Online video editors and a quick survey of Web 2.0 video sites

Earlier in the month, we launched The American Image: The Photographs of John Collier Jr., one of the activities included was the Propaganda Filmmaker. This custom version of our own experimental online Flash video editor, allows visitors to make their own short, 40 second films, which can then be embedded or emailed. Some work on the server-side keeps track of the latest videos and the top rated ones. It is an interesting activity in that the visitor is given creative control and can immerse themselves in the content. (You can learn more about the project our design portfolio.)

We’re currently working on a new and more elaborate version of the video editor. The new editor will include; four minute editing time, a pan and zoom timeline, draggable clips on the timeline, and a pop-over video “inspector.” But the biggest new feature will be two-track editing. An overlay track will allow visitors to edit still images and video over other video clips. This process has reminded me of the early days of desktop video editing. Adobe Premier 1.0 (1991) used “A & B” track editing in much the same way. Nowadays nearly all desktop video editors use single track editing, something that would be extremely difficult to build in Flash.

In designing the first and now the second video editor we’ve spent quite a bit of time looking at desktop and online video editors. Below is a listing of online video editors and some Web 2.0 video sites that we came across.

In the online world, JumpCut is perhaps the best known of all online video editors. Purchased last Fall by Yahoo! this was seen as a move to help them compete with Google which acquired YouTube last summer. JumpCut uses a standard player interface with a “clip sorter” below. It allows “trim” (changing the durration of clips) and supports wide screen video. Additional features include: transitions, titles, effects and styles. Jumpcut’s most important development since the acquisition is the ability to import content from flickr and facebook.

Eyespot allows you to arrange video clips sequentially has a “trimmer” to cut clips. You can upload your own video or grab clips from their promotional partners–mostly music videos and movie clips. Eyespot isn’t really a video editor, it is a “mixer” as they correctly call it. What’s interesting here is that while the clips are Flash video, the thumbnails and timeline interface utilizes Ajax.

Movie Masher is a Flash-based video editor, loaded with features including: trim, multiple transitions, timeshifting, color adjustments, and compositing. I found it harder to get started with Movie Masher than the others, but there are some very impressive features here. This was created by one developer who has estimated he’s put in 8,750 hours of time in creating this online application. The site is also for sale you can read about this on the site.

The other video editors we found work more like our own with a content focus and more traditional timeline-based editing. Bravo TV’s Project Runway has an excellent flash video editor, they call it a video mashup. (Not to be confused with mashups that use public APIs, Application Programming Interfaces.) The Simpsons TV series had a video editing contest which has since closed. You can view the winning entries, the editor was Flash-based.

We’ll likely see many more of these online video editors, mixers and mashups as online video sites themselves continue to multiply. In searching for online editors we came across a ton of video social networking sites: Brightcove, Motionbox, FireAnt, Metacafe, StashSpace, VideoEgg, Blinkx, Vimeo, Phanfare, Dailymotion, Ourmedia, vSocial, Beedeo, Dovetail, among others. How many of these will develop editing (or still be in existence?) in the next year or two. We’ll have to see.

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