Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Web Video Editing Goes Mainstream: YouTube Remixer Is Here

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Web video editing is nothing new and there are already a host of services that will allow you to remix your videos right from your browser. But now the most popular video sharing website in the world is joining the fray. How does it fare?


Services such as JumpCut and EyeSpot have led the way in giving their respective communities the opportunity to mix and match, cut up, add effects to and otherwise edit recorded video on the web. Their strengths lie in a mixture of relatively easy to use tools, and the ability to easily share and remix content from within the JumpCut and EyeSpot communities.

But the new addition of remixing capabilities to the biggest video sharing site on the web marks the next phase - the mainstreaming of web video editing.

As such, the all new YouTube Remixer has been kept deliberately simple in its form and function. If JumpCut, EyeSpot and their imitators have the luxury of targeting niche audiences with a particular focus on editing and mashing up their video content, YouTube has the weight of popularity on its shoulders.

What you get, then, in this new addition to the ongoing YouTube overhaul, is a straightforward, easy to master online editing tool perfect for:

  • Trimming videos down to size and splitting them into separate clips
  • Adding titles and captions over your video content
  • Using clip-art graphics and borders to complement or frame your videos
  • Bringing in some basic transitions and effects
  • Adding a musical soundtrack to your video

While this is a feature set that is unlikely to appeal to die-hard video editors, it does offer a basic, bare bones way to quickly edit your YouTube videos together, whether uploaded from your mobile, the web, or even your webcam.

Overview - YouTube Remixer


YouTube Remixer is the latest addition to the growing set of features being added to the evolving YouTube experience, and has been anticipated for some time.

The results, somewhat surprisingly, have been delivered by Adobe, using their Premiere Express service, as found previously on Photobucket and more recently the MTV website.

YouTube Remixer is, basically, the exact same editing software you will use on either of these other destinations, but for a slight variation in content, effects and their overall look, which it must be said is decidedly different to the clean, bright YouTube colouring we have come to expect so far.

In short YouTube Remixer gives you a simple way to quickly edit together and caption your existing YouTube content into new short movies which can then be republished to the service.

Bringing In Content


Unlike the previously mentioned JumpCut and EyeSpot services, which allow you to remix other community members' videos, or upload your own directly from your computer, YouTube Remixer works with the videos that you have already uploaded to YouTube, and they are made instantly available to you when you enter the editing application.

While it would have been nice to be able to mash-up and edit other YouTube content into fresh remixes, this doesn't seem like the primary goal of the service, which is more squarely aimed at giving you the chance to quickly edit your own videos and republish them in their new, improved form. This seems like somewhat of a missed opportunity, but may very well have been driven by the need to keep things simple and not overwhelm newcomers to the video editing experience.

As such you begin with a bin full of content automatically linked from your personal YouTube collection, which means that you are ready to go from the very beginning.

Curiously, I found no way of importing the photos and music that are given as options in the help tutorials, and as I have not seen this upload feature added to the standard YouTube feature-set can only assume that this is in the works.

Editing Capabilities


Videos are dragged and dropped from your content bin and over onto a timeline, as is standard with all video editing applications, whether online or on your desktop. You simply decide the order you would like your clips to be played in, and sequence them accordingly, dragging the clips to the empty silos on the timeline. This couldn't be easier.

Furthermore, with easy-to-use controls you can also trim your clips by moving sliders in from the left and right to change the point at which your clips begin and end, allowing you to trim off unwanted footage. Once again, this is a fairly standard feature, but can prove useful for those awkward pauses at the end of a video, or endless captions or credits that you would prefer to trim back.


Using these same controls, you can also split your clip into two separate videos by choosing the point of the video that you want to make the cut, and clicking on the scissors icon. This automatically divides the clip and places a new, second video directly after the first. Again, this can be very useful if you are looking to dice up your video and cut between two different videos to create a montage effect.

And that is all it takes to start splicing and dicing your videos. This is very straightforward and (perhaps with the guidance of the excellent tutorials) I am confident that anyone, of whatever level of experience, will be editing their movies in no time.

Adding Text, Graphics and Captions


It's also easy to bring in titles and captions, which you can easily overlay onto either a black background, or directly over your video footage. This is a matter of simply dragging the text style of your choosing onto the video itself, choosing a font and then resizing and positioning your text on-screen with a simple bounding box. As a simple way of adding titles to your videos, it doesn't get much easier than this.

You also have a range of graphics that you can bring into your videos, and while I personally found many of these to be on the corny side - does anyone really want to add a baby bottle or gingerbread man to their video? - there may be users that enjoy enhancing their videos with these graphic elements.

Slightly better looking, but still of novelty value only, are the range of framed borders that you can add to your video, giving you options such as a TV set or stamp effect that act as a graphical frame to your video content. There are those that will find this kind of thing fun, but it is far from the killer feature of Remixer.


The choice of graphics available in both the borders and graphics section is disappointingly small, especially given the huge range of choices available in such services as the recently reviewed Flektor. Hopefully these will be added to as Remixer comes out of beta release.

Transitions and Music


More useful, if equally limited in number, are the transition effects that you can add between your clips.

With the same simplicity as you drag your video clips onto the timeline, with transitions you simply choose from the current offering of four options (three fades and a wipe), and drag the appropriate selection between video clips. This then applies your fade or wipe to the final video remix, making your cuts a little smoother.

While it would be nice to have something other than fades to work with, these are the quintessential transitions, and tend to look best. Gimmicky star-shaped twirling transitions can look somewhat tacky, so I personally didn't miss their presence. That said, there will be younger members of the YouTube community that would like to see a full range of options in this department, and I hope that over time more will be added to this rather limited release line-up.


While Remixer promises the ability to bring audio from your music collection into a 'drag here' box, which is reported to replace your current soundtrack with said musical track, I found no way of actually importing music into Remixer, which is somewhat strange. Given that there is no stock music included in the application there currently seems to be no way that I can see of getting music clips into the program, and I would love to be proven wrong on this front.

What's Missing


The absence of any way to bring in music is not the only missing element in YouTube Remixer. The included tutorials and press information about this new service also make mention of being able to bring in your photos and arrange them within your videos, and this is certainly a feature present in the Photobucket version of the application.

I can only assume that this is another feature in the works. It must be stressed that YouTube Remixer is still in the very early stages of beta, but given that YouTube has had years to catch up with its competitors, and that Photobucket have had the same application up and running for several months now, these omissions seem a little amateurish, and I would have expected a little more from the premiere video sharing destination on the web.

I hope that in the coming weeks YouTube manage to clear up these problems, along with the somewhat scant collection of stock media currently available to users. As it is, Remixer is a great basic tool for editing and will be welcomed for this alone, but is somewhat lacking punch in the remixing and content-enhancement departments.

Finally, I was a bit miffed to notice that there is no way to save your video mid-edit. Essentially you have to create your remix in a single sitting and then publish it before it is saved. This seems like a major feature that needs to be rectified, as it not only leaves users open to browser crashes which means that they have to begin from scratch, but also limits the opportunities available for more well-considered editing sessions taking place over a number of days.


If you are looking for a simple, no-frills video editing experience integrated into the most popular video sharing site in the world, you won't be disappointed with YouTube Remixer. Here is an easy to use tool - with excellent step-by-step help tutorials - that makes trimming, splitting, editing and adding captions and transitions to your YouTube videos a piece of cake.

If you expect to find a rich set of effects or editing capabilities, you might be better off taking a look at either of the excellent JumpCut and EyeSpotJumpCut or EyeSpot services, or indeed at one of their several imitators, as you are unlikely to find what you are looking for here.

This is a simple way to get the clips you uploaded via the web, your mobile, or your webcam and quickly splice them together into a sequence, adding basic captions and graphic effects. The fact that it is well integrated into your YouTube account makes this as easy as it could possibly be, without even the need to upload content from the editor.

The application is early in its life-cycle, at least insofar as it has been used within the YouTube infrastructure, and as such there are some rough edges that still need to be addressed, not to mention some omissions that seem glaring given the true range of options now available to the would-be online video editor.

Effects, graphics and transitions could certainly use some work, and I ran into difficulties accessing my complete YouTube collection after the first twenty videos, which leads to questions of scalability for the more prolific YouTubers.

Overall, however, flaws aside, this is a great way to get your feet wet in the world of video editing online, and may very well prove to be a pleasant introduction to the experience for those whose needs don't extend to the more complex offerings of alternative services. For these users, whose content is primarily YouTube-based, YouTube Remixer may well prove to be just what they are looking for.

Additional Resources

If you would like to read more about YouTube Remixer, you might want to check out the following links:

Originally written by Michael Pick for Master New Media and originally published as: "Web Video Editing Goes Mainstream: YouTube Remixer Is Here

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posted by Michael Pick on Tuesday, June 19 2007, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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