Can a free cloud-based video editor that lives in your browser replace iMovie?
In three words: yes, it can. But whether you should use it instead of iMovie or an equivalent depends not on the functionality of the editor you need, as WeVideo can do what most of what iMovie does, but on what you need to do with your videos once they're finished.
WeVideo is a flash-based video editor that works in your browser. It has oodles of functionality that's more intuitive to use than iMovie, works on low-powered computers and incorporates a social aspect allowing more than one person access to shared media files no matter where they are. The catch? Well, the free version allows you to export just 15 minutes of video a month, allows for only 1GB of cloud storage, watermarks your videos and keeps the resolution low at 360p. If you want more cloud storage, longer videos and higher resolution you'll have to shell out some cash, starting at $2.99 per video for 480p, or subscriptions anywhere from $6.99 to $79.99 per month.
So, who is WeVideo for? If you have to pay a monthly fee, wouldn't it make more sense to buy a single license for an application bundle like Apple's iLife, which gives you iMovie, GarageBand and iPhoto all for only $49?
It depends. If you don't already have an editor you're using, you just need to make occasional videos and don't mind the watermarking and low-resolution, then it's great. If you're part of a team spread out all over, then the ability for different team members to have access to the same clips and tweak each other versions is extremely powerful. I can see it taking off in the production of commercials and films. The system seems so easy to use, as well as being so social, that I'm sure people will fall over themselves coming up with novel uses for this app. Camera phones are becoming more and more prevalent, so just think about how footage from weddings, demonstrations and other live events could be used, where all the participants would have access to the same pool of media files and craft their own version of the experience that they want to share with the world. Pretty exciting, huh?
To try out WeVideo yourself, just signup at their website. You'll be able to upload clips and start editing right away. That's what I did for the test video you see embedded in this post. The voiceover was recorded through the WeVideo app and all sound effects and music used come as part of the free package. While I had fun editing it, there was some frustration as the app can be flaky, not rendering transitions properly and overall, a bit crashy. WeVideo in its current state is not something you should use if you're on a tight deadline.
- Clean and understandable interface that looks great when browser is in full-screen mode.
- Uploading video is much less of a hassle than using the YouTube editor.
- Handy help bubbles take you through the process of learning the program.
- Social aspect is a fantastic idea, and should get even more powerful as the app develops.
- Quick video wizard subeditor works as a quick rough assemble.
- You can continue to edit while importing footage (though not edit a specific clip as it's importing as in Final Cut Pro X).
- Large number of soundtracks supplied.
- Easy to use audio narration feature.
- Nice snap to audio waveform feature.
- App can be crashy, had to restart browser multiple times while editing the test video.
- If you accidentally hit the back button on your browser, work can be lost.
- Can take a long time to upload clips, depending on the speed of your connection.
- Opaque error messages pop up from time to time.
- Monthly service cost can be impractical for single users.
- No image stabilization, slow or fast motion.
Try it. It's free to sign up and you can begin within minutes to teach yourself the art of editing. Just remember it's not stable yet, so don't use it for any mission critical work. If you're a heavy YouTube user, try out a version of WeVideo with slightly less functionality on YouTube Create.