July 26, 2017

Allatoona Lake – A Recreational Lake, Cartersville, Ga. (iPhone Video Test)

Allatoona Lake – A Recreational Lake, Cartersville, Ga. (iPhone Video Test)

Video production using iPhone and various iPhone application software to produce video solely using an iPhone. VIP editor is Cute Cut, FiLMiC Pro (video camera application with manual control of exposure, focus and zoom features).

Production Notes:

So, after several weeks of working with Cute Cut, an iPhone application for video editing, I still have yet to run into any major issues when reaching for basic tools to produce decent videos.

The key to Cute Cut’s appeal, is its two video track editing ability which opens up the BRoll style editing most video producers grow accustomed to. Today, I actually went ahead and deleted iMove from my iphone, freeing up 1.2 Gb of space from my storage. Wont need it, especially when it only offered one video track to edit on.

In the video production above, which focused on video material taken while attending an event at Allatoona Lake located in Cartersville, Ga., I covered the usual suspects of features such as A-B Roll fading, image, audio and watermark tracks included.

Though the inclusion of other key features would make Cute Cut that much better such as rippling, repositionable tracks, individualized video and audio subtrack control in each of the video tracks, and a more robust text box feature set, for the most part, the core video editing feature sets are there.

One thing I did different in this video was to create a stand alone audio file from one of my video files. I needed an underlying audio ambiance track, and the only way to get it was either using “only audio” from a video track, which Cute Cut didn’t allow, or to actually find a video to audio converter for the iPhone and create one.

So that is what I did.

Typing in the search “video to audio converter” in the Apple Apps store didn’t return as many results as I would have hoped, only twelve. Out of those twelve, I tried two, and ended up using Video To Audio by Bill Santiago.

For the most part VideoToAudio did the job. One thing I didn’t like was how it needed to import the entire video file first, and then saved the resulting file into its own directory structure. This required me to then send the file to Cute Cut. Cute Cut then placed it into a “shared folder” where things end up when you send stuff to Cute Cut. So, at the end of the day, I have extra files on my iDevice inside VideoToAudio taking up space. The other programs I looked at for video-to-audio conversion got complicated where they didn’t even allow exporting to a program, or required the file to be sent to a central online server. These appeared to be obstructions to a clean work flow preventing easy access to the converted file, or an internet connection which is an unreasonable requirement when producing video in the field.

So, at the end of the day, the key workflow change in this video production verses the other one’s I’ve already produced using Cute Cut is the step of extracting a video’s audio using an external application. No big deal, but I think Cute Cut would have avoided this sidestep by simply allowing its audio track to be able to select a video file to use its audio only.

Another key production concept not really new, but is worth mentioning here is the need to be able to fix your focus during recording.

The built in video recorder on the iPhone does not allow for independent control of the focus or exposure settings when recording video. Both of these features are available on FiLMiC Pro.

Being able to designate focus points and exposure settings manually while recording video on an iPhone is a valuable feature during recording. As you see in the above video, when wave’s of the lake rolled into the shore, the fixed video camera wanted to adjust focus when each wave rolled in. This caused the focus on the camera to “hunt” for a focus point, resulting in the twitchy video for that segment.

To fix this, I used a preset focus point in the subsequent video segments which required it therefore resolving the focus hunting issue. FiLMiC Pro’s manual exposure setting capability also is an important video recording feature. Although the lighting conditions didn’t warrant the use of FiLMiC Pro’s manual exposure setting feature, its a great feature to have under challenging lighting conditions.

picked two to tryout. . Not to my surprise, there were many video to audio tracks available.

Vol: 20140713_1155MX

Multi-Track Video Editing on the iPhone 5s using Mobivio’s Cute Cut

This video was produced entirely using an iPhone 5s.

After searching for a decent video editor application, I ended up using Cute Cut primarily because it allowed two video tracks on the editing timeline. It didn’t stop there, allowing multiple photo, audio and “write on”, and separate text tracks as well.

Cute Cut Screenshot - Multiple media track editing capability 01_1280xAUTO.JPG

You will need a fast iPhone such as the iPhone 5s or above to be able to handle multiple video tracks as well as the real time scrubbing, and playback during the editing session.

Oddly, Cute Cut had a low price tag compared to the very overpriced Vizzywig going for just under $30. Both Vizzywig and Apple’s iMovie were disappointing to use because of their single video track editing timeline user interphase – a surprise because Apple developed Final Cut Pro.

There is a learning curve associated with getting used to how things work in Cute Cut. But the many hours it took for me to learn it in order to produce this video was worth it.

However, I would do a couple of things differently.

First, I would create clean BRoll tracks for both photographs and video material separately then use a master project to merge all the final media together. This keeps the pressure off the iPhone’s processor to avoid it getting bogged down.

Mastering BRoll tracks separately also makes for a cleaner editing window, especially when working with the small iPhone screen. I will confess I used a stylus most of the time when working in Cute Cut.

All of the timeline is accessible at once. That is, anywhere you are you can place play and the video will play immediately incorporating the segments, settings, transitions in real time. I did notice a slight pause at the beginning of a major edit sequence. However, Cute Cut plays all elements in the timeline as you would see them on a final render. That is something some applications, even desktop versions, won’t offer. Especially while editing, real time and on-the-fly.

And if your thinking something must be wrong with this $5.99 app? Well, look again. Even the final render times were quick and silky. The new video ends up in the camera-roll and not hidden in a special proprietary directory somewhere inside the application. The final video is immediately available for viewing and sharing from your iPhone.

Cute Cut Pro 1.5.1 was the version used for this test production and was the latest version available by the posting of this article.

Cute Cut customer service was also very responsive, which in itself is quite remarkable given the fly by night application development practices demonstrated by many newly released iPhone applications.

During my communications with the developer, I proposed a number of key basic feature enhancements. To make their application much more efficient for core video editing, I proposed features such as:

  1. Ability to group multiple segments together on a timeline;
    1. Having the ability to group a number of individual segments together (of any media type such as video, photo, or text), usually done across different tracks, will allow the segments to travel with each other when minor position adjustments are made to any one of them.
    2. This grouping “protection” can then be toggled on or off as needed to add or remove segments needing to be grouped together.
    3. Without grouping, each segment on the track will require to be moved individually, which is not an efficient workflow, or even a non-starter for those who know their editing style may be heavily dependent on grouping elements along the time line. Lower third title bars which appear at specific points along the timeline can now be easily configured to track its above or below related track.
  2. To ripple or not to ripple when inserting or removing media segments on any timeline;
    1. The basic concept around rippling is when a segment is being inserted, or removed, somewhere on the timeline. When rippling is active on the editing screen, anything inserted into the cursor location on a specific track will then be inserted and items to the right will be pushed over the length that the segment is. If it is a 10 second video, then items are pushed over that length. For photos, the default image insertion length is then the amount the items are pushed over to the right when rippling is active. Grouped items also will follow suit.
    2. Sometimes rippling is not desired for instance, to fill in a space in the time line or when an item is removed. The ability to simply extract an item from the time line, again such as a particular image on the images track, is simply removed. If an image is inserted, then that image is simply inserted. No other effects are incurred up or downstream on the track where the segment is either inserted or removed. On occasion a segment may be longer than the space it is trying to be inserted in. In this case, and when rippling is turn off, and which is the case in other editors, the item actually will be inserted, and then overlap into any adjacent segments to its right. This introduces another feature, of automatic blending when images are pushed together, another feature which would make sense for Cute Cut.
    3. With rippling off, any minor adjustments to the length of an image file also will not cause any other movement down or up stream on the same track. Again, allowing for tweaks to the individual segment, without any changes or disruption to the rest of the track. Remember, all the other images on the track were carefully placed at key points on the track to appear at a specific time. Without ripple control, modifications to tracks by insertion or removal as well will be more precise and predictable.
  3. The ability to replace a media segment is also an important feature to have.
  4. Cute Cut Screenshot 02 Missing Media Segment indication IMG_3390_1280xAUTO.JPG
    1. Lets say you have a segment of video which needs to be replaced by perhaps a better copy of that same clip, or with another clip. A simple replace media option could be deployed allowing the user to then go into the camera-roll and designate the replacement media. This would be a valuable feature as well when perhaps, the clip was deleted from the camera-roll.
    2. Cute Cut already will load a project without all of its media available in the camera-roll. In this case, when media is discovered to be missing, Cute Cut indicates so by applying a special color and note at the segment’s location, but leaves the project timeline in tact. Taking it one step further, using a simple replace media option, the user can then go back into the camera-roll and locate the missing segment, or designate an entirely different segment all together to replace the missing segment.
  5. The ability to copy segment settings such as transitions, cropping, or other effects that have been applied to a particular segment is also a valuable feature to have.
    1. Here, a simply copy settings of a segment would be useful to then apply those settings to “all” or to designated segments. Settings such as fade in, fade out, crop, or other special effects could then be “batch” applied to other segments without the painstaking process of repeating all the settings individually.
  6. Video, photo and perhaps some audio enhancements to media segments such as brightness, contrast, special effects, straightening, perspective, crop, noise-reduction, reverse, slow-motion, etc.
    1. The developer has already indicated that this type of control over media appearance is in the works. Now, there are not basic adjustments that can be applied inside the application without first processing the segment using perhaps another application. So its in the interest of the developer to make some form of media adjustment ability in their own program, to keep the user from venturing off into another competitor’s application.
  7. Ability to re-position tracks in the editing window to better align related tracks closer to each other such as lower third elements which may use multiple tracks to build their composition; on this same note, a “snap” feature to items not only on the same track, but to better align with items above and below the working track; and
    1. Two things. Reverse the priority of the tracks from top to bottom, to bottom to top. Or better yet, allow a configuration option to allow global configuration settings to the application to allow the user to determine which tack will “cover” the other track. Now, it is the lower track that will “overlap” the track that is on top. Desktop applications actually use the reverse the case by making the “higher” track the overlapping track.
    2. Furthermore, allowing the user to move entire tracks up or down would help with workflow organization during editing.
  8. Ability to apply a basic set of text alignment settings to text segments, as well as text box effects is also a very useful, and effective feature to have.
    1. To apply justification (left, center, right) to a text segment will go along way to maximizing the appearance and versatility of text fields in the video.
    2. A particular more refined text size adjustment could also be deployed to allow the text box to have different sized text. Perhaps on a line by line basis, where text on one line can be certain size, and the next, another size. The most control will allow individual letter, or word based text/font modifications, a feature sometimes not seen too often in various computer based video editors.
    3. In the same category of text based features to have, is actual control of the text box characteristics such as borders, background colors, and color and/or image fills, with of course a transparency adjustment setting.

The above wish list of features may seem like a lot, but for now, if implemented, would elevate Cute Cut to a level even further above other iPhone video editors who are stuck at one video track editing.

Already, Cute Cut saw the wisdom of providing multitrack editing, not just for images, audio, but for video as well. Editing on the iPhone is not easy, the screen is small, and you will most likely be using a stylus. As such, any software used on these micro-platform devices needs to be efficient and intuitive.

There are thousands of multimedia applications to choose from in the Apple Store. And because of the no refund policy, most people with just stick with what they bought because experimenting can cost money. If you going to throw a dart towards the video editing board, try throwing it at Cute Cut as you begin your quest.

In recapping the benefits of using Cute Cut for iPhone video editing, I would start off with its multi-video track editing capabilities. But it doesn’t stop there, add extra tracks to the master timeline for images, text, and audio. In the sample video above, I used two video tracks, four separate photo tracks, two audio tracks, and a “write on” track. The project size was approximately three minutes in length.

two text tracks, four image tracks, and two audio tracks.

When exploring video editing on the iPhone, the challenge was to produce entire video on the device to include recording the video and taking the pictures. I was even able to record into the timeline a separate audio voice over track as well. It was simply a joy, after a mild learning curve, to see just how intuitive and digitally ergonomic Cute Cut was while making this video.

The Cute Cut application, to include its off the shelf features and low price tag make it a goto application for producing professional video’s without touching a laptop, and most certainly desktop computer.
Cute Cut’s primary advantage of providing two video tracks to work with gave it the edge it needed over most of the popular competitors on the market at the time this video was made. It also provided for a full set of expected editing feature such as positionable transition effects, to include panning and cropping on each segment on each track individually, to include the audio track.

Cute Cut’s refined control of all material in the master project timeline made it stand out among the other more popular, and even more expense applications such as iMovie and Vizzywig ($30).

Given the developer’s responsive customer service, and interest to adopt many of my proposed feature enhancements, I have no problem recommending Cute Cut as a video editor of choice on the iPhone.

Copyright MichaelUribe.com 2014

Link: Cute Cut

Developer Notes:

MobiVio Solutions was established in 2008. We strive to develop the most innovative applications for mobile devices. Mobile applications are our passion. We own a set of cross-platform technology for mobile application development, so we can support almost any mobile platform.

Link: MoviVio