Think about video editing toolsand you will probably imagine some zappy software for your computer, or a video editor app for your phone or tablet.
But what if we told you that you don’t have to invest in expensive editing suites and advanced workstations (if you want them, we’ve got the best video editing computers for editors and producers†
What if we told you you can quickly edit movies right in your browser with Online Movie Maker†
start with it
Set your favorite browser to Online Movie Maker and you’ll be honored with a bare-bones website with a handful of options. Upload your files, choose stock photos, select free music, change the background color and insert some text. This is video editing that is as accessible as it gets.
Using your own media is as simple as selecting the files you need on your drive. Although you will have to wait a while for them to be uploaded to the service’s servers. You also have a warning that your media will stay there for about 24 hours (or maybe less), so you better work fast.
The stock photos are from Pixabay. Search for specific keywords and then click on the thumbnails of the recordings you want to use. The selected ones will have an ‘added’ overlay, so that it is clear which one you have already chosen.
Those are just photos. If you prefer to use or upload photos from an alternative service stock videosyou have to go to their respective websites, grab them there and then upload them to ‘Online Movie Maker’ just like any other medium.
This process is also what you need to do when you click the service’s “Free Music” button: you’ll be given instructions on which URL to go to, how to music samples to your computer and how to upload it back to your project. All this is a bit complicated and time consuming.
Video editing in a browser
If you’re used to more traditional video editors, you’ll see your project’s timeline as something to build from left to right. Not so here. The whole interface feels top-down, which can be confusing.
You have a column for Music, one for Background, another for Main and one for Text. The last column on the right is labeled Preview, which gives you full-length thumbnails of your project.
Select a thumbnail and click the gear icon to manipulate that particular clip. Here you can access cropping, opacity, rotation, volume and playback speed tools. You also have an ‘effect’ button to add as many filters to your chosen clip as you want.
This is also where you can choose a transition to enter or exit your clip. You can select the duration, style and even movement.
It’s all simple enough, but there’s one problem: click the play button to see the results of your changes, and you may have to wait a long time. Very long even. We tried it ourselves several times and got no further than 0%.
This makes it quite difficult to see if the changes you make are beneficial to your final output.
Global effects and transitions
Scroll under your media columns to find common transitions controls, and video effects†
The process is exactly the same as for individual clips, except these changes affect all clips in a specific column.
Column to column
You will see that you can move clips from one column to another, essentially they are used as multiple video layers. The Background column is at the bottom of the stack, so if a clip is present in the main column in the same time frame, you’ll see it in the finished product instead of the one below it.
Although our problems persisted with not being able to view the changes we were making. So we chose to ‘Make’ the movie to see what it looked like.
The process will take a while for your movie to appear. But when you’re done, you’ll get a small video preview that you can play at will. At least that’s the theory. For some reason, our video only previewed a series of still thumbnails.
Wait long enough (more than half an hour for a 1:30 min video in our case) and we should be able to see a preview of the finished work. Perhaps this is the same problem when viewing individual clips. But who has that much time to wait to preview a clip?
We thought this might be a glitch in our browser and opted to download the video (something you only have an hour before the link expires). Right click on the link and choose ‘download linked file’.
Fortunately, the downloaded movie worked as expected – full motion, with transitions and effects.
Problems editing videos in a browser
Could our problems be due to the browser we were using (Safari v.15.2)?
To check, we tried all of the above with Firefox (v.99.0.1). Unfortunately, we ran into the same issues: no clip preview, changes, effects, or transitions – both for individual clips and for the entire column/layer.
So we have to conclude that these glitches would affect all users – at least during the time we tried the service. The downloaded file did show all the editing decisions we made.
The idea of being able to edit directly from your web browser is interesting, but there are far too many hurdles and problems to recommend this service for that purpose.
The concept of columns as opposed to layers is new, and it’s always good to see people challenging the established format – that’s how things can improve for the better, and there are a myriad of effects and transitions to select from.
We loved the ability to apply them to a single clip or an entire column as well. However, if you can’t preview your media or your entire project, this is really a deal breaker. Even if the downloaded project looks good, any changes you make up to that point are essentially guesswork, and that’s no way to edit a video — no matter how short.