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First Look: video editing on your iPhone with Nexvio ReelDirector

With the introduction of the iPhone 3GS back in June of this year, iPhone lovers finally got what a lot of other smartphones already had -- video recording capabilities. A little over a week later, I wrote a post titled "How to make iPhone videos sparkle with iMovie." At the time I remember thinking, "Wouldn't it be great if I could do editing on the iPhone instead of having to do it on my Mac?"

Somebody at Nexvio was obviously thinking the same thing, and the company has introduced ReelDirector [US$7.99, iTunes Link], a video editing app for iPhone. One reviewer noted that "it's not Final Cut Pro," but make no mistake -- ReelDirector is a powerful, easy-to-use, and fun iPhone app for creating videos with titles and effects. It's perfect for putting together on-the-spot vacation videos to send to friends and relatives, making quick video podcasts, and teaching kids (or yourself) the basics of video editing.
As stated on the Quick Start page, "ReelDirector is a video editing app that allows you to put together video clips with transitions, and add text watermarks at the opening and closing of your movie." That pretty much sums up the capabilities of the app right now, but there's more to ReelDirector than just that.

Let's say I'm on a vacation and have captured a bunch of 10 - 15 second video clips with my iPhone. To create a video that I can send back to the TUAW troops to make them jealous, all I need to do is launch ReelDirector. The first screen displayed is the Projects screen, which shows other movie projects (if any) I've created. To make a new movie, I tap on the New button and I'm taken to a properties screen. Here I can choose whether or not to have opening and closing "titles," what I'd like those titles to say, and where I want them located on the screen.

I can also choose what kind of standard transition I want between clips if I want to apply the same one to every transition, and whether or not to use "high quality mode." This mode retains the full VGA video resolution of the iPhone 3GS (640 x 480), while turning off high quality mode scales down videos to 480 x 360 to speed up processing. At high quality, a 49 second sample movie took 1 minute 56 seconds to render, while the same clips rendered at the lower resolution took only 49 seconds. The resolution difference isn't noticeable if you're playing the movies on the iPhone, but I'd probably want to stay at high resolution for movies I'm going to export or send to friends.

Next, I add clips to the project by tapping on an Add button. For each clip I add, I have the opportunity to trim the video with the now-familiar trim sliders. After adding all of my trimmed clips, I can customize the leading and trailing transitions or change the clip order. When I'm done, I can update the properties again or tap the Create button.

Create renders the movie with the "watermarks" (I'd just call them titles) and transitions, and then makes it available to play, share via email, or save into your iPhone photo library. Sharing didn't work well for me due to the file sizes during my testing; even trying to mail a 49 second (19.6 MB) movie didn't work, with a message stating "Video Too Long to Send" providing the bad news.

Syncing the iPhone let me bring the video over to my Mac, and this wonderful demonstration of the video making art can be seen below. Be kind -- I'm stuck inside during a major snowstorm, so my choices of things to record were rather limited.


Although Nexvio is already working on adding features that have been requested by users, the built-in FAQ notes that loading music from your library and mixing it to the video track is "not possible," and that whole length video effects and adjustment are not practical. I do look forward to seeing what other great things come from future versions of ReelDirector, as well as sending my vacation movies to the TUAW team. Check out the gallery below for some screen shots of the user interface.

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