There’s been a five-year drought when it comes to included entry-level video editing in the last few versions of Windows. With Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, the drought is finally over—thanks to new capabilities in the updated Photos app.
Movie Maker formerly filled this role, but Microsoft last updated it in 2012 and stopped offering it entirely as of January 2017. Though many reviled it in its early versions, it was quite effective by the end, and at least the OS provided something for basic video editing. The lack of included video-editing software gave macOS, with its appealing iMovie, a leg up on Windows.
Of course, professionals and serious enthusiasts will want more, but the video capabilities in Windows 10’s Photos app will serve, and even delight, casual users who want to create something fun from their video clips. You can now join, trim, and rearrange clips; you can add background soundtrack music, and even apply some nifty effects and text titles.
Things you don’t get yet include voiceover recording, support for 360-degree video content, and much control over the export file. You do get impressive motion tracking and 3D overlay effects. Don’t forget, Windows is now a service, so every so often the app will be updated with new features.
Yes, Windows now has video-editing capabilities, but it still doesn’t have a standalone video-editing app, like Movie Maker or iMovie. Microsoft took a different tack by including the features in the Photos app. The video tools in Photos are strong enough to stand alone as an app, and maybe we’ll see a separate one someday, since users may not realize that, despite the name, it’s not just for Photos. For now, the company aims to reduce complexity by including all its multimedia editing in one app, however confusingly named.
Follow through the slides below to see what you can do with the new video-editing tools in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.
Before Fall Creators Update, the Photos app made it difficult to add images and video clips. Now, there’s a clear and standard Import button and process.
The easy way to start making your video is to hit Create, and then choose Video Remix. With this choice, you simply select the photos and videos, and Photos does the rest of the post production for you.
After you select the video and tap Add, Photos goes through some processing, and then plays your automatically generated video. Note the big Remix button, which changes the style (think Instagram filters), background music, and timing. You can keep hitting the Remix button as many times as you want till you like the result. You can then share or export the creation to a video file. But notice that you can also tap Edit Video, for more control. One quibble with the interface is that if you click away from the project, it disappears without notice.
This is where you get some hands-on fun with your video projects. It’s where you see expected tools like Trim, Filers, Text, Motion, and 3D Effects. You can also add or remove images and video clips from here, set each component’s duration, and change the music track from the button near top right.
The video editor inside the Photos app is not timeline based, but rather completely storyboard based, so you just see a thumbnail of each clip. With a clip selected, tap Trim, and you see an editing screen like this. (While we’re here, note the beautiful translucency of the apps Fluent Design). As is standard, you get handles for the in and out points on the clip. Also note that Remix automatically chooses in and out points. I like that you can set a duration and move that back and forth, in case your video has tight time requirements. As with nearly all video editors, you can stop and start play with the spacebar, and in this editing mode, only the trimmed-to part plays.
There’s a nice selection of effect filters you can add to either photos or video. One missing option is to apply a filter to the whole movie at once. It’s especially odd, considering the Remix tool does this.
You can add text to any clip in your movie, with six choices ranging from sedate to over the top, in your face. You can choose six positions/sizes, for main and secondary titling needs. It’s not WYSIWYG, since you enter text in a separate text box, but your words appear on screen in the chosen style as you type. The Boom title effect shown is very cool, as it uses your video with the text as a mask. Commercial enthusiast-level editors like Premiere Elements only recently added this striking capability.
These effects really only make sense for still photos in a slideshow, even though the app page says they work on photos and videos. (They didn’t work with my video clips.) They’re basically variations on the Ken Burns effect, panning and zooming photos to give them interest.
The video editor automatically fits canned background music to your video, even timing transitions to the beat. You can also use your own non-DRM tracks. You can also adjust the volume so it doesn’t overwhelm your video sound, though there’s no ducking or relative track volume control.
This feature doesn’t show up within the video editing interface, but is an option when you edit an individual clip. You get ballpoint, pencil, and calligraphy pen options. A very cool capability is that you can anchor your writing to follow an object in the video. I wish that worked with regular text, too.
A new set of 3D effect overlays let you jazz up your videos and slideshows. You can choose from things ranging from butterflies to blizzards to explosions. It’s infinitely easier than using After Effects. A really impressive plus is that you can Anchor any effect to have it follow any object in the video, and you can add multiple effects in the same video.
12Export or Share
Once your creation is done, you get a clearly explained choice among three options when exporting your video. After choosing one, you can see the created file in File Explorer or share it via email or any installed UWP app that accepts video. When you share to a social network, you don’t get a link but an actual uploaded video file. That saves viewers from having to navigate to a web page. Instead, they can just watch your video in, say, the Twitter app.
Here’s a bonus slide that isn’t specific to video, but it’s a feature worth highlighting in the new Fall Creators version of Photos. The previous version of Photos included no search capabilities at all (though if you synced your photos and videos to OneDrive, you got powerful search there). Now, an integrated search bar in the Photos app even uses AI to identify object types. It even has face recognition that groups photo of the same person, but you can’t add a name to these as you can in Apple and Google Photos. One neat idea it does enable is to create a “face show” as Picasa used to do: You could search on one face and make a slideshow video of all the pictures found.