Video is becoming an integral part of a successful marketing plan. A unique, non-promotional video can be instantly shareable, garnering the kind of online attention companies stuck in traditional advertising models can only dream to obtain.
However, while video marketing is becoming standard practice in the online business space, video production is only now beginning to embrace all things Internet with new cloud-based productions services from giants like Google and Adobe to startups like WeVideo and Novacut.
Whether you're Google Drive's number one user or you need a cloud computing refresher on the basics, if you're considering any kind of cloud video editing software, you should know there are a number of pros and cons. Ultimately, whether or not cloud-based video editing software will be right for you depends on your business, resources, and what you plan on doing with the final product.
Goodbye power and professional features. Let's face it: desktop video editing software is good. While some cloud video editing software has features like animations, filters, transitions, effects, and color correction, real video pros will sorely miss the many high-level features available on their desktop software. This is due partially to a difference in target audience of sites like YouTube, which only needs to provide a basic editor for its casual audience, and because cloud-based video editors just don't have the same kind of power behind them. If you're looking to produce a professional video, the cloud might not be for you.
Caveat: Adobe Anywhere resolves many of these issues. However, this software's target market is largely big broadcasters, and the price tag shows it, so this isn't (yet) the solution for smaller businesses and lone marketers.
Speed…good Lord the speed. The con here is pretty simple: video files are huge, and even video production companies are only going to pay for so much bandwidth. Upload times and rendering for raw footage and other large files can be painfully slow, which often lags as well.
Plus, hogging all of that bandwidth can make the Internet run slowly for the entire office, and, as with all cloud-based services, if you crash the Internet while uploading, you can't very well continue to work on the video (or much of anything) while it's down.
Degraded quality (thanks, proxy files!). Fortunately, cloud-based video editing software accounts for many of these issues by using proxy files to increase responsiveness and accommodate varying Internet speeds. Unfortunately, while this is great for workflow, it's pretty bad for the overall quality of the file.
Storage and cost. Sure, for a big production company that's already running and maintaining a building full of servers, switching to cloud storage makes infinite economic sense. But for small users, both encoding and storage costs can be prohibitive, especially for storage services that charge by processing time (which, as mentioned previously, can be forever).
Quick route from production to sharing. By far one of the best things about working on any project in the cloud is the streamlined workflow. Once your files are uploaded, every tool you need is right there where you need it, without any need to pass it between programs. And, once your work is done, it's easy to share your finished video on social media. Sites like WeVideo integrate social media right into the program, and with YouTube's editor, well, you're right on YouTube…
Better collaboration. Collaboration with fellow video editors, marketers, clients, bosses, whoever, is also easier on the cloud. No more sending files back and forth between collaborators and trying to remember which one is the most recent (or agreed upon) version. Just share the file and there you go. Should you decide to hire a video production agency, this also makes it easy to collaborate with top talent from around the world.
Storage and cost. If you're like most people, you don't back up your hard drive nearly as often as you should. And, if you do so to an external hard drive, you're highly likely to lose or damage it. Cloud storage companies back up user data multiple times and in sophisticated ways. You're much more likely to lose your data or get hacked on your own. Plus, who can dislike a backup solution that requires zero effort on your part?
So, who is cloud-based video editing good for?
Big video producers with large volumes to produce and process.
Small-time amateurs and product/service promoters to whom producing a Spielberg-esque production doesn't matter nearly as much as getting it out there.
In this way, cloud-based video editing software may just be perfect for marketers. Why? Just look at YouTube and the kinds of videos that gain any kind of popularity. The majority aren't polished. Rather, they answer customer questions where previously there had been no answers at all; they cover a subject or offer content that is daring, unique, or funny; or they're cats.
Here's the thing: none of that requires fancy editing software. In fact, when promoting a product or service, more professional tools tend to tempt marketers into producing videos that aren't any different from traditional ads. This defeats the point of online video marketing, which should emphasize creativity and authenticity, bringing the viewer closer to the promoted business, not further away.
So if you're looking to produce videos that are instantly shareable and you'd like to share them quickly on your own, editing video in the cloud might be right for you. Just make sure to weigh out all of the options ahead of time, so that you know what you're really getting into. And if you don't take your video editing efforts to the cloud quite yet, don't fret; there's always a better piece of software around the corner.
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Adria Saracino is the head of outreach at Distilled, a creative online marketing agency. When not consulting on content strategy or leading her team of outreach warriors, you can find her writing about style on her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.