iPad video editing finally supports translucent logo overlays!
Now you can edit video on your iPad and include translucent logo overlays via alpha channel.
By Allan Tépper | February 14, 2014
Back in 2012, I wrote about many editors’ frustration about iPad video editing apps that (back then) unfortunately did not respect alpha channel in logos they imported, to allow for translucency. Most producer/editors I know who edit 1080p video capsules for the web demand this capability, especially for their lower thirds. For many, this issue has been the only reason they have continued to use a laptop to edit video. This has now changed. For those editors and organizations, this change represents a quantum leap! Details ahead!
Recap of 2012 article
On June 26, 2012, I published the article Flaw in Avid Studio & iMovie for iPad makes them more appropriate for broadcast news than for new media. In that article, I pointed out the flaw: At that time, neither app would respect the alpha channel from a PNG file that included it. Rather than showing the file’s native translucency, they would unfortunately show a complete white rectangle over the video background. The point was that with traditional broadcast news, lower thirds and other graphics are rarely added during editing of video capsules (a.k.a. “packages”), but are inserted “live” during the actual show where they are inserted, so for traditional broadcast news, it was a non-issue. On the other hand, new media (i.e. direct upload of videos to the public web) absolutely must have their lower third and other graphics inserted during editing. Although Vimeo Pro allows for translucent graphics on its custom player (as I covered in point 7 of my 2012 article called 11 things I love about Vimeo Pro), that is not quite the same as a “bug” or lower third, especially since it cannot change scene-by-scene, and for other obvious reasons.
What hardware and software I used to verify this
Thanks to my friend and photographer Sofía Izarra, I used the iPad Air that she lent me for this and other tests. At testing and publication time of this article, it was with iOS 7.0.4 and Pinnacle Studio 4.07 (previously known as Avid Studio for iPad, before Avid’s divestment of several divisions in 2012, as covered in this article).
I transferred a PNG version of one of my lower thirds (which were prepared by designer Gonzalo Mendiola of iViUX) to the iPad Air. In Pinnacle Studio 4.07 (which currently costs US$12.99 via the U.S. iTunes or AppStore), I moved the graphic to be a “Picture-in-Picture” and and was happily surprised that it now supported the alpha channel properly, without any special user intervention. (I am really not sure whether the improvement over the prior test is due to a fix in this app, or in the iOS version, or a combination of both.) Then I expanded the graphic to full screen, since it is designed at 1920x1080, although most of it is just empty alpha channel. The reason I originally asked Gonzalo to do it that way (of course, within video safe area) was to assure consistency in size and position when I use it in different video editors.
Then I went to upload the video to my Vimeo Pro account, and got the following surprise, as you'll see below...
The unexpected in-app purchase, with the mistranslated preposition
When I went to tap to upload the video to my Vimeo Pro account, I was surprised with the above in-app purchase dialog, which (sadly) includes a major error in its Castilian translation/localization. I didn’t realize until that moment that Corel (the new owner of the Pinnacle Studio for iPad app, which was originally called Avid Studio for iPad) was charging an additional US$4.99 on top of the US$12.99 for the feature necessary to upload to Vimeo or Vimeo Pro. The US$4.99 Cloud Connection Pack actually includes several other features. In addition to uploading to Vimeo (or Vimeo Pro), the Cloud Connection Pack also offers connectivity to Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft SkyDrive, and this means bidirectional connectivity not only of audio/video clips (i.e. upload/download), but also of complete Pinnacle Studio projects (i.e. EDL together with associated media) for collaborating on them with other iPads or with Pinnacle Studio for Windows. The translator that Corel hired to localize the app unfortunately mistranslated the preposition “for” in the in-app upsell dialog box, since in this particular case s/he should have used the preposition por instead of para to say Buy Cloud Connection Pack for US$4.99 in Castilian. I didn’t mind having to spend the US$4.99 for this capability. However, I would like to see the app offer more options during export (or when creating a new project). I am glad that the app now offers 1080p export. However, I am concerned that it does not offer the option to specify the framerate of the rendered video. It really should offer at least the four most popular: 1080/23.976p, 1080/24.000p, 1080/25p, and 1080/29.97p. I will be doing further tests to see whether the app silently matches the framerate of the first edited clip, and also whether it matches the audio sampling of the first edited clip. I will cover those details in upcoming articles.
What video formats and cameras can directly feed an iPad for video editing?
The iPad (and therefore the iPad video editing apps) can handle H.264 as MOV or MP4. Obviously, this means that means that video footage from an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch will work, as will cameras that comply (at least partially) with my Beyond AVCHD Manifesto of 2013. Pro cameras that record H.264 as MP4 or MOV (not with the labyrinthic and tortuous AVCHD file structure) include the Canon XA20/XA25 (in MP4 mode), the Panasonic Lumix GH4 (in MP4 or MOV 1080p mode), and the Sony NX3 (in MP4 mode, but that sadly means only 720p at a low 3.5 Mb/s). I still have hope that Sony will someday offer firmware upgrades for their NXCAMs to allow for 1080p MP4 recordings and be more compliant with the Beyond AVCHD Manifesto.
At present, the iPads released at the end of 2013 (and therefore the video editing apps for iPad) cannot handle 4K, raw video, or ProRes422/DNxHD footage. However, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the iPads that will likely be released at the end of 2014 handled 4K.
Other video editing software for iPad
As of publishing time of this article, I don’t know whether the latest versions of iMovie, TouchEdit (reviewed by Scott Simmons in February 2013) or any other video editing app for the iPad properly respects alpha channels from PNG graphics the way Pinnacle Studio fortunately now does. I know that back in 2012 when I first researched this issue with Rubén Abruña, iMovie for iPad did not. When TouchEdit was first released, I wrote the developer to ask whether it did, but received no answer.
For whom this change is this a quantum leap?
I see this change being a quantum leap for those producers who need to edit 1080p capsules, primarily for the web, insist upon having a translucent logo with their lower thirds, and have been purchasing more expensive laptops to edit as a result. However, I remain concerned about the issues mentioned above (setting framerate and audio sampling rate) and will cover the results in upcoming articles. At present, this situation does not affect higher-end productions that demand ProRes422/DNxHD, or 4K. It may —or may not— be practical for long form editing editing. That is yet to be determined.
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My latest book (paperback + ebook)
My most recent book is available in two languages, and in paperback as well as an ebook. The ebook format is Kindle, but even if you don’t have a Kindle device, you can read Kindle books on many other devices using a free Kindle app. That includes iPad, Android tablets, Mac computers, and Windows computers. Although generally speaking, Kindle books are readable on smartphones like Androids and iPhones, I don’t recommend it for this particular book since it contains both color photos and color comparison charts. The ebook is also DRM-free.
In English, it is currently available in the following Amazon stores, depending upon your region:
- Amazon.com, for the US and other countries in the Americas that don’t currently have their own Amazon store, or anywhere if you simply prefer it
- Amazon.br for Brazil
- Amazon.ca for Canada
- Amazon.de for Germany
- Amazon.es for Spain pero a lo mejor lo preferirás en castellano, a continuación)
- Amazon.fr for France
- Amazon.in for India
- Amazon.it for Italy
- Amazon.co.jp for Japan
- Amazon.com.mx for México
- Amazon.co.uk for the United Kingdom
Or in your favorite bookstore by requesting ISBN–10: 1456310232 or ISBN–13: 978–1456310233.
En castellano, está disponible actualmente en las siguientes tiendas Amazon, según tu región:
- Amazon.com para EE.UU. y todas las Américas donde no existe ninguna tienda particular… o en cualquier parte si simplemente lo prefieres
- Amazon.com.br para Brasil
- Amazon.co.jp para Japón
- Amazon.de para Alemania
- Amazon.es para España
- Amazon.fr (Francia)
- Amazon.in para India
- Amazon.it para Italia
- Amazon.com.mx para México
- Amazon.co.uk para el Reino Unido
o en tu librería preferida al solicitar el ISBN–10: 1492783390 ó el ISBN–13: 978–1492783398.
Allan Tépper’s other books, consulting, articles, seminars & audio programsContact Allan Tépper for consulting, or find a full listing of his books, articles and upcoming seminars and webinars at AllanTepper.com. Listen to his TecnoTur program, which is now available both in Castilian (aka "Spanish") and in English, free of charge. Search for TecnoTur in iTunes or visit TecnoTur.us for more information.
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