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WeVideo - Professional, Collaborative, Online Video Editor for Free

WeVideo is a professional online, cloud, video editing and project sharing application that works right in your browser. It attempts to compete with equivalent licensed software that you can buy for your computer, such as (in my case) MAGIX Movie Edit Pro.

WeVideo is free for personal use and comes with a range of paid plans that give you more features and benefits depending on your needs and how much you want to spend. Check out their video below which gives a great overview of WeVideo's service.



In this review I'm going to see if I can use WeVideo to create a typical video for my main YouTube channel, etourist2, where I mostly upload art and animation demonstration/tutorial videos. Before we start, here's a run down of what a free account offers:

  • 1 GB storage
  • 360p resolution
  • 15 export minutes per month
  • Export to Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and Twitter
  • 5 invites per project
  • 390 licensed music titles

With only 1GB of storage this account is clearly targeted at short form video and the casual user. To create one of my typical art videos, where I can be filming many minutes of HD video at a time, of me painting in real time over the course of a single painting I'd fill up 1GB easily and still need more room. However with a WeVideo Plus account I'd get 10GB's of storage which would probably be enough for one of my video projects.

360p resolution is fine for YouTube and other online video sites. All of WeVideo's paid accounts offer local downloads and higher resolutions if you're all about image quality and like to own hires versions of your movies.

15 export minutes per month may not seem like much but if you keep your videos to about 3 minutes each (which is an optimal length for online video and the average attention span for many viewers) that's about 5 videos per month.

5 invites per project? What's that all about? If you're the kind of person that likes to work collaboratively on video projects then you can invite other WeVideo users to work on your project. I'd imagine this is great for people wishing to work collaboratively but suffer from the tyranny of distance (or just like working from home). Not that useful for me though.

390 licensed music titles - whilst you won't find any top 40 hits or even classic tunes that you're parents used to play, the range of mostly instrumental music is very usable as an audio backdrop to your video or as a backing track playing behind the voice track to set the mood of a scene. There's plenty of different styles and enough selection to stop your audio from sounding too repetitive across several productions.

So can WeVideo replace my video editor, MAGIX Movie Edit Pro? 

As I've been writing this review to this point I've been uploading my raw video footage into WeVideo's studio - 11 video files with a total size of approximately 495MB. About an hour has passed and my files are only about half way uploaded. As far as hurdles go this is one that puts me off most online software services in general. The need to store all the working files on a server 'in the cloud'.

As a collaborative tool, storing all the files online is necessary but I'm working solo on this... using MAGIX I'd be an hour into editing my file by now. It's not a big problem though. All it takes is planning. Upload your files when you have other things to do - perhaps the day before or overnight even. Me? I think it's time for a lunch break!

I should note that WeVideo seems to import most popular video, image and audio file formats. Though I didn't test this thoroughly. My project media files consisted of MP4 and WMV video files and one PNG image.

It would be much too lengthy an article to give you a blow by blow run down of editing my video so rather than do that I'll highlight features that I used and note any that I either couldn't find or weren't available.

The interface is laid out very much as you'd expect. If you've used any kind of video editor you'll probably be able to find your way around without too much drama (see the screen shot below). Your Private files, Projects Files, Videos, Audio, Transitions and Graphics are all filed under tabs in the top left half of the studio. A video preview window on the top right (note the Tools menu to the right of the preview window in the image - I'll talk about this later). The editing timeline takes up the whole bottom half of the screen. First time users also get some speech balloon help to guide you around which was quite useful but can be skipped.

WeVideo Edit Studio
Click for enlarged version.
The first thing that impressed me was the speed at which the preview window seemed to preview everything. From the source files up to the video being created on the timeline. For an online application I was expecting to see a lot of lag time waiting for files to stream but I didn't seem to spend much time waiting at all. Certainly no more than I do with MAGIX Video Edit Pro waiting for it to compile a lowres preview of my timeline.

That said, when returning to my project the next day it does take a little longer for files to stream and preview the first run through but I'm guessing once that happens with each clip they're stored locally for faster playback until you exit the studio.

Editing in the timeline is a combination of drag-n-drop and adjusting settings in various dialogue boxes. On the timeline its self you start with 1 Effects track, 1 Graphics track, 1 Video Track and 3 Audio tracks. You can add more Graphics and Audio Tracks if you need them. Unfortunately none of those audio tracks are the audio of your source videos which is combined on the video track but not shown - so if you want to splice a piece of video based on an audio event you won't have the video's audio wave form as a visual guide. You just have to literally play it by ear.

Creating my opening titles was a snap (almost) with text being added from the Graphics tab and edited right in the preview window. Initially I thought you couldn't adjust the font and text size of individual lines of text in a text box but discovered if you just highlight the text within your text box, click the FX button on the menu bar of the timeline, and the properties box that comes up will adjust only the text highlighted. There are a number of preset titles for various common tasks (such as subtitles, end credits etc.) to save you some time. The only negative here is the limited number of fonts (15 in total) but there should be a style to suit almost any project.

I also liked that all of the key objects placed in the timeline have, what I'm calling a 'transition' line (see image below), which allow you to either adjust the opacity of an object or the volume of a video or audio object at any stage, within the object, just by adding points to the line and dragging them. You can add additional points by clicking on the line. You can remove points by double clicking on them.

Transition lines for adjusting opacity or audio volume.
The length of most objects can be adjusted simply by dragging its left or right edge backwards and forwards. Video can be spliced either by using the video in and out markers on the preview window or by chopping it up directly in the timeline with the splitting tool (which can also be used to split audio,and other objects too).

When it comes to transitions WeVideo has quite a selection worthy of any commercial package from wipes to 3D screen switches and artsy ones like 'Filmstrip' too. These are easily dragged onto the Video/Image track in the timeline and can also be adjusted for length by dragging their right edge.  You can also click on the little 'T' button in the transition which will bring up a window to let you swap the existing transition for a different one if you don't like your initial selection.

Clicking the FX button on the timeline with a video object selected brings up a dialogue box that allows you to apply a number of creative effects to a video such as sepia tone, black and white, reflection and more - too many to list. The only effects that I've used in other software that I couldn't find in WeVideo is Chroma keying (green screening). Not that I use it often but it's an effect many home video creators like to experiment with.

The same dialogue box also gives you some options for colour correcting your video with the usual sliders for brightness, contrast, saturation and more. I found this to be very useful because I'm notorious for not taking the time to light my scenes properly. Yes I'm a point and shoot kind of cameraman (lighting... what's that?!)

My project didn't really require much other than titles from the selection of Graphics available but if you were going for a more fun project things like cartoon 'Boom' graphics, frames, speech balloons and animated mouths could be very useful.

If you need to add narration to your video WeVideo allows you to record this directly from your microphone into the timeline. For some reason you're limited to 30 second grabs which is extremely annoying for someone like me who often edits my whole video then records the entire narration directly into my editor in one file. I could certainly see myself using external audio software to record narration and then just import the file into my WeVideo media library.

I've already mentioned the licensed music tracks which are easy enough to select and drag into the timeline. What I haven't told you about is that WeVideo also includes a selection of ambient noises and sound effects which could prove useful if you need things like audience applause or ambient traffic noise.

WeVideo has some more advanced features which I noticed in some of their demonstration videos but had to really search around in the studio to discover how to use them. Effects such as Video Wall and Picture in Picture. If you drag a video or image onto a Graphic track above your video track then some advanced tools become available to you, accessed by a little arrow button on the top left of the preview window. These tools allow you to size and move your overlay videos and images. There's even a control to give them a border and drop shadow.

Once you've completed your project, with a free account, you have the option of exporting it to either  Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo or Twitter. If you're not thrilled with 360p resolution (with watermark) then for a small fee you can upgrade the export to 480p.

Unsurprisingly exports to external sites take a little time depending on the size and length of your video but WeVideo does send you an email alert to let you know when your project has exported.

My finished video, created entirely in WeVideo, demonstrating my animated monkey character is below. I'll be the first to admit my editing skills are probably not that sharp but I blame the cameraman! Essentially I was to trying to make use of as much of WeVideo's features as I could for this review whilst still maintaining that classic amateur look of all my videos.


If detailed editing isn't your thing then WeVideo's studio does include a video wizard - great if you really want to put together a slide show or series of videos in a hurry. However if that's the kind of thing you do often then Magisto just might be the better service for you. WeVideo is really for people who like full control of their video editing experience.

One thing I couldn't do with WeVideo is separate the audio from my source video. I often use narration I've recorded with my source camera footage and add it over other footage or images. As well MAGIX Video Edit Pro has tools to let me clean my camera recorded audio to minimize unwanted noise and boost my audio's volume. None of that is currently possible with WeVideo.

There's also no option to speed up footage - useful for showing passage of time sequences such as the creation of an artwork in record time (sometimes referred to as 'speed painting'). Though I read on WeVideo's Facebook support page that this is planned for a future update.

Beyond the editing studio the rest of WeVideo's web site gives you a dashboard where you can manage your projects, media and collaborative team.

Overall I really enjoyed using WeVideo. It was easy to use and easy enough to learn just by experimenting inside the studio. A complete newbie to video editing might find it a steep learning curve but anyone who's fairly competent with something like Windows Moviemaker in timeline mode or more professional video editing software should be able to get to grips with WeVideo in less than a few hours.

I wouldn't say it could replace a dedicated video editing package like MAGIX Movie Edit Pro entirely at this stage but it certainly could be used for a considerable number of projects with very professional and impressive results.

I'd definitely recommend it as a video editing tool that almost anyone should be able to learn. It's sizable array of transitions, effects and audio mean it'll take you a while to out grow it creatively - if at all.

With the addition of Chroma keying, Timelapse (speeding up footage) and the ability to see and separate audio from your source video I'd almost say it's the only video editor you may need. No doubt these things may all be added in future updates if the demand is there.

If collaboration is your thing then I haven't seen any other editor that brings people together to work on the same video project like WeVideo does.

The free account is probably not for you if you make videos every day but, for a casual user who makes perhaps one 3-4 minute video every week, it could be just enough to get by.

For more hardcore video creators a paid plan is something you'll have to weigh up against purchasing a dedicated video editing software package. A monthly plan could well be good value considering you'll always be using the latest version of your editor and will never have to upgrade to a newer version... and don't forget WeVideo's collaboration options.

WeVideo, in my opinion, is a very competent tool. It won't be the only video editing tool I'll ever use but I'll certainly be keeping my eye on it and will consider it for future projects. It's definitely something I'd recommend for amateur video creators of all skill levels.

Professionals may find it a little limiting for exceptionally creative work or extremely large projects but as a tool for editing online video projects it should meet much of their needs. Definitely worth serious consideration.

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