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How to Improve Video on iOS Before Editing

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Just because you’re shooting video using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch doesn’t mean you have to settle for shaky or drab video. Jeff Carlson, author of iPad and iPhone Video: Film, Edit, and Share the Apple Way, spotlights tools for improving video before you share it or edit it in iMovie.
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Video editors on the Mac or Windows benefit from a variety of tools that can help improve footage during the editing process. Even at the low end, iMovie for OS X includes features for reducing camera shake and adjusting the color of video clips.

But what about iOS? Footage captured using an iPhone or iPad is often edited directly on the device using iMovie for iOS or other tools. Are you stuck with shaky or off-color video?

Two apps described in this article are great for polishing your footage before you start editing it.


Unless you’re mounting an iOS device on a tripod or a handheld stabilizer, it’s easy to end up with slightly (or dramatically) shaky footage when recording video.

One option to avoid the jitters is to shoot using an app such as ZeroShake (free with in-app purchases), which takes advantage of the device’s accelerometer to know its position in space and compensates for movement as you record. However, more likely you’re shooting using the built-in Camera app or another app.

Emulsio (free with in-app purchases) examines a clip and automatically applies image-stabilization to it—the software zooms into the frame a bit and then rotates and zooms individual frames so they match up with the previous frames.

You can control the amount of stabilization using a simple slider or by changing or disabling specific types of compensation (such as Translation Compensation, the direction of the camera, and Rotation Compensation, how the camera was turned). Two views give you an idea of what’s happening. A Live Comparison split view shows the stabilized and original footage next to each other, while the Stabilizer Data Reporting view offers numeric adjustments.

When you’re happy with the result, export the stabilized clip back to the Camera Roll or open it directly in a compatible app (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 Stabilize shaky footage using Emulsio.


Plenty of image editors let you adjust the color and tone of still photos, but what if your video needs a change of white balance or a boost in saturation? Turn to the app known as VideoGrade.

Load a clip into VideoGrade to change exposure, contrast, vibrance, color temperature, brightness, and saturation. The Recovery tool brings details out of shadows and highlights. You can also make the clip black and white, with controls for choosing which color channel to base the effect on; adjust individual red, green, and blue channels; apply a vignette; or tint the color of the clip.

One of the best features is the capability to save color presets, so you can easily apply the same look to related clips (see Figure 2).

When finished, you can export the clip to the Camera Roll for editing.

Figure 2 Adjust the color temperature and more options in VideoGrade.

About the Author: Jeff Carlson

Jeff Carlson is a columnist for the Seattle Times, a senior editor of the weekly electronic newsletter TidBITS, and a frequent contributor to publications such as Macworld and Photoshop Elements Techniques magazines. He is also the author of numerous books, including three editions of The iPad Pocket Guide, iPad for Photographers, The iMovie '11 Project Book, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Pocket Guide, and Canon PowerShot G12: From Snapshots to Great Shots. Find more information about Jeff at and, and follow him on Twitter at @jeffcarlson.

See more books and articles by Jeff Carlson.

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