For years, I’ve been looking for a video editing solution that would allow students, who are often beginners with video editing, to succeed at creating a micro-documentary film. If I could have it my way, I would simply teach iMovie and not think much about other options, but that doesn’t allow students who are not Mac users to transfer those skills to other environments outside of our sleek multimedia lab on campus. iMovie also doesn’t allow students to work on their projects from home very easily.
I’d been dragging my feet about fully committing to introducing WeVideo because the short experiments I’d done with the program left me feeling extremely limited and slightly frustrated by the lack of options. But this isn’t about me. It’s about them. Can it help true beginners assemble documentaries and other digital stories from any computer and produce a reasonable result with limited frustration?
To answer this question, I sat down to reacquaint myself with WeVideo, a web-based video editor, to see if it might be a feasible option for beginners to use in my course. My initial assessment is that it could work, but some students will want to graduate to an editor with more options pretty quickly. We have access to Premiere and Final Cut Pro in all of the campus multimedia labs, but I don’t want to spend weeks teaching students how to operate complex software; that’s not the objective of this English class. Sure, I can support those students who choose to “go big” with their films, but I don’t expect film-major video quality from their final projects.
Separating Audio from Video Tracks
From my research, I’ve noticed that WeVideo doesn’t have the capability to allow a user to separate/extract the audio from a video track. The student would have to use a hack to make this occur by separating the audio and video outside of WeVideo.
The best way to separate audio and video tracks outside of WeVideo is to use QuickTime. You can use the File/Export function in Quicktime to export just the audio. It will save it as an MPEG-4 file, which you can upload to WeVideo as an audio track without additional conversion. Knowing this easy work-around makes me like WeVideo a little bit more than I did before. I find audio/video track separation to be an essential function when editing a documentary.
Another bonus of WeVideo is that it allows users to upload files in many different formats, which eliminates a lot of frustration that students have experienced with iMovie in the past. iMovie 11 wouldn’t read the video codec from MP4 files, which forced students to download a freeware (Handbrake) to do an additional conversion, which led to extreme frustration.
Ease of Use / Independence During Editing
I’m hoping to encourage independence during the editing process. WeVideo may be the ticket to empowering students to edit their videos on their own, with limited frustration and need for support. Still, I am not an expert on all of WeVideo’s bugs, but I think I know enough to give the program a try. The positives may outweigh the negatives for this specific purpose.
Only time will tell.