For video editing software hidden in the Windows Photo editor app, we weren’t expecting much from anything.
The last time we reviewed Microsoft Video Editor, we praised it for offering “a good selection of tools for the budding video editor whose goal is to quickly create a fun movie.” Yes, it has limitations if you are looking for a powerful video editor with full features. However, for the basics, it got an impressive 4-star rating.
But what new features, effects, and tools has Microsoft added since then?
The thing is, at first glance there doesn’t seem to be anything new. We even noticed that the ‘automatic video’ option is not present when you create a new project. Is Microsoft Still Trying To Emulate Apple? Yes, Apple removed this feature when they left iMovie 6 and called it an upgrade, but that was over a decade ago.
We’ve had trouble finding information to notify us of new features. The problem with having a tool inside another tool is that most people focus on the main function of that tool – which is what you can do with the photo storage app.
That’s why we decided to take a closer look at what you can do with Microsoft Video Editor. And if it feels different from the last time we checked.
First you need to insert clips to work with. You can get them from Photos’ own library, find them on your PC, or delete them from your cloud storageas long as that is cloud account Microsoft OneDrive, which integrates well here. It seems that you cannot connect to another online service. A Microsoft app that forces you to use a Microsoft service. Who would have thought that?
The concept of editing is the same as before. Each clip is represented by a thumbnail of exactly the same size, regardless of the length of the clip. This makes them easy to see, but it can be confusing when a 2-second clip is the same length as a 30-second clip.
What’s frustrating is that you can’t preview a clip before adding it to your project. Sure, you can see a thumbnail of it, but how do you know it’s the right clip of Harry when you’re looking at three different clips of Harry shot on the same day?
There is also no way to toggle points on or off to insert just the section you want. Of course, you have a trim tool at your disposal, but only if the clip has been added to the timeline.
The playhead is also a problem. Normally, you’ll get a playhead over the timeline (called “Storyboard” here) so you know what you’re seeing in the main preview window and how it’s connected to your project. There is no playhead. Yes, you do have a playhead in the preview window, but not on the timeline, creating a disconnect that is hard to reconcile and harder to work with.
Another problem that still exists is the lack of support for ‘modern’ file formats. We used quotes because they aren’t exactly modern. They’ve been in use for almost five years now, which is an eternity in computer terms. However, the support is not standard.
You can go to the Microsoft Store and grab the necessary extensions. The HEIF photo extension is free. You have to pay for the HEVC extension for videos.
It’s only $0.99/79p, but this is a multi-billion dollar multinational that we’re talking about. They could easily absorb that cost, as do many smaller companies that support that format by default. That’s Microsoft at its worst.
Proportions and reframing
We no longer live in a world where projects are all produced in the same format. Nowadays we have to make sure that we make a video in the aspect ratio that is most suitable for the social media platform on which it is destined to be seen. TikTok? 9:16. Instagram? 1:1. Twitter? Ideally 1:1, but they are quite flexible. Youtube? Ideally 16:9. You get the picture (and so does your captivated audience).
How does Microsoft Video Editor handle this? Well, you can scroll down a menu and choose between 16:9 or 4:3, or crop the image to fit a portrait orientation (essentially 9:16 or 3:4).
Couple that with the reframe button to remove black borders, and you could use this app to resize a project at will. Although you will need to trim this for each of your clips – there is no ‘change all’ option that we could find.
Except that the reframing is automatic without AI concerned. It will be framed to the center no matter what happens in the clip. If the action is right of left, it could be cropped and we couldn’t find a way to manually change the framing.
Not all bad
It’s not all bad. There are some nice features hidden in this video editing software. You have access to a library of 3D effects and objects to add to your video. It’s fun indeed. Just not particularly useful. Results are not going to compete with the top 3D modeling software or visual effects software Like it Adobe after effects†
The editing options are quite small and we felt that these tools could be so much better than they are.
You also have some ready-made color filters and ‘Motion’ is a way to pan and zoom in and out of your clip. There is a list of wallpapers music samples to choose from, with an interesting option to ‘sync your video to the beat of the music’ that actually worked quite well.
When you’re done, it’s time to export your project. You get three quality options, the best standard is chosen. Hard to understand why some want to save their work with a lower quality than the best, but at least you have that option when you need it.
Microsoft Video Editor is an extremely simple video editing tool, with very limited options. Cutting a movie is more cumbersome than it should be. Worse, there don’t seem to have been any decent improvements in a while. This is Windows Movie Maker without any charm (or nostalgia, for that matter). †
There are competing free video editor apps that do better than this. At least it comes bundled with your PC, so you don’t need to install anything extra and you have the best video editing computers to start editing. That’s a big plus in his favor. But there’s little else to recommend until Microsoft bolsters the program’s toolkit.