I have been teaching smartphone filmmaking for years now as an accessible way of making professional content without breaking the bank.
But within weeks this Autumn my two go-to apps for enhancing filming and editing - independently of each other - changed the cost of the game, and not for the better.
First to hike up their charges was Filmic Pro (complete with new logo). A long-time favourite of smartphone filmers that works on Androids and i-phone. It was good for newcomers and seasoned professionals alike. They cancelled their £12.99 annual subscription option for iOS users and brought in an eye-watering £2.99 a week subscription. That’s £155.48 a year!! They upped the costs for Androids this week too. When I joined the crowds on social media to clamour for a reason (and complain), I was told they had recently been bought out by a new company and felt it was time to change their model. They say they are still figuring out the new pricing options.
Next up my old faithful editing tool Kinemaster. This was £23.99 a year
which seemed a lot but the free version had a small watermark on it and the paid version was great value for what you could do on it. It is now £10 a month or £119.00 a year. I will still pay that as it is the only app that is really attentive to audio editing needs but this price puts it out of reach of anyone who is dipping in and out of phone film creation.
The app was pushing subscribers to move to version 6 but I held on to v5.2. It is now greyed out and the word ‘old’ written over it. (how rude!) I have been told I will still get support on v5.2 until spring. The free version has such a huge watermark that it can't be worked around.
We at Pocket Stories are continuing to communicate with both app companies to persuade them to re-think their pricing. But meanwhile we have been investigating alternatives. Sadly, many of them work for either Android or iPhones (not both) and many do not give users the same versatility as the now over-priced options.
Here’s a guide to what we’ve discovered so far. If you’ve come across other good options do let us know!
Filming app alternatives
Beastcam Pro Camera (iOS) £1.79 annual subscription
The best (and cheaper) alternative to FilmicPro. Does almost everything that Filmic does including cinematic stabilisation for later models of iPhone. But the focus controls are less intuitive and don't give you the same ability to focus up close and macro. The absence of wheels for adjustments makes the interface less intuitive.
You can't save the filming direct to camera roll though - the function works for photos but not video - so you have to save it afterwards.
Pro Camera by Moment (iOS) £5.99 annual subscription.
A really clean interface and it’s easy-to-use. Also their support team has been really responsive. But if you like stabilisation enhancements then this isn’t for you. And the app developers have said they’re not planning to add that feature any time soon. Given this is more expensive we are sticking to BeastCam but if the prices level up I would consider ProCam for sure.
Open Camera (Android) FREE
Open Camera is the standard for a lot of “free” camera apps you will see on the Google Play store. It’s simple, gets the job done and is full of features – but it can be quite clunky and there is a method to getting everything to work the way you want it to. It’s not as flexible as you might think but is a great way to up your game from the native camera.
MCPro24fps.com (Android) £15.99 annual subscription
MCPro24fps is the biggest contender to Filmic Pro. It might look complicated at first, but the app is quite similar to Filmic Pro with its use of the “wheels” on the left and right side of the screens. It’s quite advanced, but once you understand it all, it gives you the power and flexibility to shoot how you want. It even supports a wide variety of stabilisation options and power user features such as applying a LUT (a filter essentially) live.
iPhone – Beastcam - Pro Camera with Pro Camera by Moment a runner up.
Android – Open Camera (if on a tight budget) MCPro24fps.com if willing to spend more.
Editing app alternatives
Adobe Premiere Rush (Android and iOS) FREE or Pro £9.98 a month
The free version of this is basic but works simply and gets you started. You can manage the order of your clips, add basic graphics, alter the volume of your audio and do transitions. The music library is very limited and the audio features very basic.
The pro version gives you much more access to graphics templates and royalty-free music. You also have a little more control over your audio. But, surprisingly for Adobe, the audio controls remain far too limited making audio dipping and mixing really tricky to control. There’s a lot of pushback in the community so we’re hoping Adobe will up their game.
Lumafusion (iOS only currently) £25.99
This has been around a long time and is mainly an iOS tool. It is effective but a very functional interface. It isn’t currently available for android- we are checking when it will be and will update when we know.
FilmoraGO Video Editor & Maker FREE with ads or £32.19 as a one time purchase (50% off currently or £3.09 monthly) to remove the watermark and enable the templates/1080p video.
It allows you to bring in another layer as “PiP” (Picture in Picture) mode, but you will need to manually resize it to cover the screen. With this, you can technically edit in a similar way to Kinemaster, but it's still not able to edit in landscape. It does offer cool stock imagery, music and automated subtitling.
VN Video Editor - Free for 100 projects (Pro £66.88 annual or 9.49 monthly ) This has lots of features – FX/animation, templates, layers, audio fade in and fade out and is a simple interface. It has good user reviews and it’s free for the first 100 edits is helpful for new starters. It is not as versatile as Kinemaster – especially on audio editing. However, it has some unexpectedly sophisticated animations options with key framing. firstname.lastname@example.org. You can make your timeline landscape but you can’t edit in landscape.
VN Video Editor – if you’re doing shorter edits. If you need to do more than that you’ll need to save up for Kinemaster.
We will be testing out many more apps in the months ahead so please let us know if you have any you'd like us to check out or any feedback of your own. Email us: email@example.com
Meanwhile check your settings to switch off ‘auto-renew’ if you already have Filmic Pro or Kinemaster to make sure you don't get an unwelcome big bill.