YouTube adds a built-in video editor

Looking to help users polish their uploaded Web videos, YouTube today is launching a simple editor to make quick fixes like trims, rotations, and color effects.

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In an effort to make it easier for YouTube users to make changes to their videos after uploading them, YouTube is rolling out a brand new video editor.

No, this isn't the standalone video editor meant for splicing together clips from multiple videos that's been available in the service's TestTube labs since last year . Instead, it's a new one designed to give users a way to do quick fixes without having to re-upload the video. It's like a retouching tool for photos, but for non-commercial video.

The idea for including an editor came out of eyeballing videos that had been uploaded to the service, YouTube product manager Jason Toff told CNET.

"We noticed a lot of the videos that were uploaded to YouTube could use some polish, some basic video editing," Toff said. "We noticed a lot of videos that had extra footage at the beginning that could have been trimmed off, or some footage at the end that could be trimmed off, a lot of videos that were really shaky and could use stabilization, and dark videos, etc."

The answer is the new tool, which lets users make both quick fixes and more substantial edits to their videos.

YouTube's new visual effects filters, done in a collaboration with Google-owned Picnik.
YouTube's new visual effects filters, done in a collaboration with Google-owned Picnik. YouTube

The quick fixes menu includes basic changes like rotating a video, increasing the fill light to brighten up a dark shot, and adjusting contrast, color temperature, and saturation. Also included are tools to trim the beginning and end of a clip, and stabilize a shaky video--something YouTube introduced to its other editor in March. And it wouldn't be Google if there wasn't an "I'm feeling lucky" button. This does a quick analysis of the video and tweaks its color, brightness, and contrast settings automatically.

The quick fixes menu, including the "I'm feeling lucky" button.
The quick fixes menu, including the "I'm feeling lucky" button. YouTube

What users are likely to latch onto, though, are the new effects tools. YouTube's included 14 effects, which have been developed as part of a collaboration with Picnik, the Web-based photo editing service Google acquired last year . These presets can do things like turn your video into black and white, or make your video look like it was shot on a vintage camera, even if it wasn't. Such effects features are commonplace in desktop video editors, but a standout for a tool that's browser-based.

Lastly, Google's included a quick way to swap out the audio with one of its licensed tracks, something that's long been available, but now sits alongside the other editing tools in a new editor. Here users get the same selection of royalty-free music they'd find on the standalone tool, available if they want to write over any existing video from the clip.

A big change to come with the new editor is that YouTube is letting people make these edits while preserving the original video and any social interaction it's had. That means if you change your mind later on down the road, you can come back and undo it, and YouTube will maintain the video's URL and ID, as well as its view count and comments. There is some limitation over that, however. If a video has more than 1,000 views, any changes (even if it's just a quick lighting fix) require saving the edited version as a new video.

One of the most interesting tidbits in all of this is the fact that YouTube collaborated with Picnik for the filtering effects. It hints that YouTube may, one day, toy with adding premium filters to its editing tools to sell as part of a subscription service, as Picnik does with its own photo filters and effects. As to whether that was in the cards, A YouTube spokesman said simply that the company was "eager to hear feedback on this launch," and that there were no additional announcements about feature updates.

Google says it's rolling out the feature to users this afternoon. In the meantime, you can see a demo video of how the new features work, which I've embedded below:

 

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