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Is the Future of Video Editing Plug-and-Play Template-Based?

Jourdan Aldredge

Let’s explore the pros and cons of this new template-based trend in video editing and determine which ones are worth checking out.

As anyone who’s worked in film and video for long enough can tell you, the industry is always evolving. Not only do exciting new cameras seem to come out every quarter, with high pixel counts and new features, but our editing software is getting smarter, faster, and easier to use.

A solid example of this type of industry breakthrough is the sudden rise of template-based video editing platforms. If you’re a seasoned video editor working with programs like Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Final Cut Pro, and DaVinci Resolve, then there’s a chance you haven’t seen some of these newer offerings. And that’s because they haven’t really been “aimed” at you just yet.

Instead, these platforms are geared toward the growing ranks of on-the-fly content creators who are exploring the world of video editing for the first time and appear to be open to new ways of doing things that don’t involve NLEs.

So, are these template-based apps any good? Will they ever rival industry favorites like Premiere Pro or Final Cut? Let’s explore this new world of plug-and-play template-based video editing apps to see which ones might be worth a look.

A Primer on Template-Based Editing

Alright, before we take a look at the current world of template-based video editing, let’s backtrack a bit.

In the beginning, film was edited by hand and scissors and nifty editing machines like the one Frances McDormand used in Hail, Caesar!. Eventually, the industry moved to digital video editing.

With digital editing came the introduction of non-linear editing platforms—aka NLEs—which made editing simple and easy to manage. With an NLE, clips could be edited, arranged, and set along a timeline (or sequence).

Today, everyday content creators—folks who might not be “traditional” video editors but still need to cut video—can edit clips and assets by simply picking and choosing pre-made templates. These templates can range from simple shot-by-shot designs to sophisticated video formats complete with dynamic transitions, flashy text functions, stylized overlays, and plenty of other A/V bells and whistles.

For a quick list, here are some of the current best template-based editing apps currently on the market:

Focusing in on a couple, let’s explore how these apps work and how they might help video editors of different skill levels.

Adobe Spark

Like many of the options in the burgeoning realm of template-based video editing, Adobe Spark’s origins are rooted in a web design perspective. Adobe Spark is a combination of three previous Adobe products (Spark Page, Spark Post, and Spark Video) which all focused on allowing creators to edit and share visual stories from any device.

Ultimately, a majority of these template-based editing apps are designed for the creation of social media video. As such, Spark directs you (at start up) to choose from a variety of templates specifically tailored for video (or image) on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

This one’s a good option to start off with for anyone who might already be an Adobe user and part of the Creative Cloud. Its simplified format should make it easy for anyone to create videos, ads, or stories directly from their phones.

Vimeo Create

Another solid option to consider is Vimeo Create, which is a more recent—and pretty powerful—name on the list. Similar to Adobe Spark, Vimeo is easy to use by anyone of any skill level. It has tons of templates to choose from with plenty of customization available.

With any of these apps, you’re really looking at three things: 

  1. How professional does it make your videos look based on elements like design, motion, and audio?
  2. How customizable is it for creators who want to mix in their own assets with pre-made ones?
  3. How easy is the process of logging in, getting set up, and publishing directly to social channels?

Here’s a good video breaking down the process for creating videos with Vimeo Create.

Reviewing Template-Based Editing

Overall, template-based editing is pretty straightforward. It’s easy to use, easy to customize, and perfect for quickly creating videos for social media. However, template-based functionality obviously has its drawbacks. You can’t finely-tune your edits. Additionally, you can’t always choose your own transitions or effects, and there’s very limited control of the overall product.

Serious video editors should at the least take notice. There’s something appealing about this new editing style—it could be quite advantageous for the right advertising agencies or as a tool for internal marketing teams looking to circumvent traditional video production.

For video professionals interested in new trends and technologies, I recommend checking out some of the options above. You can familiarize yourself with the competition (so to speak), but you also might be able to integrate some of the apps (or elements of them) into your own video production services and offerings.

For more video editing tips, tricks, and industry insights, check out these articles:

Cover image via beeboys.