6 easy-to-use video-editing tools

Creating a video sounds intimidating, but the right tools can make it a breeze. Try one of these beginner-friendly editing tools.

Video-viewing has surged recently on social media and other content marketing channels. In the past year, Facebook averaged more than 1 billion video views each day.

Video has become the go-to visual content for a huge number of businesses. You can create great videos too, no matter your resources or skills.

RELATED: Download your FREE guide on “How to create videos employees love.” Learn to craft videos that captivate and engage employees.

To help you create compelling videos, I tested five of the best video production apps available for amateur video producers, as well as one beginner-friendly video editor for Macs.

1. Nutshell

Nutshell helps you create mini-movies using photos. It will even create an audio track using the sounds captured when you snapped the photos.

  • Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch (requires iOS 8.0 or later)
  • Price: free (with Nutshell branding on the video)
  • Additional paid features: None

To create videos with Nutshell:

1. Snap three photos. When prompted, capture photos from within the Nutshell app.

2. Add captions. Choose from the animated text options, and insert a message.

3. Add graphics. Choose animated graphics to embellish each photo.

4. Preview your video. Self-explanatory.

5. Save and share. Share your video via social media, email or the Prezi website. Friends can even respond to your movie with Nutshell cartoons.

2. Magisto

Magisto makes it easy to transform photos and videos into edited movies complete with music and effects.

  • Compatible with: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch (requires iOS 7.0 or later), Android (compatibility varies by device), Windows (version 7 or later) and an online version available here.
  • Price: Free to try, but downloads cost $0.99.
  • Additional paid features: Unlimited cloud storage, longer movies, ability to upload 30 or more clips and photos into a video.

To create videos with Magisto:

1. Add photos and videos. Shoot video clips from within the app or select photos and videos from your camera roll.

2. Select an editing style. Choose a visual style for your video by perusing the app’s themes.

3. Select the soundtrack. Add music from Magisto’s library of licensed songs, or choose a song saved on your device. If you use a track from your personal playlist, don’t misuse copyrighted material.

4. Add the finishing touches. Select your video’s length. With a free basic account, users can create movies up to one minute and fifteen seconds long by uploading 10 photo or video files. Users with premium accounts can upload more files and create longer movies.

Create a title that will appear at the beginning of your video. (This is the only place to add text to your video.)

5. Use automated editing.

Magisto edits your video automatically. Magisto will choose the perfect filters or transitions based on the theme you selected in step two.

Once Magisto creates your video, you can make minor changes by adding or removing photo and videos clips or changing your theme and soundtrack.

6. Save and share. Share your video on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or email, or pay to download it.

Magisto recently released another app worth mentioning: Magisto Shot. The app turns a photo and text into a micro-movie.

It’s free to download, and is available for Android (4.0 or later), iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad (iOS 7.0 or later).

3. Animoto

Animoto simplifies video editing by limiting customization options and making most of the editing decisions for you.

Because it is so easy to use and has impressive results, Animoto is my favorite app on this list.

  • Compatible with: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch (requires iOS 7.0 or later), Android (requires 2.2 or later). Animoto has an online version as well as a plug-in for Lightroom so you can export your photos directly into Animoto.
  • Price: Free to try with plans starting at $9.99 per month.
  • Additional paid features: HD videos, longer videos, video downloads, cloud storage, more photos and videos to upload.

To create videos with Animoto:

1. Add photos and videos. Use photos and videos from your camera roll. The app cannot capture photos or videos.

2. Select an editing style. Add filters and embellishments by choosing a theme. The theme you select will determine how Animoto processes your clips.

3. Select a soundtrack. Animoto provides song options. If you use a song you purchased for personal use, ensure you follow copyright laws if you make your video public.

4. Add captions and titles. Animoto prompts you to include copy for intro and outro titles. You can also add captions and title screens with custom messages throughout your video.

5. Preview your video. Once Animoto creates your video, you can make minor changes.

6. Save and share. Share your video via Messages, email, Twitter or Facebook. If you upgrade to the paid version, you can save your video on your device.

4. Videoshop

Videoshop lets you create movies inside a relatively user-friendly interface without restricting you to a template format.

Compared to Magisto, Nutshell and Animoto, Videoshop’s creative control can be inspiring or intimidating depending on the user.

  • Compatible with: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch (requires iOS 7.0 or later)
  • Price: $1.99 to download
  • Additional paid features: None

To create videos with Videoshop:

1. Add photos and videos. Videoshop offers slow motion, time-lapse and stop motion when you capture video from within the app.

2. Add audio. Add sound effects or a song from Videoshop’s collection, or pick a song from your personal collection.

3. Organize clips. Arrange your clips in the order you want them to appear. You can also trim them to your ideal length.

4. Edit video. Videoshop has some advanced editing options, but not too many. This is the best of both worlds. For example, you can select various transitions to adjust how each clip flows into the next, but you can only make a limited number of minor adjustments to your audio.

However, this flexibility comes at a price. Since the app doesn’t transform your clips into a movie, producing a mesmerizing video will likely take more time and effort.

5. Add filters and a title. Select one of the provided filters to alter your video, or leave the footage as-is. You can also create a title using one of the provided templates, or create your own title with some basic text options.

6. Save and share. Save your video to your device, or share it on social media.

5. iMovie app

The iMovie app makes it easy for you to produce videos without a template’s limitations.

The iMovie app is similar to Videoshop in that it lets you make creative decisions. While iMovie is easier to use than Videoshop, the apps have comparable features.

  • Compatible with: iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch (requires iOS 8.3 or later)
  • Price: Download for $4.99
  • Additional paid features: None

To create videos with the iMovie app:

1. Select a format for your video. Choose from two formats: “Movie” allows you to create a unique video, and “Hollywood-Style Trailer” allows you to create a video that looks like a trailer for a Hollywood film.

2. Select a theme. For movies, choose from eight themes. You can add titles, transitions and music that fit your theme. However, you can bypass these theme options if you prefer to use titles, transitions and music from outside the theme.

For trailers, choose one of 14 trailer templates. Templates include titles, transitions and music. Customize the storyboard with your own video clips and photos, as well as a movie title, studio logo and character names.

3. Add photos and videos. Capture new photos and videos from within the iMovie app, or upload visual assets from your device.

iMovie automatically adds movement to your images. You can adjust the movement to your liking. The added movement will make your images more interesting and appropriate for the video.

With iMovie versions 2.1 and iOS 8, you can use an extension to enhance video clips right in your photos app.

4. Add audio files. Create a soundtrack using the included music and sound effects, or songs from your library. You can also record narration from within the app.

5. Edit your video. iMovie lets you pick clip transitions, add filters, edit your visual assets’ length and speed and make edits unavailable in some of the previously listed tools.

6. Save your video. Or share it via email or social media.

6. iMovie for Mac

If you want an easy-to-use video editor that gives you control over almost all aspects of your creation, iMovie is a great option. The Mac version is more robust than the app.

Even though the other video-editing options on this list are apps, I included iMovie for Macs because it is easy for beginners to use.

  • Compatible with: Mac computers (requires OS X 10.10.2 or later)
  • Price: $14.99 from the Mac App Store
  • Additional paid features: None

Because iMovie for Mac has many features, you can get wildly innovative.

To see how to create a video in iMovie for Mac, watch this demo:

Additional video resources

While creating the demo videos above, I discovered three great video resources:

1. YouTube Audio Library

If you need audio files to create soundtracks, download songs from the YouTube Audio Library. You can use the audio files in personal or commercial videos.

2. Distill

If you need stunning HD footage for personal or commercial videos, peruse Distill’s library for clips to download.

3. Pexels Videos

Like Distill, Pexels Videos offers free video-footage downloads for any project. Pexels has more clips than Distill.

While this list is only the tip of the iceberg for video production resources, the video editors and tools above are great starting places.

What video production tools have you tried? Have you tested any of the tools or resources above?

Leslie Belknap is the marketing director for Ethos3 and a member of the TEDxNashville board. A version of this article originally appeared on the Buffer blog.


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