Popular online design platform Canvas has long been the place to quickly and effortlessly design images for social media, flyers, magazines, business cards, book covers, and anything else you want to drag and drop onto the page.
With additional editing tools available, it’s just a beginner-friendly graphic design software† Photo editorlogo maker, PDF editorand DTP software platform in one.
And you can count free video editing software also in that bundle.
At a glance
+ Platform: Web, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
+ Prices: Free, subscription
When we last reviewed Canva’s free video editor, we found the slideshow service “interesting,” noting that it “has enough tools and content so you can make them all for free.”
However, many core features were behind the Canva Pro subscription, and we were frankly let down by a severe lack of audio editing software tools to add voiceovers to a video, for example.
Since then, the super-accessible design site has become extremely popular and a wealth of new features and tools have been added to simplify the creation process.
But as the platform’s user base has grown, has the free video editing app also advanced to meet modern marketing and movie needs?
Canva Video, like almost every tool and service on the platform, is completely free to use. Once you sign up for an account, you can start cutting your movie with your own media and Canva’s decent selection of stock elements, and fill up your free 5GB cloud storage† No credit card required.
As you would expect, the free version has certain limitations. To have a huge library of stock photos† stock moviesand design, you need to upgrade to Canva Pro. Subscriptions start at $12.99 / £10.99 per month or $119.99 / £99.99 per month, billed annually for up to 5 users.
Designed for teams and businesses, this subscription plan includes a branded kit to easily access your company’s colors, a one-click background remover, and the content planner and scheduler, a simple social media management tool†
We’ve always reviewed Canva’s easy UI and UX, and Canva Video is incredibly easy to navigate. Most actions only require drag and drop or a right-click, making it an ideal video editor for beginners or those who create short, simple videos with professional results without the industry-standard features of Adobe Premiere Pro (or the many) Premiere Pro Alternatives†
There is no reinvention of the wheel here. On the left are the tools to create templates, upload media, add design elements and text, and customize the canvas to your liking. The timeline is at the bottom of the screen, with the viewer above it. Additional download and share controls are in the top right corner. It’s as uncluttered as a video editor can be.
Getting your media into the free video editor is equally easy. Pressing ‘Upload’ allows you to quickly switch between uploading images, videos and audio – with files listed under each tab. It’s not particularly fast, but you do have the option to add media to the timeline and start editing while it’s still uploading to the Canva servers.
We especially appreciated the broad support for photo cloud storage providers. You can add media to Canva via Facebook, Google DriveInstagram, Dropboxand Google Photos† You even get the option to record yourself or use the tool as free screen recording software for windows, tabs, or your entire desktop.
In terms of looks and functionality, Canva Video is not a million miles away from the vanished, but not forgotten, Windows Movie Maker or the recently relaunched, Microsoft ClipChamp. It’s definitely an improvement over the ultra-utilitarian Microsoft Video Editor† To a certain extent. Use the handles to trim clips or right click to duplicate and split them. Very easy. It’s also easy to replace one clip with another by placing the new video on top of the existing one in the timeline.
Vertical videos are cropped to fit in the 16:9 ratio by default, with the option to resize behind the Canva Pro suite. However, if you upgrade, you’ll find plenty of custom sizing options, as well as presets for social networks like Instagram and Facebook, leading to a much more efficient workflow for promotion and marketing teams.
These basics aside, it can actually be a chore to edit videos – Canva Video is best suited for videos without too many cuts and effects. Think slideshow-style presentations, social media videos, animated images, and shareable GIFs. This is where the app excels, valuing speed and convenience over polished perfection.
That’s not to say the app isn’t capable of producing beautiful videos with longer run times. It’s just not the best platform for it and the process takes more time than it needs to. For professional free video editor apps, light works† HitFilmand DaVinci Resolve all of them offer powerful Hollywood-style video editing experiences.
Audio and Effects
When we last reviewed Canva Video, we weren’t impressed with the lack of audio cropping tools – a bug that has thankfully been fixed. Now you can add and trim multiple tracks just as easily as videos. What’s especially nice is the way the tracks collapse to save space, and only unfold when clicked. Unfortunately, there isn’t much else in the way of editing tools, with only the option to adjust the volume and fade in and out audio.
Visual ‘effects’ are quite limited. There’s nothing standing in the way VFX software – you need a tool like Adobe after effects or a After Effects Alternative therefore. But you can overlay videos with pre-made (and often customizable) images and text and then animate them. For example, having your company name tumble on the screen. You can also add videos to videos by dragging a clip to the viewer instead of the timeline. Like other elements, these videos can be animated.
It’s simple, but again, it’s simplistic. It is certainly easy enough to apply these animated effects to selected designs. However, there’s no way to time effects – they stay on screen until that clip ends. There’s also no way to stop an effect – if an image slides from the left on the screen, it will always slide to the right. The only solution we found was to export a video of the effect, then re-add that video to the timeline and crop the video before the “exit” animation.
Still, the selection – even at the free level – is pretty good. And while plenty of effects, elements, and designs have paywalls, Canva allows you to place them in your video to preview them — they’re just watermarked unless you upgrade. But beyond that, Canva Video offers free video editing without watermarks.
Performance and results
Canva Video is not built for performance. It’s not a CPU intensive editing app. As a browser-based tool (with free apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android) also available), you have the best video editing computers and video editing laptops† Canva Video is one of the best video editing software for low-end PCs, but we noticed it slowed down a few times, especially when importing longer clips and previews at a later stage.
After you’ve created your video, you can share it directly to social media — again, keeping Canva’s primary audience in mind — or export it in HD as an MP4 file or GIF.
We would have liked to see support for more video formats, but on the other hand, it is possible to export videos as PDF or JPG, leading to pages and pages of screenshots, which is certainly new.
In our testing, a short 1:50 minute video took just over two minutes to render; a 5 minute video lasted 3:20 minutes.
Canva Video is a great free video editor that is ideal for anyone who wants to quickly create short films and marketing assets. Editing is easy and provides a good introduction to the art, with plenty of customizable design elements and templates – so even if you’ve never used video editing software before, Canva makes the whole process a breeze.
However, that simplicity means that the tool just isn’t powerful enough for large-scale editing projects, or anything that requires more than a few cuts, transitions, and basic effects. And we’re okay with that.
Canva Video is not made for professional editors. Like the graphic design platform, the service is designed for marketing teams and small businesses that want to quickly ramp up their visual media output without having to learn an entirely new skill. On that score it performs admirably. So the real danger is how likely it is that your business will outgrow the free video editor app.
Shall I buy?
- You want a simple video editor to create videos and GIFs for social media. Canva Video makes creating and sharing clips easy.
Do not buy if…
- You want professional tools and intricate control over the entire editing process. Canva Video is best for short and simple clips, not long videos.