Even before the iPad was introduced people were speculating over the endless possibilities a powerful, functional tablet could provide. Since then people have found ways to take their businesses on the go with iPads, using them for everything from mobile cash registers to portable photo studios.
However, is video editing a field that can be successfully converted to a mobile model? I must admit, as someone who went to school for broadcasting and worked for a couple television stations, I came into this review skeptical that Avid Studio would be very useful. After all, taking a video editing suite on the road is much more difficult than most professions. Often it requires a computer with advanced hardware, external hard drives to store large video files, and at least two large display monitors.
Video editing has been done that way for years and there’s a reason why it is the preferred method. So, can a well-known name in the business like Avid provide an app that begins to change the game?
Starting a Project
I should start by pointing out that Avid makes clear this app is optimized to be used on the iPad 2, so although you can use it on iPad 1 there will be restrictions and you shouldn’t expect to get the same performance as someone running it on the iPad 2. The app consists of two main pages that you move between – the projects page and the editing page.
The project page lists all projects that have been created in a film strip style. Once you choose a project to work on you are taken to the editing page, which looks similar to the layout of most popular video editing software. The top is divided into your bin (library) that contains all your media and a preview window.
The middle contains a storyboard and the bottom is the timeline containing your video and audio tracks. The storyboard is a zoomed out view of everything on your timeline, so you can easily navigate between every element.
The app will automatically import all media already stored on your iPad. I was surprised at how fast this process was importing my 86 photos, 3 videos, and over 350 songs in less than 30 seconds, although I’m sure it would have taken longer if I had more videos in my library. You can also tap the record button to the left of the bin to record video directly from the app using the iPad’s camera. I liked how the bin was automatically organized separating media out by events, albums, artists, etc. What I found annoying was being asked every time I reopened the app if I wanted to rebuild the library, even if I had left for only a minute to access another app.
What Are You Working With?
I was really impressed by all the content that was included for only $4.99. The app comes with over 200 sound effects, 15 montage styles, and 17 title styles with a great mix of typical and lesser known font choices. The more I explored, the more options I found, but you may need to dig a little.
There are a number of buttons that open up option panes, but you can also find extra options by double tapping media or the different sections on the edit page.
For all that was included there were a couple major things lacking. There are no video effects (like color correction), no options for audio sweetening, and there are only two transitions to choose from – crossfade and fade in/out. While many editors only need these two transition choices, for the majority, being without color correction and audio sweetening is like a cake without the frosting. I would like to see Avid add in-app purchases as they improve the app so that those who need them can buy extra features such as video effects, audio editors, and transitions.
You’re provided with a number of options for sharing through email, Facebook, youtube, or exporting as a video file in 480p, 540p, or 720p. You can also save your project as an Avid Studio file to work with on your computer, but the software is currently only available for Windows.
Can You Really Edit on a Tablet?
I had seen my media import pretty fast, but I still wasn’t convinced that the iPad had enough computing power to substitute as a great video editing machine. Usually the best way to tell if it’s up to the task is by editing for awhile and then trying to render everything in one go. For the most part, I found that Avid rendered everything on my timeline pretty fast. However, when I tried something like putting a title over an entire 3 minute video clip it took a fair amount longer.
I noticed that in the iTunes store people are reporting significant crashing issues. In my experience the app only crashed once and it was when I started rendering, but my media library wasn’t very big so that could be contributing to the problems people are experiencing. Overall, I found the app to be much more responsive than I would have ever expected while working on projects of this magnitude on an iPad.
There’s no question in my mind that more experienced editors will prefer Avid Studio to iMovie. However, there’s still much more to be done before it can be said that the iPad can substitute for a full-blown editing suite. For instance, I couldn’t find a way to add multiple video tracks and although it supports importing via the iPad Camera Connection Kit, you’re still limited to the video formats supported by the iPad (H.264, MPEG-4, and M-JPEG all in 30 fps format).
While it can’t replace your regular editing machine, I do see it being useful for editing on the go provided that you shoot in one of the accepted formats. Imagine beginning your editing work in the car, on the plane, or on down times in between shoots. Avid Studio could save you a lot of time, and we all know that in the film industry time is money.
I would expect professionals to use this for rough editing and then finish their project on the computer. Whether you think this would be helpful or not, Avid Studio shows a lot of promise for video editing on iPad. With the release of the iPad 3 imminent and rumors pointing toward increased specs, taking your editing studio mobile may not be that far off.
What are your thoughts? Would Avid Studio fit your video editing needs?