Messing Around With Android’s Movie Studio App

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A few weeks ago I picked up the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. It’s the latest and greatest Android phone, complete with version 4.0 of the operating system more commonly known as Ice Cream Sandwich. I had been patiently waiting to replace my Motorola Droid for a while and when word started spreading that the flagship Android phone would finally be hitting Verizon I knew I wanted to hold off from buying the HTC Thunderbolt, Samsung Droid Charge or anything else that seemed appealing at the time.

Overall, I’ve been very pleased with everything about the phone. ICS is snappy and responsive, pretty close to being on par with iOS 5 from what I can tell. Switching between apps now seems to be everything that it was originally promised to be. I’d almost dare say that after all this time, this might finally be Android’s coming out party.

One of the things that surprised me after I got the phone was the included “Movie Studio” software. This app was released as part of the tablet-only Honeycomb 3.0 software and is making its phone debut in ICS. It’s clearly a response to the mobile version of iMovie, which is to be expected when you have too huge companies competing as fiercely as Apple and Google are. Though I have absolutely zero experience with iMovie I have plenty of experience with professional video editing software so I decided to test out Movie Studio to see what it’s all about.

MovieStudio_01_HomeWhen you first load Movie Studio you’re shown any previous projects that you’ve created and given the choice to create a new one. If you choose to create a new project you’ll be prompted to give it a name before it lets you proceed.

The project window is broken up so that you have your “program monitor” at the top (the window where you can what’s playing in the timeline along with any titles, FX or transitions you’ve added) and your timeline of clips, effects and transitions at the bottom.

If you have any experience with editing programs you’ll notice there’s no “bin” to store all your items. You basically add one element at a time as you need it. If you choose to delete it, that’s it. It’s gone. I suppose that’s just one of the sacrifices that needed to be made to squeeze video editing into a mobile app.

MovieStudio_03_ClipSelectedWhen you add a video clip it lays the entire clip onto the timeline. Long press on the clip in the timeline to edit the in point and out point of the clip by dragging the edges of the clip. This process can be a bit cumbersome since you’re working in a small area. Even with the huge screen on the Galaxy Nexus it’s almost impossible to have any kind of precision. Patience will be your greatest virtue when trying to get things just right.

While the clip is selected you can also apply FX and transitions to spruce things up a bit. The choices are limited, it’s not like we’re working with a portable version of After Effects here. Slap on a wipe, crossfade, fade to/from black, make it sepia, negative or black and white and that’s just about it.

Whenever you do add some sort of transition, effect or title to the timeline the phone takes a bit of time to render it so that you see it in the preview window, only the app doesn’t give you any indication that it’s busy doing something and to hold on a second before you try to do anything else.

I found that it’s generally easier to work with the app in landscape mode as it gives you a wider view of the timeline and makes it a little easier to work with clips. It also puts the play, fast forward and rewind controls off to the left instead of overlaid on the preview window.

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Movie Studio can export your project into a .mp4 file at three different resolutions (all the way up to 1920×1080) and three different qualities. You’re not gonna find any fancy bitrate settings or the ability to completely customize the resolutions (which amount to widescreen 480p, 720p and 1080p). The process doesn’t take too long, maybe a few minutes. I have found that the final movies don’t necessarily render correctly if you add too many transitions or effects and they tend to lose audio sync. You’ll see a couple examples of short videos I made in Move Studio at the end of this post.

It seems that if you have no experience with higher-end video editing software you might get a bit lost as to what to do in Movie Studio. There’s not much official help readily apparent on the web, which is a bit surprising since this is a program that clearly needs a tutorial to help out new users. I guess it is possible that if you just keep playing with it you’ll figure things out in time. Either way, it’s not something that they have to include in the software but it’s definitely a welcomed addition and something fun to play around with.

I’ve embedded a couple videos here so you can see the general quality of what Movie Studio spits out. Neither one of these is all that interesting nor are they going to blow anyone’s socks off. They were both rendered at 1080p, High Quality.

First a cut down of a single video file that I recorded on New Year’s Eve where I added a fade in, title and fade out with a couple cuts in between:

Second, a video of a shuffleboard game I played on Monday where I added a fade in, two crossfade transitions and a fade out:

I hope this gives you a decent idea of what you can expect in Movie Studio, available in the Android operating system 3.0 and above.

Got any tips or videos you made? Share them in the comments!

Kevin Alexander

41 comments

Where the heck does it save the exported file?

I can’t save the video and when I export it, It doesn’t move from zero then i’m thinking It’s not savable so i’m planning to delete it but i can’t ‘coz i like editing with it :D

Sorry for the delayed reply James, exported movies should appear in your gallery with your camera pictures.

I have the galaxy nexus ,,,I can’t seem to edit or highlite a single clip….when I tap on the import the whole thing highlites and I can’t shorten any video….please help if you can

sincerely

ron

Ron, have you tried touching just the side of the clip and dragging to shorten it?

i was having the same problem for export i tried few time and it finaly apear in galery but in movie folder no the same folder of the camera video

Galaxy tablet- i a project that is 4 minutes long with audio but it wont let me export the video. I try change the size and quality but nothing seems to work

Can you tell me how to export the video when you finish one I want to post on YouTube pls fix tis

Thanks for the tip about shorting it, do you do the same about deleting a screen in the middle?

@luis, I’m sorry but I don’t know what to suggest for your problem.

@Bruce, no problem! As for deleting a screen in the middle, you’ll have to remember this is an extremely rudimentary piece of editing software. There’s no “cut” or “split” tool to modify clips. My suggestion for this is to shorten the clip to right before the section you want to remove then add a second instance of the same clip that starts just after the part you want to cut out. It’s cumbersome, but should work.

SIDE NOTE TO EVERYONE: I love that you’re finding this post helpful and I’ll try to suggest things for everyone who has a problem but I might not always have a solution or suggestion.

Thanks for visiting our site and please feel free to take a look around while you’re here.

I have tried and tried to find use in this app, it seems to only work with very very short video clips, does anyone know of another app that they have had success with because i have tried every combination still with no luck on exporting a video.

To anyone who has problems exporting;

Download a filemanager app

it’s the only way to see all the folders in your phone/tablet.

Once you have it you’ll notice that from the main folder (where all your different apps make folders)
contains

DCIM/Camera/

that’s where your device stores pictures and videos

Movies/

that’s where it stores exported clips

…The gallery app is a background running process once you shoot pictures, or download them off the web, every respective app (in this case camera, browser or download manager) posts a log entry that tells the gallery app to refresh a big list of all the files and where they are stored.
Sometimes, for various reasons the gallery app’s list becomes corrupted or due to other reasons can’t add new files, often force closing the respective app from the aplications menu will solve the problem.

But instead of relying on this, use a file manager app because the files will always be there, even when the gallery app doesn’t update

My Samsung Galaxy S3 (Verizon) does not have this installed and I can’t find where I can install it. Is this one of the things that Verizon disabled (like the FM Radio)?

I experimented with the app on a galaxy nexus too. They need to add some more functions/features including image stabilization since it is very difficult to capture a video clip with a cell phone. I also agree that they need to add some other features to simplify creation of reasonable content — better titling, triming, etc.

One thing I was looking for but haven’t found, is there a way to upload the project to the cloud so the exporting can be done on a big fast machine rather than the cell phone?

Larry, as far as I can tell the only way to render is on the phone. You’d have to upload all of your original video clips to a cloud processor any way so it probably would take the same amount of time and less bandwidth.

Good point Kevin, but I have a different use case in mind. Suppose I capture on the phone and create a rough cut there. But, I might return to a desktop/server farm with high-speed wifi so it won’t take as long to upload. I could then edit/touch-up the rough cut and render it.

I know I could do this if I had a full-function NLE on the desktop, but I’m not an experienced editor, so I’m looking for the iMovie equivalent.

Portability would be a big win.

Is there a time limit on movie studio? It seems like at a certain point, it doesn’t let me do anymore

I see it has the option to take stills so I was thinking you could do stop motion. But when I tried it each pic takes up to four seconds to play. Is this just for a pan and scan slideshow or is there a way to adjust to do stop motion?

Frank, there might be a time limit based on available memory or RAM.

Eric, looks like the shortest I could make a still image is 1 second. I don’t believe you’ll be able to do stop motion with this app.

I used this app to make a movie the other night and per your advice downloaded a file manager app (thanks for that, loving that!) and now I can’t find my movie anywhere! Kind of freaking out…Does the app not auto save videos? I watched it back after recording, so I know it recorded. You’re my only hope! ;)

Did you “export” the movie? If not, it only lives inside the app until you do.

Hi! This movie maker is difficult to figure out!! I have a Droid Razor HD and just trying to shorten the video at 1 minute, there are no instructions and I feel really stupid! Plz help me I think I have tried everything… :/ Thx!

Karen, thanks for stopping by. To shorten the video you’ll have to create edit points. Here’s the paragraph above where I explain how to do this:

When you add a video clip it lays the entire clip onto the timeline. Long press on the clip in the timeline to edit the in point and out point of the clip by dragging the edges of the clip. This process can be a bit cumbersome since you’re working in a small area. Even with the huge screen on the Galaxy Nexus it’s almost impossible to have any kind of precision. Patience will be your greatest virtue when trying to get things just right.

so im trying to export my video but it wont let me all it says is… Error has occured. The movie cannot be exported….. ? help idk how to export it im using a LG Motion (Android)

How can i add multiple tracks? i can only put a single music to my entire project :(

How can i add multiple tracks to it? i can only add one.

I am trying to figure out how to delete the audio on my video so that I can voice over and have music.

When I try to export the movie I mase itbkeeps saying Error Occured. Movie Can Not be Exported. How do i export it then??

* I made it keeps saying

Danielle Joanne Weaver Reply

How do I export my video just doesn’t do anything and then cuts off help please

Hi there,

I was just wondering if there is a way to limit an voice recording or other audio clip to a particular image or video clip?
I’m pretty sure that I may have missed something, would really appreciate your help.
Thanks

Ummm I can’t quite get the music. To work on the app it won’t let me add a sound track should I get the other one that’s in the app store or keep trying to fix that but it’d been two weeks already soooooo….

Hi I can’t seem to cut my scene for some reason and I don’t know what to do

can’t export videos please help

It won’t let me import music, any clues as to why?

also cannot impt songs or export the movie please help

Great web site you’ve got here.. It’s difficult to find quality writing like yours nowadays.

I honestly appreciate people like you! Take care!!

How do i sace or export the file?

How do I share my projects when done?

How many transitions is too many? The video and image is no alighned

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