Common Sense Review
Updated May 2013

Magisto - Magical Video Editor

Automated video maker is fast and fun but has limits
Common Sense Rating 2
  • Main page has easy instructions and examples of Magisto-created videos. Competitions are found under the ribbon, notifications under the number one, and settings under the three squares.
  • After shooting film or choosing pre-existing clips, teens select at least 25 seconds of footage to create their movie.
  • The next step is for teens select themes and popular music for overlay.
  • A summary page tells teens what they've chosen with clear instructions to proceed.
  • From the My Movies page, teens can select their videos to get info, share, tag people for sharing, or delete.
It's engaging, well-designed, and offers automated video production.
Inability to control edits, limited production length, and pricey subscriptions might turn off both beginners and serious filmmakers.
Bottom Line
Magisto makes video creation fun and quick, but automated editing hinders control for aspiring filmmakers.
Leslie Crenna
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 2
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Advanced and engaging design pulls kids in, but the inability to access mp4 files without a pricey subscription and confusing features and packages could be a turn off.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 2

Kids can create movies fast, but the app doesn't offer any video-editing skill-building opportunities.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 2

Educational resources aren't really offered to help kids relate what they're doing to key concepts. Movies could, in theory, help them learn to take better photos, but they won't get any instruction.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Magisto would probably work best as a take-home activity or a group work assignment to enhance an already structured project. For students with no video editing experience, Magisto will demonstrate elements like audio, graphic overlays, transitions, and editing, but a thoughtful teacher will need to discuss and name these elements with direct instruction. Older special-needs students could use Magisto to experience video-editing success. An interesting project for students who are experienced or learning about video editing with another tool would be to use Magisto as a quick first run or to compare automatic editing to student editing using the same raw footage.

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What's It Like?

Advancing through Magisto's wizard-like process, students can create entertaining mp4 videos in a few easy steps: Shoot real-time or pull raw footage from the device gallery; select front or back camera; then choose decorative themes, a little popular music for the audio overlay, and a final product duration. Magisto's built-in video editor selects the best clips and puts it all together in a matter of minutes -- depending on the amount of raw footage -- with very cool results.

Teens will be pulled in by Magisto's advanced design and pretty good ease of use, not to mention the popular tunes by Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, and more. They'll get a basic idea about overlay graphics (floating hearts, silent film style), editing, transitions, and the difference between raw footage and final production. Mostly clear instructions lead students along with callouts to explain stuff, like waiting for results.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Students can use Magisto to create multimedia presentations but will generally need to use the "clean" theme and select "no audio" for this purpose. If students need control over cuts and splices or want a final product more than 2:30 minutes long, however, teachers will need to find them a different tool.

Kids younger than 13 are not allowed to register with their own Magisto account, which is required to download and save mp4 files for play on other devices. Sharing via tags, YouTube and Twitter posts, and email with links is super easy, so teachers may want to have students use their own device or one without associated email and social media accounts.

Monthly and yearly subscription packages are a bit pricey, and exactly what you get for the money is not presented clearly or consistently. Confusing and lengthy in-app FAQs (avoid these) and differences between the iOS, Web, and Android versions are compounded by instructions to download additional apps which do not actually exist on the app store. Downloading mp4s is easy but also easy to miss: On the My Movies page, select anywhere outside the arrow icon (play) in the middle of the movie panel to bring up a particular movie's page with the Save to Gallery button (select this to download your mp4).

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