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YouTube introduces video editor "your grandma could use"


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YouTube has begun rolling out a new video editor aimed at making it easier for users to piece together movies without desktop software. The editor is quite limited in its capabilities, but offers just enough functionality to be useful to a huge swath of YouTube users, the majority of whom don't have hardcore video editing rigs and a copy of Final Cut Pro lying around.

When you enter the video editor, you're presented with any clips that you have uploaded to your own account—sorry, you can't make movies out of other YouTube users' clips—as well as an empty timeline. Drag the clips into spots on the timeline in order to piece them together into a single movie, and drag them around to specify the order. You can watch a realtime update of your current progress by hitting the play button in the video player on the right:

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If you want to add audio, YouTube provides a plethora of tracks that you can sort by genre or artist. When you drag an audio clip into your timeline, it overrides the audio in any of the videos you are using. Unsurprisingly, the library doesn't have everything—in fact, despite having some 10,000 tracks, it's unlikely you'll be able to find music from your favorite artist. (Really, the main reason you would want to use something from this selection is if you absolutely need music in your video for some reason and/or you hate the audio track that's already in your video files.) YouTube's Josh Siegel told Ars that the music is pulled from deals prearranged with copyright holders and that there are dedicated teams who work on new content deals all the time. What does that mean for you? The song selection will continue to grow over time. And, of course, there's something in it for YouTube: if you use one of the supplied songs from the audio library, YouTube reserves the right to display ads in your video.

Finally, the new editor also lets you edit your videos so that only choice clips are included in your final product. When you hover over a video in your timeline, a scissor icon comes up—clicking it brings up the editing interface that lets you drag sliders to shorten the video to just the part you want. If you want to include several different clips from the same video, you'll have to drag the video to your timeline again and edit that one down as well.

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And that's about it. Like we said: functionality is limited, but it's just enough to offer something for YouTube users who want to edit their videos. "Our users want some basic capabilities to edit and manipulate things now that their videos are in the cloud, and we wanted to make something so simple and straightforward that your grandma could use it," Siegel said.

That's not to say more functionality won't come in the future, though. "Our goal was to build a basic editor, get it out there, and let people use it. Then we'll gather data and figure out what users really want," lead engineer Rushabh Doshi told Ars. "As you can imagine, there's a whole laundry list of features that we've thought about and considered doing, including standard software features like transitions and titles. Because it's based on the cloud, it'll be a reliable experience and will update in realtime."

The company expects its most-engaged users to make use of the video first, with the rest of the community to follow. Siegel and Doshi said that, despite an early leak this morning, the feature should be publicly available in YouTube's TestTube for most users later tonight or Thursday morning.

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