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Mobile App Review: Video Editing For Instagram, Part 1
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Mobile App Review: Video Editing For Instagram, Part 1 - Executive Leadership Articles

Mobile App Review: Video Editing For Instagram, Part 1

Executive Leadership Articles

Mobile App Review: Video Editing For Instagram, Part 1

“Visual Twitter”

Once upon a time, we were pretty old-school vigilant about keeping Instagram’s use according to the purposes of its original public release. We shunned accounts featuring professionally shot photos on obvious DSLR gear, edited in Photoshop and then posted to IG. Instagram was supposed to be about smartphone photography, enhanced by cool filters and shared on the run. “Visual Twitter,” one early app developer called it, in the days when Twitter could remember being about “What are you doing now?”

Instagram was a stream of in-the-moment moments: what I’m seeing now, what I’m doing now, and what I’m thinking about now. We even loved that it was an iPhone-only app: too many apps had been Android-only, but here was something cool that was just ours.

Runaway Popularity

Each modification to the service irked us a little. First, video. Then non-square photos. Then multi-photo posts. Then non-chronological presentation of posts by accounts we follow. Each new function was a step away from immediacy and a step toward something perhaps more ambitious. IG’s enormous popularity turned it into a social media platform, no longer a social photography platform, but an entity pretty much all alone in its own social media space.

Which of course meant that it became a marketing platform. If you had something to sell and you didn’t have a meaningful Instagram presence, you were missing out on the thirty-and-under demographic. All these grumpy oldtimer biases had to go; there was no doubt. This meant taking advantage of every one of IG’s feature and finding some way to stand out.

Standing Out While Fitting In

We still believe in a certain authenticity of immediacy, even if the immediacy needs to be premeditated and strategized. Toward this end, we looked for the best iOS apps for editing video and still photography shot in an iPhone, for presentation specifically on Instagram’s two major video functions: Instagram Stories and the regular Instagram stream.

It turns out there may not be a one-size-fits-all solution we sought. Videos on Instagram Stories are limited to 15 seconds in length, as compared to the regular Instagram video limit of 60 seconds. In fact, at least one app we looked at itself creates videos no longer than 15 seconds, declaring itself pretty specifically a tool for IG Stories. Notable and more obscure apps are many, and we wanted to examine as many as we could, since the more popular apps tend to create a kind of recognizable sameness, defeating the purpose of sharing creative, quality video that stands out.

We’ll look at IG Stories apps in a future article. This one and another in the near future will focus on video-editing apps for regular IG posts from the iPhone.

Record It!

We started with screen recording apps with built-in editing, but soon found most of these apps to be lacking in vital features. Record It! was good for what it became: a baseline for comparison. It does some neat recording tricks, like commentary-recording over screen video, so you can narrate or explain what’s happening on-screen. It has multiple canvas sizes, including 1:1 (square) formatting, which is a must for Instagram posts. A few decent filters, image rotation, and speed adjustment up to 8x are pluses. But if you want to add a title card or stitch video together, you’re out of luck with this app, so we can’t recommend it.


The revered grandfather of accessible video editing survives, and its mobile version has some hefty functionality. As our own introduction to desktop video, iMovie will always hold a special place in our hearts, and we will never, ever take it off our phones no matter what. Still, for the specific task of editing for Instagram, iTunes lacks the one absolute must: editing in square format. Determined to make it work, we edited in 16:9 (aspect ratio) size in such a way that when video was shared on Instagram, nothing important was cut out, but while this is a workaround, it is no solution. We’re looking for quick recording and editing without worrying about canvas size. Pluses are familiarity and ease of use, project mode (so specifics can be changed for future videos), and adding still images. Huge minus: only 2x speed adjustment at most.

Square Video Editor

So frustrated were we with iMovie’s inability to edit in square formatting, we did a search specifically for square video editing and found this, a simple but fairly tricked-out editor with iTunes integration (as with iMovie), audio voice-over recording, 4x speed adjustment, and reverse video. $1.99 removes a watermark and another $1.99 removes ads. $2.99 gets you the pro version, and we didn’t bother to look up what that meant once we knew that adding still images wasn’t one of the purchasable features. However, this might make a nice gift for the youngster in your life stretching out into in-phone video sharing.

Screen Recorder +

While we were still enamored with the thought of screen recording and editing within the same app (a determination we abandoned), we enjoyed Screen Recorder + the most. It has 1:1 formatting and a fit-to-screen button we like, easy iTunes integration, project mode, and 4x speed editing. The learning curve is rather steep, though, so be patient with yourself and don’t give up on the app until you’ve completed at least three videos worth posting. We found the clip trimmer maddening, sometimes unable to trim with more than 3-second precision. Was it our clumsy fingers or a fault in the app? Some clips trimmed easily just the way we wanted, but other sent us to other apps for trimming first, then importing the trimmed clips back to this app for completion. Unsatisfactory. We were almost willing to look the other way on the app not permitting still image importing, and of our early explorations, we spent more of our time trying to work things out with Screen Recorder + than any other app before we finally decided we needed a better solution. If you don’t need still images or reliably precise trimming, this app is definitely worth a look.

In part 2 of this series, we’ll continue to explore video editing iPhone apps.


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Mobile App Review: Video Editing For Instagram, Part 1 - Executive Leadership Articles

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