YouTube Launches Web-Based Video Editor (With Details From The Folks Who Made It)

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This morning, news broke of a spiffy, and very powerful new feature on YouTube: a built-in video editor. It’s a feature that I’ve personally been longing for for years, and it’s going to be a huge deal for anyone who uploads to YouTube on a semi-regular basis. This morning I spoke with Rushabh Doshi and Josh Siegel, the lead engineer and product manager for YouTube’s video editor, respectively, about how the feature came to fruition and what users can look forward to in the future.

The JavaScript-based YouTube editor isn’t loaded with bells and whistles, but it can handle the basics just fine: it’s easy to trim and splice together the video clips that you’ve uploaded, and you can replace your video’s audio with any of YouTube’s library of 40,000 approved songs (you can’t upload your own audio yet, but YouTube is working on deals to make that happen).

Siegel says that the core idea behind the video editor is to give users the basic features they need in the cloud. YouTube isn’t out to recreate existing video editors like Final Cut in the browser — he notes that many people aren’t even familiar with them. Instead, it’s taking the core features that have broad appeal and putting them in a lightweight package that’s accessible from nearly any browser.  YouTube has also learned from its experiment with with YouTube Remixer, a mashup feature launched in 2007 that didn’t have a particularly good user experience.

Doshi added that one of the main goals with the project is to keep the interface very lightweight for the user, leaving all the intense processing to Google’s massive infrastructure. He contrasts that with current video editing solutions — even if they’re easy to use, low and medium end computers can struggle at quickly editing content that’s shot in HD. That isn’t a problem when you’re doing your editing in the cloud.

Siegel and Doshi were hesitant to talk too much about what we can expect from the video editor in the future, explaining that it will depend on what users are asking for. That said, they did hint at a few features. First, they said that they’re “really excited” about the opportunities provided by the iPad and other mobile devices, so we can probably count on that coming fairly soon.

They also mentioned some features that are being considered, including video transitions, effects, titles, and audio layers (again, these will be implemented pending user demand). Finally, they said that they’re looking into a way to deal with mashup videos that combine both high and low resolution content (right now if one video in a mashup is low quality, it downgrades all of them).

One other thing to note: YouTube says that the feature is slated to launch later this evening, but there’s a chance that it might slip til tomorrow. When it does go live, you’ll be able to access it at YouTube.com/testtube.

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