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Video Editing in the Cloud

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Editing on VEED.IO

I spent a good deal of time editing on VEED.IO over the 3-day full-functionality preview its PR department provided. The platform is a work in progress, but mostly in a good way. When I first tested VEED.IO, transitions were not available, which I verified with customer support; when I returned to confirm this observation days later, transitions had been added.

When you sign up for the service, you enter background information like name, the purpose of your videos (work or pleasure), business type, connections to send the videos to (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, website, or other), and experience level with editing (beginner, advanced, expert).

You can upload files from any source, including transferring from Dropbox. I uploaded a 350MB file, which was available for editing in just a few moments, It was impressive, although the audio/video synch was sketchy throughout. Timeline editing was primitive but functional. For example, the user interface offers no frame-by-frame advance and rewind, so you have to zoom into the timeline significantly to achieve frame accuracy. There are also no ripple deletes, so if you delete a section, you have to manually drag the remaining sections back to close the gap, which is a real pain when fine-tuning complete productions. Another rookie error was the inability to set the transparency of graphics overlaid on the videos.

One bright spot was in auto-captioning (Figure 6, below), which compared very favorably to the Adobe feature I raved about in a recent tutorial. To use this feature, click Subtitles in the toolbar, then Auto Subtitles. Next, choose the language of the spoken words and click Start. VEED.IO tran­scribes the audio into text and creates editable subtitles. The operation was prompt and reasonably accurate; in my technical, acronym-filled tutorial, I had to make several adjustments, but with typical spoken words, accuracy should be much higher.

VEED.io

Figure 6. VEED.IO did a great job with auto-captioning.

I wanted to experiment with collaboration, but with all of the services, you need two paid accounts. I barely got 3 days from VEED.IO, and asking for an extension and another account seemed like a bridge too far, so I have nothing to report on collaboration for VEED.IO and the other services.

Auto-Generation Features

It takes roughly forever to test even a limited function editor, so after the 3-day VEED.IO experience, I focused on the high points of other tools. One of my favorites was the blog-to-video tool in Lumen5, in which you paste in the URL of a blog post, and Lumen5 creates a video that you can edit as desired. After experimenting with several of my highly technical blogs with very limited success, I tried an SPCA video (Figure 7, below) with very good results. You can watch it at go2sm.com/lumen5. Note that the blog post it was created from is no longer available; hopefully, handsome Bobby has a great new home.

Lumen5

Figure 7. Lumen can turn a blog post into a video.

While I think the third element of the video is a questionable match, the rest are quite applicable. Certainly, this feature is worth checking out if you have nontechnical blog posts to share.

Script to Video Creation

Several tools can build complete videos from a script like the one shown in Figure 8 (below), which might be appropriate for a physician’s office.

Script to video

Figure 8. The script I used to build the video

Figure 9 (below) shows a video created by Raw Shorts’ Convert Text to Video feature, which is visually anemic but contains a nice auto-generated text-to-speech narration and pleasant background music. Note that I could have chosen a more animated template, but the free version doesn’t let you render a video with video backgrounds, even with a watermark. Play the video here.

Raw Shorts

Figure 9. A still from the automated video from Raw Shorts. I’d say the site has the watermarks and branding covered, don’t you?

I submitted the same script to Renderforest and got a much more compelling visual presentation (Figure 10, below), but no narration and some questionable music, at least for my ears. Still, with a touch of manual editing, you can see how you could create a very compelling presentation in just a few moments. I showed these videos to my physician wife, who called the Renderforest output “fabulous and amazing.” She went on to say, “These are great. Many people don’t want to read, and these are easy to understand and much better than if you simply filmed a person saying the same thing.”

Renderforest

Figure 10. The explainer video auto-generated by Renderforest. This one has a more reasonable watermark.

I should say that these sites are not the only three that offer these features, and I didn’t fully explore these or other features in the sites. Rather, while perhaps still a bit in the awkward adolescent phase, the features show where video is going with AI at the helm. Video may be the medium that everyone loves to deploy, but few have the time to craft their own videos by hand, particularly if from scratch.

For perspective, none of the consumer-ish editors will wrench my desktop version of Adobe Premiere Pro from my cold dead fingers for day-to-day projects, but these auto-generated videos are impressive and immediately usable for a broad swath of small and even large businesses. Vimond IO, and particularly Blackbird, could replace or augment Adobe Premiere Pro should my projects suddenly involve significant collaboration.

How about the Adobe cloud offering? Adobe Spark (Figure 11, below) leans on templates and stock assets interspersed with pithy marketing advice (“Branding is the art of differentiation. How are you setting yourself apart with the content you put out there?”). It deploys an easy-to-use storyboard editor, but little by way of auto-generated content, although there is a fully functional free trial. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an acquisition or two relating to cloud editing in Adobe’s future or, at the very least, some major advances to Adobe Spark or perhaps a totally new cloud editor.

Adobe Spark

Figure 11. Adobe Spark offers lots of templates and stock art.

Frame.io

Speaking of Adobe and acquisitions, what is Frame.io, and where does it fit in? And why did Adobe pay $1.275 million for it? According to Capterra, Frame.io is a tool “for medium and large-sized companies to privately upload, review and share media across the entire organization from one central hub.” So, it’s not a video editor and doesn’t compete with the products in this article.

What about valuation? To quote from Josh Stinehour’s excellent analysis for market research and strategic consulting services provider Devoncroft Partners, “We confess our first reaction to the acquisition price was that Adobe’s calculator has a sticky zero key.” After discussing Frame.io’s 1 million users, the piece cites a Bloomberg article that quotes Scott Belsky, Adobe’s chief product officer and EVP of Creative Cloud: “Adobe wanted to buy New York-based Frame.io after it realized that its customers were using it with Adobe’s suite of products. Adobe considered building its own tools to make it easier for teams to edit video together but ultimately decided to buy Frame.io instead.”

So, to answer the question I posed, the acquisition doesn’t fit in with online video editing, other than to highlight both the value of collaboration and Adobe’s willingness to buy technology it deems valuable.

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