As one of the best mobile video editors, LumaFusion is now widely available on Android and ChromeOS thanks to any early access stage. We’ve taken a hands-on to see how it holds up after bridging the iOS-Android/ChromeOS gap.
One major piece of advice we have to share before we get too deep: make sure you buy LumaFusion from the Google Play Store. First, it allows access to ChromeOS along with your Android phone. An added bonus is that doing so also prevents any locking of Galaxy Store devices.
Since the purchase is registered to your Google account, this means that you will be able to access LumaFusion on Android and ChromeOS devices without the need for a Samsung Galaxy phone, tablet or Chromebook when the full version is released sometime later.
LumaFusion on Android and ChromeOS: Why is this a big deal?
LumaFusion is the closest experience to the hugely popular Final Cut Pro that many Mac owners swear by. It has been on iOS and iPad since 2016 and is often at the top of the App Store charts. It is truly an impressive mobile video editing suite that deserves all the praise it has received since its launch.
On Android, we have a lot of editing apps, but in almost all cases these are mini versions of many desktop equivalents. Adobe Premiere Rush is a prime example. Designed only for minor tweaks, you can make great videos, but the toolset is simplified and the main functionality is completely lost. It also requires a subscription of $9.99 per month. However, it is free as part of a Creative Cloud subscription and has cloud syncing.
Being mostly browser-based, Chrome OS was limited to mobile-first editing apps thanks to the ability to run Android apps. Most of them are not optimized, pose performance issues, and in some cases, are locked in portrait orientation. This is not ideal when you want to adjust to a 16:9 screen.
LumaFusion offers a tested and tuned cross-platform solution for both Android and ChromeOS. This is great news if you are hoping to try it out for yourself and at the same time make it easy to learn or use because the experience is practically identical.
Far from the basic editor, you can completely modify your footage using a built-in or even a custom terminal (lookup tables) to create a unique style for your edits. I don’t think the audio editing function is particularly in-depth, but the keyframes and tuning are impressive. Support for Crome Key even brings you rudimentary green screen features, something that very few mobile editors can boast of.
Storyblocks integration makes it easy and affordable to access a deep library of video clips, animated backgrounds, SFX, and even backing music. You do not have to pay to access the service. A small set of freebies is included with services like Pexels, Unsplash, Chillhop, and more that offer free alternatives, and you don’t need to pay for a subscription. It’s a great option that integrates directly if you feel the need to add some royalty-free content.
The ability to import media directly from Google Drive and OneDrive means that as long as you have a good internet connection, you don’t need to use external drives or even SD cards to add content to your timeline. I can expect this to be especially useful in scenarios where you need footage from another device but don’t have a cable to transfer them effectively.
How is the performance?
Creating proxy files on ChromeOS is useful when working with larger files, but I’ve found that with some sample 1080p and 4K UHD video, the Intel i3 HP Chromebase handled things really well. There was stuttering and slowdowns here and there, but nothing that really spoiled the experience. Compared to my custom-made editing workstation, these were a bit more straightforward but didn’t break the game.
The interesting thing about this form factor is that you can set the screen orientation to portrait or landscape mode. This means that if you prefer the standard mobile layout, you can quickly switch between it to suit your preference.
Mouse usage was fine. I found the touchscreen’s built-in controls and precise mouse pointer selection capabilities to be a nice combination. Being able to click and edit while scrolling and filtering is something I really like to see in Adobe packages. However, some tuning is definitely needed for mouse and keyboard users. Nowadays, it is acceptable but not ideal. It’s hard to suggest to those with non-touch Chromebooks.
On Android, it’s great and you can tell that LumaFusion was initially developed for mobile and then ported to the tablet form factor. Each control surrounding the main timeline view is designed to stay out of sight and not get in the way of creating/crafting a video. As someone who definitely prefers editing on a laptop or desktop, I’m blown away by what you can achieve when you use a mobile app like this.
Scanning timeline footage in 4K and 1080p is incredibly nice on the Pixel 7 Pro and Galaxy S22 Ultra. I did notice a few dropped frames here and there, but I didn’t find this distracting or disappointing given that the software is running on a mobile chipset after all. LumaFusion is still in Early Access and I have to admit that it works a lot better than I expected.
Phones with access to a stylus like the Galaxy S22 Ultra allow you to be truly precise with the capabilities of the touchscreen. While I haven’t tested this software on the Galaxy Z Fold lineup, it will be at home there too. Cropping videos to size is more accurate. With a Pixel tablet out sometime in 2023 with stylus support, it’d be a perfect combo there too.
Speaking of showtimes, things get a little interesting. On a modest ChromeOS device with an i3 processor, a timeline with few transitions, no color effects, and a maximum length of three minutes, it took about a minute to render at 1080p.
The Pixel 7 Pro offered similar solid times for video renderings. A roughly three-minute timeline made up of all the same clips was made within one minute. What was interesting was that in both cases, 4K rendering only added a few seconds to the total display time.
Of course, as you start adding multiple effects, backing tracks, titles, and transformational edits to your clips, the showtimes start to increase exponentially. When trying to make similar tweaks with LumaFusion on iOS, it offers faster times but not significantly. The improvement that has been made to ensure that the Android and ChromeOS versions of the app are within walking distance of Apple platforms is very commendable.
What’s interesting is that when presented with the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Pixel 7 Pro side by side in 4K resolution, the latter blew the Apple flagship away. This only applies to resolutions higher than 1080p. The iPhone and iPad we tested smoked the Pixel 7 Pro and Galaxy S22 Ultra at a lower resolution when rendering. It’s not clear why this is, but it’s a win no doubt Android owners will be delighted with.
One of the disappointing things we felt was the apparent lack of support for the .MOV video format or the inability to import directly from a file on the phone or PC. It simply doesn’t seem to work on ChromeOS or Android when imported from local storage. I’ve also found that HDR and selected high-frame video can also cause problems. However, when linked to my Google Drive account, 120fps were imported in MP4 and even .MOV format and could be added to a timeline without a problem.
For this reason, we caution that you may want to check or test footage recorded at a higher resolution for compatibility first before expecting things to just work. This is an inconvenience for serious videographers as you may need to convert video files before they are usable in LumaFusion. This will be a real hurdle for many and is important to note.
LumaFusion for Android is a great addition. Where it becomes a truly valuable tool is over on ChromeOS. ChromeOS users know that the platform has been lacking in a powerful video editing suite since its launch, and LumaFusion offers that without a monthly fee or missing features. Although it is a mobile app, it works as a desktop editing package rather than being part of a shoebox in a portable form. You don’t need lumps of grunt under the hood for it to work well, and essential projects are now within easy reach of ChromeOS users.
For those who want a full-featured Android editing suite, it’s similarly impressive and outperforms Adobe Rush and many other editing packages. The value in a one-time payment with the guarantee of future updates is also something that elevates LumaFusion above many subscription-based alternatives.
Moreover, managing files on iPad and iOS is outrageous. Both Android and ChromeOS handle this with confidence. When you’re on a project, you can find video, image, and audio content faster, and managing files is less of a hassle.
Professional editors will not move to LumaFusion full time, and this has always been the case. I’d be incredibly surprised if someone ditched a Windows or macOS device in favor of ChromeOS now that LumaFusion is available.
However, for first time video editors or even quick edits on the go LumaFusion is an excellent option/alternative. While it’s still technically in early access or beta on Android and ChromeOS, it’s already shown me to be the best option for video editing. Hopefully, with more tuning and tweaking before a stable launch, we’ll see greater parity between the experience on iOS and Google platforms.
Accessibility is often an obstacle for people who get into video editing. When smartphone cameras are improving at such an accelerated rate, the ability to edit an entire video on your phone with desktop-level controls is a great tool to come up with. I can expect more people creating content online with a lower entry barrier.
At $19.99, LumaFusion isn’t a cheap app for Android or ChromeOS. It’s a premium package but thankfully doesn’t feel overpriced. In fact, it offers a great value if you want a multi-device editing suite that’s easy to pick up and use.
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