How to Edit Videos on a Smartphone

It’s a common misconception among videographers and filmmakers that video editing can’t be done on a smartphone or tablet. With today’s technology  and intuitive app design editing video on a smartphone is easier than ever.

Photo by Jackson Hayes on Unsplash

There are a ton of video editing apps available for both iPhone and Android devices that give you nearly endless editing options. Whether you’re shooting a full-length film or shorter videos for social media, you can edit your videos with no computer or expensive editing software required. So, let’s edit videos on a smartphone together in this nifty guide.

Which Video Editing App is Best?

The first step in editing video on your smartphone is finding the right app. Depending on what your needs are, you may need to try a few out to decide which one meets your needs the best. For reference, our favorite options – and the ones talked about in the video above – are InShot, Vita, and Splice because they’re easy to use and packed to the brim with smartphone video editing necessities.

For both Androids and iPhones, you’ll have the option of free and paid apps. Some apps may be free but require a one-time payment or subscription to access certain features. No mobile filmmaker wants to spend money unnecessarily, however, so we’ve gathered a list of the Best Free Video Editing Apps.

Some apps also allow you to film video from the app itself rather than your phone’s camera app. Again, depending on your specific needs this may be beneficial to you, especially if the app allows you to access the features you need to create your ideal content.

You can also do some editing in your smartphone’s camera app. You won’t be able to make any significant changes, but you can trim the length of the video and apply a couple of different filters. If you want to do any more advanced edits, you’ll need to download an app. Personally, I use this trim feature to make edits before uploading my clips into the editor as it streamlines the editing process.

As previously mentioned, your editing needs will vary based on the type of content you’re creating and the level of editing you require. It doesn’t hurt to download a few different ones to compare and contrast their features. You might find that a certain app suits your workflow better than others, or certain features work better on a specific app.

Some apps also give you the option of uploading straight to social media, if that’s your goal. Ease of use is an important quality to have in an editing app, so it’s crucial that you find one you can work with. There’s no sense in spending hours editing your videos if most of that time is spent trying to figure out how to access the features you need.

There’s nothing wrong with using multiple editing platforms as well. I’m likely to use Vita’s video templates to implement graphics, InShot to polish an Instagram Reel edit, and Final Cut Pro on my Macbook to edit a full length Youtube video. There’s no singular right answer here, so find a workflow that works for you.

Start with Quality Mobile Footage

Photo by Nguyễn Lê Hoài Châu on Unsplash

It’s worth noting that in order to have footage worth editing, it needs to be high quality in the first place. Editing is meant to polish your work and take it to the next level, not make up for mediocre filmmaking.

Are you shooting your video in the native camera app of your phone? If you answered yes to that question, then you must read about the best apps for mobile filmmakers because manual control is an absolute must.

Good lighting is crucial to professional quality video. Whether you’re filming something for TikTok or are beginning your career in filmmaking, lighting can make or break your success.

Shooting with a smartphone instead of a camera means you’re working with a much smaller image sensor, so you need to be conscious of where your light is coming from and how it’s affecting your subject.

You also need to make sure you’ve eliminated camera shake from the equation. If you’re shooting a stationary scene, a tripod is the way to go. It will keep your smartphone steady and prevent your viewers from being distracted by the shaky footage.

If you’re shooting movement, a tripod can be difficult to work with, so you should opt for a gimbal stabilizer. These devices can have either two or three axes. Two-axis gimbals correct for rolling and pitching motions, while three-axis gimbals also correct for yaw, which a swinging side-to-side movement.

While you’re shopping for gear, you might also consider a new detachable lens for your smartphone. An anamorphic lens in particular is a popular choice for mobile filmmakers as it adds a certain cinematic flair you just can’t get with other lenses.

Anamorphic lenses give you that widescreen aspect ratio and classic black bars on the top and bottom of your footage. Combined with the Hollywood-style lens flares, an anamorphic lens is sure to step up your filmmaking game.

Finally, don’t forget the audio. You can film the most beautiful scene of your career but if your audio is subpar, nobody is going to want to watch it. Of course, editing does allow you to add audio afterwards, but it’s still important to have high quality audio to start with. If you’re looking for a cheap smartphone microphone that gets the job done, then consider this offering from Neewer. Not convinced you need one? Watch this video about starting a Youtube channel on your phone.

Interested in improving faster? Consider one of these Moment Lessons – I’ve taken all three and can attest to how the Jesse Driftwood and Andy To lessons improved my mobile filmmaking.

Beginner Video Editing Tips ON MObile

video editing tips
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

After you’ve chosen the app you’d like to use for editing and have filmed the perfect video, it’s time to get down to the actual editing process. Editing is one of the most subjective aspects of mobile filmmaking, so you’re going to need to use your best judgement.

Some filmmakers are fine with minimal editing, while others will spend hours on a single scene. The time you spend editing and what you do to your video is up to you but be sure to save your edits as separate files. This way, if you change your mind about how you’ve editing the clip, you can start over if necessary.

Depending on the video editing app you’re using, you should be able to add text, overlays, music, or special effects. Most apps will also allow you to select several different clips to splice together. You’ll then have to decide if you edit each clip separately or edit everything at once after splicing.

Unfortunately, we can’t tell you exactly how to edit your videos. That part is up to you. We’re just here to give you the tools you need to better yourself as a mobile filmmaker and photographer. If you’re a beginner, though, consider Vita’s Video Templates as it’s a plug and play sort of deal. You add your own clips to Vita’s template and presto, passable and engaging video.

Just remember, the more time you spend editing your videos, the easier it becomes. At first, you might get frustrated trying to adjust your videos to get them just right. However, with time you’ll understand your editing tools better and have a better idea of your own unique style.

Finding that style is a process that happens with practice. Your style from two years ago is unlikely to resemble your style this year or the next. As you learn and grow as a filmmaker, your work will change accordingly.

Are You Ready to Edit Videos On A Smartphone?

Are You Ready to Edit Videos On Your Smartphone?
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So, we’ve settled on a mobile video editing app or two and we know what it takes to shoot passable video on our smartphones. Additionally, we’ve discussed how in-depth we can go into an edit in addition to why or why not we may do so. In short, yes, you’re ready to edit videos on a phone.

Your growth as a video editor will come from practice though, so don’t get discouraged during the beginning as it was hard for everyone. I remember my first edit – it sucked, literally everything about it was trash. By number 40, though, I started to get my video editing sea legs. Now, I’m trying to sell my services to local businesses because my skills are worth something that they wouldn’t have been worth had I given up. Stay the course – keep editing. Tag us in any mobile edits that you upload to Instagram using #photoswithphones – we’d love to see what you created.

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