Movie Magic in Minutes

For many people, making your movies got a lot easier once the smartphones arrived on the scene because all of a sudden, you always had a video camera on hand. Sometimes, though, even after you shoot hours of clips, you only have a few seconds of really interesting stuff. But still, your parents want videos of the kids, your friends want to see the new puppy, and you can’t get out of it. But what can you do to keep a video entertaining even when you don’t have a lot of decent footage to work with?

Do what Hollywood does: Put all the good stuff in the trailer. Or, skip the script and lard it up with special effects. You can find apps for this sort of thing — most mobile stores have plenty of video-editing programs, but a couple here in this category stand out.

Trailers with iMovie for iOS
Thanks to Apple’s $5 iMovie app for iOS, you can take a total of 10 or 15 seconds of video, stick little clips into a template, customize the text in some prefab graphics — and crank out a summer-movie-style trailer in less than half an hour. (The trailer feature is included in the desktop version of iMovie for the Mac as well.)

To get started, pop open iMovie, tap the + icon. Instead of New Project, choose New Trailer. The app then walks you through the steps of making your whiz-bang trailer. To set the tone, you can choose from a variety of genres for the music and title sequence, like a Saul Bass-inspired 60’s spy movie, a love story, a horror film, a superhero-action flick or even a Bollywood-style musical.


Pick a style and tap the Create button. The next screen has two tabs — Outline and Storyboard. On the Outline screen, type in the personalized text you want to use for the titles. The Storyboard screen shows a bunch of rectangles. Here, you drag in video clips from your Camera Roll. The app tells you the type of shot to use so you match the title sequence – like an action shot or a close-up. The iMovie app also tells you how many seconds the clip will last in the sequence. By dragging your finger on the screen, you can select the exact frames from within the clip to appear.


Once you fill in all the text and fill up the rectangles with various clips, tap the Full Screen button to see the trailer play. You can go back and adjust the videos and text as needed. When finished, you can export the finished trailer to your Camera Roll or upload it to Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo or other video sites. You can see a sample of iMovie Trailers in action here.

Special Effects with FxGuru for Android
Want to add some cool blockbuster action effects to your otherwise bland video clip of the kids standing around trying not to fight in the backyard? Check out FxGuru: Movie FX Director, which is available free in the Google Play Store. This is an app that lets you mix things like robots, explosions and spaceships into your own home video as you shoot it, because nothing jazzes up a scene like an alien spaceship hovering overhead. You get a few special effects for free — like the falling satellite or dancing Android man — and can buy more as inspiration overtakes you. The effects come in six-packs for about $6.50 each and you can add things like mech attacks and dinosaurs to the video.

The app is pretty easy to use. Just select an effect from the menu and FxGuru puts an outline of where that special effect will get overlaid onto your own live-action video. Tap the Record button and hold it for 10 to 20 seconds while you get the kids or the dog to do something related to the effect you picked.


Once you stop recording, FX Guru matches up timing and motion as it blends the effect to create a clip you can then e-mail, save to your Google Drive, post on YouTube or transfer by Bluetooth. You just need the kids to cooperate for less than a minute and then you can share a much more memorable video. Want to see a sample of FxGuru? Click here.

Got the hang of it? Next stop, Los Angeles — or at least to the phone when your mother calls and wants to know why there’s a T-Rex running through the backyard while her grandchildren are out there.

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