Talking tech since 2003

Let me introduce you to an awesome new video editing app called Magisto.  And before you stop reading, let me just say Magisto isn’t “just another video editing app” either.  Not at all.  Magisto takes the manual labor out of video editing — that’s right, give those fingers of yours a break.  Instead of you having to select the best parts of the video clips to use, selecting the transitions and effects, and inserting an audio overlay — Magisto takes care of all that for you.

Magisto allows you to add music to your video easily.
Magisto allows you to add music to your video easily.

The app uses algorithms to analyze the clips you upload to it, then picks the best parts of each video clip, stitches everything together really nicely with transitions and effects, and even allows you to insert an audio overlay of your choosing (they have a number of tracks to choose from or you can upload your own music).  And it does a very good job.  At least, I was impressed.

The way the algorithm works is that it creates a semantic map of what is happening in the videos, and in that map it can identify a primary, secondary, and tertiary characters and objects using pattern and facial recognition.  Those pieces of information, plus geo-location data and time codes are all analyzed and used to determine how to stitch together the video clips into a great movie.

In my tests, I found the transitions and effects to be fairly well utilized by the app. Magisto offers several pre-created themes/editing styles that can be applied to your video, such as a party style, a hiphop style, a love style, a holiday style, etc.  They even released one for Mother’s Day the other day, and will be continuing to release new ones over time to give users even more choice.  I was told by Reid Genauer, Chief Marketing Officer for Magisto, that the company has plans to release hundreds of themes over time.  In order to help scale that effort, the company is looking into introducing some kind of tool or API for people to create and share their own themes.

The app lets you shoot video directly from within Magisto or you can import already recorded videos from your camera roll.  Additionally, Magisto also offers its functionality on the web, meaning you can use the Magisto website the same way you would use the app on your smartphone (iOS or Android).  With your Magisto account, simply login to the website, upload videos from your computer or on Google Drive, and follow the same process to create a video as you would on a smartphone.

The main/home screen of Magisto.

One of the really nice things about Magisto is that the app can analyze and produce a high quality, professional looking video rather quickly.  While the time it can take to create a video depends largely on how much raw footage you upload, in my tests, when I uploaded around five minutes of raw footage, the final product was available for viewing within 10 to 15 minutes.

Magisto is a freemium service, so the free version does have its limitations.  With a premium account you can upload more/longer source footage, you can create longer movies (up to two and a half minutes, while the free version only allows you to create movies up to 1:15), and you get unlimited SD downloads of the movies you create.

While you can currently only download videos in standard definition, the company does have plans to offer HD video downloads in the future.  Additionally, Mr. Genauer noted that while they could offer the ability to create longer videos, the company analyzed a lot of user feedback to come up with the two and half minute clip time limit, which they feel is currently the sweet spot in terms of people’s attention spans.  However, depending upon future usage, longer length videos are not out of the question.

The app currently has over 8 million downloads since January 2012, with the bulk of the discovery is coming from word of mouth and from people sharing the videos on social platforms.  And people are using Magisto in all kinds of ways that the company didn’t necessarily anticipate, “If you Google Magisto and a company name, you are likely to find all kinds of interesting videos,” said Mr. Genauer.  He provided me with a few examples as well, the ASPCA has used Magisto to show off the personality of animals in an effort to get more adoptions.  Realtors are using the app to bring out the emotion of homes they are looking to sell.  And of course, there are people using Magisto to animate their Barbie collection (who would have thought?).

“Magisto wants to enable people to be able to put together a narrative with one-click or tap of the finger,” said Mr. Genauer.  Well, they are certainly doing a good job of that so far.

You can check out a video I made–Magisto made for me, here.

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