I'll bet that your smartphone is full of lots of little video clips. You know, ones that you make when you see something cute, surprising or beautiful. They may be nice mementos, but I'll also bet they are not great examples of cinematography. Instead of just leaving these clips in their raw state on your phone, you can use apps to trim off unneeded parts, string clips together or add special effects.
One great video editor for Apple's iOS devices is called Cute Cut. This app feels as if it might be for professional users, with clean graphics and smartly designed menus. Advice windows pop up over its display to help get you started. Click on the plus button to create a new movie, and then select whether your final edited movie will be high-definition or standard, and in landscape display or portrait.
The app's main editing window then pops up. Here is where you add and edit movie clips. Each clip is organized on the app's timeline display, and you can stack several clips to be added together to make your final movie.
A double tap on each clip lets you crop its size, trim its length or tweak other features like the original audio volume. You can also add transitions which are movie effects, like a fade between clips. There are also options to add music or commentary, text boxes or still photos.
Cute Cut is very powerful, but occasionally its menu system is confusing. I found it tricky to add transitions between clips because the tools to do so weren't obvious from the various icons and buttons in the app.
The basic app is free on iTunes, but it prints a "made with Cute Cut" watermark on your movies and limits their length. A $4 upgrade through an in-app purchase removes both these restrictions.
A similarly powerful app for Android, with a friendly icon-based interface, is called Andromedia Video Editor (free on Google Play). It can add transitions, insert still photos and edit the audio accompaniment. The app's interface is simpler than Cute Cut's. For example, each clip you are adding is represented by an icon on the main display. Special-effects transitions are shown as a different icon between your clip icons. To edit a clip or adjust a transition, you tap on its icon. When you are finished, you can save your movie or immediately share it on YouTube.
For free software, this app is both powerful and fun to use, but don't expect precision editing powers or a wide array of video effects. I also managed to crash it a couple of times.
For a simpler and more straightforward video editing on iOS, I like Video Edit (free on iTunes) for its minimal design and easy-to-use interface, but it has limits. All you can do is stack movie clips from your video archive together into one bigger production. It does let you trim each clip (through a double-tap on the little thumbnail image representing the clips), but there are no clever cinemalike transitions available to link the clips.
When you are finished, a click on the tick mark saves your final movie or lets you share it by e-mail, Facebook or YouTube.
An alternative movie editing app that does most of the tricky technical stuff for you is Magisto -- Magical Video Editor (free on iOS and Android). Use it to create cute movies and overlay them with special effects. Simply select clips and a special video effect (from options like "Sentimental" or "Let's Party"). These add colors, blurs, sparkles and so on.
You can also add a song from its short list of music offerings. It takes a few minutes to produce the final video, and while it is often something that would be fun to share with family or friends on Facebook, it is not going to win you an Oscar.
On the downside, this app can be confusing to use, and it requires you sign up for an account before you can save your final movies.
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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.