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Both Windows 10 and Windows 11 include capable, easy video editing tools courtesy of the Photos app. There’s even a Video Editor icon in the Start menu that takes you to the video section of the app, but folks still may not realize the capability is there. That will all change in an upcoming Windows 11 update: Clipchamp is the heir apparent to Windows’ long absent Windows Movie Maker. The company acquired the app in 2021 and is adding it to the OS’s repertoire. The app seems targeted for use by small businesses and social media posters, and you may want to stick with the more-than-adequate video capabilities of the Photos app because it offers more fun tools and flexibility.
Clipchamp is a progressive web app (PWA), meaning it’s actually a website that acts like an application. Similar to Canva, it focuses on the needs of marketers who want to make a quick hit on social media using meme-like, template-based designs.
Being web-based doesn’t mean it’s less responsive than a native app. It uses powerful graphics hardware acceleration to perform mostly like a desktop application. The web backing also makes for easy sharing and access from multiple locations.
Clipchamp’s editing features are free, but with a paid subscription you get unlimited online storage and more stock content. Paid plans start at $9 per month for the Creator plan, which includes audio stock. The Business Plan ($19 per month) adds a Brand kit. The top-level Business Platinum plan, for $39 per month, adds unlimited video and image stock usage and premium templates. The lower plans include watermarks on stock footage.
For comparison, we can consider Canva, an app for video and image editing used frequently for marketing and social media. A free plan with Canva lacks some editing features you get with the paid plans, but it includes thousands of templates, hundreds of stock photos, and 5GB online storage in two folders. Canva's $12.99-per-month Pro plan gets you stock photos and video, and 100GB storage in unlimited folders. An Enterprise account costs $30 per month and adds team features, more branding tools, and unlimited storage.
Other installable video editing software can be had for a one-time purchase price: CyberLink PowerDirector goes for $99.99 (also available as a $19.99 per month subscription); Adobe Premiere Elements and Corel VideoStudio both cost the same $99.99 outright, and Movavi Video Editor Plus is just $74.95.
Of course, the video editing features of Microsoft Photos are free, as is iMovie on macOS. Another online video editor with a marketing bent is Promo, which starts at $25 per month. Veed.io has a free level with 2GB storage and 720p output. Its Pro version costs $24 per month and includes 100GB and 4K output.
Though it’s going to be included with Windows 11, Clipchamp also works in Windows 10. You can get it in the Microsoft Store, also known as the Window’s app store. Clipchamp is also available on the the web, in mobile app stores, and on the macOS App Store.
To use Clipchamp, you need to either create a Clipchamp account or log in to a different supported account, such as a Microsoft, Facebook, Google, or Dropbox account (the options differ by platform). It's possible that Microsoft could require you to have a Microsoft account to use Clipchamp once it starts including the app in Windows 11.
Once you’re logged in, you see an attractive welcome screen offering templates to get you started with creating your video project. Options include slideshows, ads, social media posts, and more. Down the left side are choices for other views, including Brand Kit (for more businesslike uses of the app), Template, and Folders.
At the bottom of that home screen, you can click or tap Create a Movie to enter Clipchamp’s editing interface. You still see the template options along the left, but now you also have the tools for adding media, music, stock images, text, graphics, and transitions.
You can add clips not only from the local folders, but also using an attached or inbuilt webcam, and even from an online media storage source like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Photos, OneDrive, and Zoom recorded meetings. When using your PC’s webcam, you can choose to show a picture-in-picture with the camera view overlaid inside your screen.
The interface does a wonderful job of revealing tools as you need them. For example, you tap on a video clip in the timeline and buttons appear at the top for Layout, Transform, Filters, Adjust Colors, and Fade. You get the standard three-panel layout found in most video apps, for source media, preview window, and timeline along the bottom. The relative sizes of any of these panels is adjustable by dragging the border between them.
The interface is touch-friendly, too, as I found on my test Surface Pro 8. Video shortcuts like spacebar to play and pause, S to split a clip, and the arrow keys to scrub back and forth are at your service, but you don’t get pro editing shortcuts like J, K, L for reverse, pause and play, and I and O for in and out. A question mark icon not only has a search for help topics, but also lets you chat with support reps.
An added benefit of Clipchamp being a web app is that a project you create on your PC will show up if you sign in to the app on another platform or in a web browser, though it doesn’t store media in the cloud unless you spring for a subscription. I expect this could change if you use OneDrive storage. One downside to Clipchamp being a PWA is that web navigation sometimes works against you. For example, on a touchpad, swiping two fingers takes you back in web history, which means out of your Clipchamp project.
It’s a snap to drag a clip from the media panel on the left or click its plus sign to send it to the timeline. It’s rather iMovie-like in that you can drag above the top track to create a new one. I added ten tracks without the program breaking a sweat. Other video editors like PowerDirector boast about supporting up to 100 tracks, though most users will never need more than a dozen.
Trimming track ends is a simple matter of grabbing and dragging the mouse cursor on the side of a clip you want to trim. To split a clip, use the scissors icon. Grab a clip in the middle and you can drag it side to side or even up or down to a different track. The Transform tool makes it easy to resize, flip, rotate, or adjust the opacity of a clip.
You add transitions simply by dragging one of the 20 good-looking options between two clips. It handles any required overlapping automatically. Just don’t expect the hundreds of creative transitions, such as 3D and seamless transitions, you find in tools like PowerDirector or VideoStudio.
Thirty filters deliver a range of looks, from Muted and Gloomy to Euphoric and Disco. You can hover over them to see them applied to the current clip in your preview window. Some actually apply motion as well as color and focus effects. Among the filters is a Green Screen effect, which worked well in testing.
Picture-in-Picture doesn’t even feel like an advanced effect in the app, since a simple button to the right of the preview window lets you snap a clip to a corner. You can then resize it to taste, though you can’t rotate it.
Graphics overlays include bars, Giphys, and Stickers, but the selection isn't extensive. For example, there are no text bubbles, stars, or hearts. Competitors like Corel VideoStudio and CyberLink PowerDirector offer extensive libraries with editing and animation options. They also offer a wealth of effects and tools you don’t see in Clipchamp, like motion tracking, and keyframe editing. Those apps also greatly exceed Clipchamp in color grading, though Clipchamp does offer adjustments for exposure, contrast, color temperature, and saturation.
Another type of special effect is video speedup and slowdown, which Clipchamp does have. Its speedometer icon shows Slow, Normal, and Fast. You can set the speed from 0.1x to 16x, though there’s no ramp-up or freeze frame options.
Templates ease the video creation process for nonprofessionals. They are a strength for Clipchamp. YouTube options are especially strong. You don’t have to use a template for an entire video. You can just choose an outro template that urges your viewers to subscribe to your channel, for example. There are a lot of video game templates too, for those who like to flaunt their Halo skillz.
You’ll find both horizontal and vertical templates for TikTok and the like. You can search for a topic, and they range from the very personal (Grandparents' Day) to the very corporate (Marketing Intro). Indeed, there are a lot of templates for ads, sales, and marketing, so small businesses should check Clipchamp out.
The templates include stock footage and background music that you can use or replace with your own content. Many of the templates are for very short things like text overlays, social handles, TikTok vertical shorts, and split-screen layouts.
Though you can see what kind of content is required for each replacement with your own content, I prefer Apple iMovie’s Storyboards (and previous Trailers) feature, which explicitly tell you things like “wide shot,” “group shot,” and “close-up” to indicate what kind of clip works well in each position of the template.
Clipchamp offers 42 text overlay styles, many with animation, grouped into sets for Title, Caption, Two-Line, Special, and Intro/Outro. They’re mostly in styles you’d see in advertisements, though there are a few fun ones, like Glitch, Groovy, and Smoke. A nice thing about these templates is that the font isn’t baked in. You can select from more than 60 typefaces. You also have complete control over font color, as you can see from the screenshot above. Some of the styles let you move around and resize to taste, while some of the more stylized ones only let you resize and move to the corners or center.
There are just 11 background music soundtracks available for free, with 21 more available to Business level subscribers. As with other clip types, you can simply drag a soundtrack onto your timeline. Clipchamp on Windows 11 also lets you separate a clip's audio and save it as a separate M4A file (it didn’t work in the Windows 10 version of Clipchamp). You can then adjust the volume of both that and any soundtrack with a simple slider.
There’s no sound editing like removing background noise, hum, or hiss—features you find in most enthusiast video editing software these days. You do, however, get some sound effects, such as fireworks, children shrieking, and a Chinese gong. But the free ones are an odd collection, with many basics like footsteps and car crashes behind the paywall.
One of the digs against Clipchamp until recently was that it didn’t let you export HD video without paying a subscription, but now free accounts can export to 1080p. That’s probably good enough for social and personal sharing, since you don’t want to be transferring gigabytes of data for those purposes. You can also save your project as a GIF if it’s under 15 seconds.
The export screen offers buttons for sharing your movie as a video link from Clipchamp itself, as well as output options to Google Drive, YouTube, TikTok, OneDrive, Dropbox, Pinterest, Box, and LinkedIn. It works well as far as it goes, but you have no control over settings like the file type or bitrate. The option to save your exported file doesn't appear until after rendering is complete.
In my testing, exporting took much longer than it did with competing video editing apps. Clipchamp took more than 7 minutes to do a job that other programs only needed about 2 minutes to do, and that was using simpler 2D transitions instead of the more complex (though commonly available) 3D transitions I use for the test with other software. I don’t expect Clipchamp users to be producing feature-length titles, however. It’s more for 30-second promotions or TikTok videos.
In many ways, I prefer the video editing features in the Windows Photos app, especially for personal projects like family vacations or skateboarding compilations. Clipchamp is more for the social marketer and small business user who needs to create promotional clips and advertisements, along the lines of what Canva does.
Nothing is stopping you from using either Clipchamp or Canva for casual personal uses, though, and Clipchamp’s free account has all the same editing tools that you get in the paid account. At the same time, Clipchamp isn't designed to be a simple, mostly template-driven tool, so don’t expect things like motion tracking, advanced transitions and titling, keyframe effect editing, audio filters, output file settings, or quick rendering. For those features, you're better off using one of our Editors’ Choice video editors, PowerDirector or Corel VideoStudio.
Going Linux · Show Notes 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 20...Read More