprecated. Considering ScreenFlow is still in the App Store, it uses AVFoundation. I checked with otool and couldn’t find the QuickTime frameworks either.
This kind of observation flows (no pun intended) through the whole app. ScreenFlow 5 feels incomplete und unbaked at the moment. It has many rough edges, and lacks polish.
One of the main new features is iOS recording. One of the downsides every app at the moment has, is that it’s unable to record the touch events as well. In the case of ScreenFlow I was hoping that they would invest some more effort in this regard, and if they’d implement iOS recording, there would also be a solution there. But there isn’t.
That aside, the iOS recording function has worked solidly in my tests, though I have heard negative feedback from fellow screencasters. They say the recording would drop frames. I can’t second that experience, but from what I wrote about the editing, maybe it feels like ScreenFlow is dropping frames. I also can’t undermine that with tests either.
Maybe those folks also didn’t pay attention to the new setting where they can set the framerate for new recordings? There is a new setting for the Desktop Framerate, which means it can record at 1, 15, 30, and Automatic fps. Whatever number Automatic is, but I suppose it’s somewhere between 30 and 60 fps. Maybe Telestream means Automatic is 60? It’s not clear from the dialog. There’s no separate setting for the iOS framerate. And sadly, the documentation doesn’t give this information away. There is this old forum post, that I found, that didn’t answer the problem either. I don’t know. Maybe ScreenFlow can’t record at 60fps, maybe it can. Having high-framerate recording in ScreenFlow would have been great though.
I have to jump in here for ScreenFlow and admit that QuickTime is not any better in this case. Apple’s own solution does not have a framerate setting at all, and the recorded framerate is also not stable. QuickTime does drop frames, too. It is dependent on the device and the available resources on that device. Everything that the device has to do in the background causes potential framerate issues. I know that Apple propagates that users shouldn’t worry about background processes, but let’s admit it, that’s their marketing. In reality there’s stuff going on in the background, and as long as there is stuff to do, someone has got to do that stuff, and therefore it will cause some sort of performance issue. Close the background apps! From my own experience, I can say that this results in better recordings.
Snapback didn’t get much attention in the release notes. It’s actually a pretty cool feature. Basically Snapback would take any previous action, for example a zoom in, and just “snap it back” to the original settings.
I’m using the app now since October. This feature hasn’t worked a single time. See, I do edit my videos. The way I do my edit, I watch the screencast and when I encounter a position that I would like to zoom in to, then I just add a Video Action and zoom in. Then I may mispronounce something, or some other issue occurs, like the mouse doesn’t move where it’s supposed to be moving to. So I correct that issue, and do some cuts. The problem then is that Snapback can’t snap back anymore. It says there’s nothing to snap back to. So the thing that could save lots of stupid clicking, didn’t work in two months of testing.
One more point that I’d like to address is that old features haven’t received attention. The old things are just as they are. While new features have been added, the app itself hasn’t received much love. There’s little to no new design in ScreenFlow 5. One of the few things that has received an update is the app icon, but that’s normal in the Apple world. The rest of the interface is just as it used to be. Apparently Telestream didn’t see a reason to improve the speed at which screencasts can be edit with the app, nor workflows, nor UX.
This is the tough part, because I wrote a Camtasia/ScreenFlow shoot out in the past, and whenever the two apps come out with a major update, I feel like I need to revise that article.
Right now this is even tougher, because in the past it was clear that Camtasia was way behind ScreenFlow. Between then and now a lot has happened. Let me sum it up for you.
I’ve been talking with the TechSmith folks occasionally. I wrote a couple of times that they are passionate about education, and screencasting. That is still true. We had chats where I complained about the design of their apps, that they don’t approach the Apple market fully. They released several updates to their apps, and, additionally, their websites and their whole lineup of apps has received design updates all over the place. Camtasia is not 3.0 yet, but it’s 2.9.1. They have implemented iOS recording in a dot update, rather than a major update. Other than that, the iOS recording has the same issues ScreenFlow 5 and QuickTime have. Marketing wise, what am I supposed to say. They piggyback, too, but they are not trying to fool their customers. The app itself has loads of bugs too. Is it good enough? Yeah, kind of. Are they unbearable? No, they’re not.
On the other hand Telestream lost most of its momentum. Where there was passionate energy in the past, the rigidness and calmness of “the big one” has settled in. They have been bought by a company. Sleazy marketing has replaced valuable contributions. Heck, I have even been emailed by one of their folks if I want to take part in their affiliate network. I’ve been asked if I want to participate with a site that’s nearly dead.
It’s really hard to write this, I would love to write that ScreenFlow 5 is a great release. But it’s jut not. While the features they’ve added are great and necessary for modern screencasters in the mobile world, the app itself lacks love and polish. Picture this: you’ve edited a video for an hour, maybe even two, or an entire day, now you export and all you get is a black screen. This problem is so severe that you have to question yourself, how that got through beta testing? Did they not test their own app? They must have! What made them decide that what they’ve got is good enough to be released? I can see how one has to say that what they have is good enough at one point, but some of the areas that need fixing are so intrinsically important to the video production process that they should’ve fixed it before the release. Maybe they were under a lot of pressure?! Who knows.
My recommendation: buy either. Camtasia is as good as ScreenFlow now.
Vim has a colorcolumn setting. This allows to highlight a specific column, or a series of columns, with a particular color. For instance you can highlight the 140th column with a red color to indicate where a tweet would be too long. You can choose from a range of colors.
The good thing about color column is that the highlight will only appear when the actual length of a line comes close to the set column.
To adjust Java memory usage, we can now use the CrashPlan app itself.
Open the CrashPlan app
Double-click the CrashPlan logo in the upper-right corner
Enter the following command, using a value appropriate for the size of your backup selection (for example, 1536 for a 1.5 TB selection): java mx 1536, restart
The CrashPlan app will close
The linked page also lists some recommended settings. You can check current memory (mx) settings with java mx. Much easier now, before we had to edit the launchd plist.
I have a MacBook Pro late 2013 at the moment, and I set it to 512, and my system feels much snappier now.
German’s congress is over, and there have been lots of great presentations again on computer security, surveillance, and art. I think the one talk that stands out most is Reconstructing narratives by Jacob Appelbaum and Laura Poitras. They reveal some Snowden documents about the NSA and their ability to crack secure connections.
"The NSA also has a program with which it claims it can sometimes decrypt the Secure Shell protocol (SSH)."
If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen that I post more videos now. I had a really hard time getting into this. When Instagram announced they would do videos in June 2013, I was confused what I would do with this feature. Well, time has passed, obviously, and in the meanwhile I find it much easier now, and even enjoyable, to post short videos. I started with a series exploring the best and worst of iOS motion graphic design, and I also posted some short MindNode tutorials.
I did check out way more than I will describe in this post. Focus is the utmost goal, and I therefore want to focus on iOS video apps only here. I have a slightly different post up on my business blog on zCasting 3000.
Background and Problems
Over the last two or three months I have been checking out all the video apps on iOS. The results of my explorations are relatively poor. Practically none of the apps, did what I expected them to do. There was always some sort of function missing, or the UI too ugly, or something else. The high-ranking apps were not always the best, but, to be honest, also not the worst. Most common problems I stumbled into:
App resizes video to either 4:3 or 16:9. I found one app that is able to create square sized projects.
If an app does square videos, the app doesn’t let the user choose the crop freely.
App misses functions like text layers.
App adds filters, doesn’t provide option to turn filters off.
App lacks basic editing features.
There was one app that blew my socks off, and that was Cute CUT. The app ranks high in the charts, so I expected the worst. But the app is good. I can complain about most of its pieces, but overall Cute CUT is a great app.
We have other great apps on iOS too. Replay, for example, just won best app of 2014. Fantastic app. Great experience, neat ideas, videos come out looking phenomenal. But the videos look just a tad over-produced.
Here’s a list of all mentioned apps put conveniently in one place.
Recording seems to be the most common denominator. Different from photo apps, taking videos is a lot different. The mentioned editors below, while having basic functions built in, they also don’t offer anything beyond the basics, hence why a good camera is more important. A good camera app is able to expose special functions.
Filmic Pro is a camera app that leaves almost no room for wishes. Filmic is one of the most professional video cameras out there. When you open the app, all you see is buttons. If you need anything more complicated than the built in iOS camera, Filmic Pro is the one I like to recommend.
One of the camera apps that I use for a couple of years is 8mm Vintage Camera. This app makes every recording look terribly old. There’s even a button that temorarily displaces the view to emulate old video player artifacts and errors. You can choose from a couple of camera models, ranging from the 1920’s up to the 90’s.
SloPro is an app that uses optical flow to slow videos down so much that the movie appears standing. Optical flow is a more intelligent way to foresee changes from one frame to the next. This helps the app to make its dramatic speed changes. Built in is a basic editor. It allows not only to set the in and out point for a video, but also speed in and out. This way the app is able to slow down only a part of a clip.
Hyperlapse and Emulsio go along a similar path. Both apps stabilize wonky shots. Hyperlapse records videos stabilized, whereas Emulsio works on recorded videos. Hyperlapse is also a lot easier to use, but Emulsio has more advanced features. It can work on x-axis stabilization only, or y, or x and y, plus a lot more.
Lapse It is an app that records time-lapses. If you are not familiar with the process, time-lapsing is a process where pictures are taken in fixed intervals, e.g. every 10 seconds. Lapse It takes all the pictures and allows to set the playback speed in frames per second. It has some helpful tools to improve the time-lapse video, and it can work on pre-recorded material too.
Let’s get to the bread and butter of video: editing. Without edit, you can only post plain and boring videos, just like everyone else. A good edit makes videos stand out.
Replay and Fly
The first two apps I’d like to mention are Replay and Fly. Replay won the Best App of 2014. To be frank, the app deserves it. Replay is an intuitive and great video editing app. The features are explorable, make sense, and the videos look phenomal. They are a tad over-produced though, but I get to that.
Replay is a video editing app that comes with a slew of themes. These themes have various animation styles in them. They can’t be tweaked, they can only be chosen. That’s the biggest disadvantage of Replay. When chosing a theme, it also adds video filters to the video. There’s no option to turn the filters off, or to turn the theme off. Totally hidden is a button to disable transitions, too. In the Trim & Crop view, is a button at the bottom that says “play this clip without cuts”.
Both apps resize all videos. Replay allows to set the view crop, again in Trim & Crop, just move the video up or down. This is a per-clip setting. Fly doesn’t have this at all.
As written, Replay does some really neat stuff. It has nice motion graphic titles, and the filters look nice. The only downside is that they are a little bit too fancy most of the time. I’d appreciate something more simple and subtle, because Replay has a nifty editor, and I would want to use the editor more for simple cuts.
Fly, as a runner-up, has some great features too. The guys at Fly have two other apps called Clips and Crop. Clips is built into Fly. Clips essentially displays all clips as a list, with ranges in them. When the video plays, this list plays from top to bottom, but only set ranges play. This is a great UI concept, and a great way to edit videos on mobile devices.
Fly adds more features though. The clips editor is pretty mindblowing, but the live-editing tool that allows to make transitions, straight cuts, and even picture-in-picture is even cooler. The editing process is fully driven by touch gestures. The downside? Once a clip is imported, this clip, be it directly imported to the Gesture Editor or a Clips editor clip, this first clip sets the length of the whole project. They have not added a function to set the length of a project after import. Fly resizes projects to 16:9.
Their Crop app is pretty impressive, too. It allows to set the “crop” of a portrait recorded video, but with the added twist, that the user can change this crop over time. This makes it possible to create more interesting from too static shots.
Pinnacle’s Studio app tries to be a full-blown desktop video editor, on iOS. The app was originally created by AVID, but they sold it some time ago. I really want to love Pinnacle Studio. For what it’s worth, it’s a great editor, and it’s, as mentioned, full-blown. Except that it’s not full-blown all the way through. Considering how many features this app has, it lacks some of the most basic ones, like setting a project frame size. It’s probably 4:3 or 16:9, I couldn’t figure out how to set it, and I have this app for a year or two. If you’re going anywhere non-square, then Pinnacle Studio is good. The themes look outdated, and not very appealing. Considering your ultimate goal, an engaging mobile video, here’s my recommendation: use the bare basics in this app. Add titles, do some cuts, but leave the themes alone.
The hidden contender, that ranks high in the App Store charts, is Cute CUT. The app has a free and pro version. I recommend the pro version. Cute CUT allows to set the project frame size even after the project has been created. I know it sounds like this shouldn’t be something I’d have to point out, but with Cute CUT, you can start a project in 16:9, and when you realize it doesn’t work out for YouTube, you can make it square and upload to Instagram instead.
The editor itself is more enjoyable than Pinnacle Studio. Cute CUT has a basic concept of keyframes. For every element, video, photo, text, drawing, you can set a transition. A transition essentially transitions all parameters set at the beginning, and interpolates the changes to those set at the end.
If you want to make the video fade in, set it too 100% transparent at the beginning, and 0% transparent at the end. If you also want to make the video fly in from the bottom. Just move the video out of the frame at the beginning, and make sure it’s in the frame at the end of the transition. Cute CUT will animate the changes over the set duration. Basic transitions, like fade and move, are built in.
Cute CUT has more features. Like mentioned there are more clip types that one can add to a project. Text is probably the most common one, but you can also draw on top of a graphic or movie. The app is by far not the most beautiful, but the features that are present knock out the other apps. For example Cute CUT has a neat way to set the drop shadow for an object more intuitively. There are some other niceties about this app, too.
Tools - Making It Square
Because all the video editors don’t allow much control over the crop of a video, you need an app that does just that. Video Crop, as the name implies, allows you to crop the video to any aspect ratio. It starts with custom, but you can choose 1:1, 4:3, and 16:9. As banal as that sounds, Video Crop is so useful for mobile video. It also has a basic trim editor on board, so you can eliminate unwanted parts at the very beginning of your editing process. Trimming also works inside the standard iOS Photos/Camera app.
I’d like to mention that the developer of Video Crop also has more apps, all of which are free with no in-app purchases, to rotate and flip video clips. Jin also has an app to do basic trimming only.
Mobivio, the creators of Cute CUT, also have an named Video Toolbox. The app is new, and it looks new. From what this app currently does, I suppose we see where Cute CUT will go. Video Toolbox potentially also is the app that would do things like rotate, flip, and crop, but it doesn’t at the moment. It does other nice things, though, like masking and chroma keying.