Recording life’s precious moments on video seems like such a good idea—until the time comes to boil down an hour of raw, mostly worthless footage into something watchable.
A new, free video editing service called Magisto claims to solve this problem by automatically editing long videos or multiple clips into a short, YouTube-able moment. Magisto launches today in public beta, with a $5.5 million investment led by Horizons Ventures, TechCrunch reports. I took it for spin.
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Setting up a video on Magisto is simple enough. After creating an account, you select video files from your computer—up to 600 MB or 16 clips—and add music, either from your own library or from Magisto’s online stash. (I was surprised to see popular songs like “American Pie” by Don McLean and “Happy Birthday” by The Beatles among Magisto’s offerings, and suspect that not every song has been licensed. I also couldn’t find any way to skip music altogether.)
Magisto’s algorithms then string together a video from what seem like the most important parts of each clip. Magisto claims that it can detect people, pets, toys and landscapes, and knows the differences between them. The auto-editing process also removes noise, adds transitions, stabilizes the footage and turns down the music when someone’s talking.
My test video, which had 12 short clips at 468 MB in total, took about 45 minutes to produce, not including time spent uploading the videos. And the result? Not too bad.
I provided about six minutes of random footage from a party last year, and cracked a smile at some of the good stuff Magisto came up with in its minute and 38-second summary. The mandatory use of music gives the finished product a “highlight reel” aesthetic, for better or worse. I get the sense that Magisto is best for footage with a lot of random activity worth seeing, but not for specific moments that you absolutely must have on tape. My only big nitpick: Oftentimes, the video’s individual cuts were too short. I wanted to see each shot linger for just a bit longer.
Magisto allows users to e-mail video links, share links on Facebook and Twitter, and export the video to YouTube, but I don’t see any way to download the finished clip.
After trying one test video, I’m amused enough with Magisto to try it again in the future. I can do a better job editing on my own, but Magisto will do just fine for those times when it’s not worth the trouble.