Watch out, Steven Spielberg.
Every parent, pet owner and wannabe rockstar is going to be making their own mini-movies on smartphones thanks to an up-and-coming app that provides free editing of video clips.
Magisto turns video segments into a short, edited movie complete with music and special effects. The app is poised to change the landscape of video editing just as photo-enhancing apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic have given mundane photos of pancake stacks and knotty pine walls artistic flair.
“Virtually everyone these days is walking around with a smart phone and the implication is also walking around with an HD camera and is taking clips left and right," explained Reid Genauer, the Magisto chief marketing officer. “So there’s a massive quantity of video being creating that is difficult if not impossible to liberate."
That's where Magisto comes in. Upload video clips, select music, even opt for a special holiday theme. All together, the app takes about 15 minutes analyze video and create a mini-movie that can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or via email.
“The effect is—more or less—a personal, mobile movie comprised of your otherwise raw unused video," Genauer said.
The algorithm identifies interesting, visually-stimulating elements and weaves them together. For example, it can delinate the reptitive motion of swinging a child yo-yo around his head from the more-thrilling moment with the yo-yo is released.
Shaky, poorly-lit video of a pint-sized gymnast takes on a edgy feel when set to house music and cut into short, disjointed clips. Adorable but anti-climatic clips of bulldog puppies wearing Christmas outfits and playing with a baby become a smile-inducing video when holiday music plays and fake snow falls in the foreground.
For the holiday season, Magisto launched new templates to create mini-movie holiday greetings complete with music like Winter Wonderland or Adam Sandler's Chanukah song, as well as special themed effects.
“Christmas is an awesome convergance of gift giving, family communication and togetherness. It’s the perfect storm for our service and our app," said Genauer. “It’s like an animated holiday card."
Magisto was founded in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2009 by Dr. Oren Boiman and Dr. Alex Rav-Acha, both who have backgrounds in video analysis and computer vision.
Boiman came up with the idea for Magisto when he and his wife were overwhelmed with video footage of their first child, daughter Tamar. Boiman wanted to create a simpler way to share those events and memories with loved ones.
He "was trying to edit it into something was palatable for his friends and family to watch," Genauer said. "What he was faced with is what we’re all faced with—the reality that video editing and maybe more profoundly video storytelling is a complex art.”
The need existed in the marketplace as well. Magisto made its public debut in 2011; the company now employs more than 20 people at offices in Oakland and New York City.
Today Magisto has been downloaded millions of times and carries a 4.5 star rating in the iTunes app store, according to Genauer, who was hesistant to share hard data about the number of Magisto users.
The app is free to download and use. In the future, Magisto may add premium services that users can pay for, such as the ability to select the length of the video—the standard is about 45 seconds right now—or allow users some post-production editing control.
Wireless Week recently named Magisto one of "8 Helpful Holiday Apps," pointing out that the program takes the hard work but also the control out of video editing.
There are other free video editing apps out there that provide more autnomy over the final movie. The free version of Video Editor lets users trim and merge video clips. Videolicious 2 combines videos, music, photos and stories. Splice's free version allows users to create and edit videos.
Magisto is available on the web at Magisto.com, on Android devices, on iPhone and other iOS devices, and on YouTube Create.
“The honest truth is it’s just fun," Genauer said. "There’s a sense of anticipation. There’s a game-like quality to it.”