Making classroom videos with your iPhone or iPad? Ditch iMovie and go with Clips!

Planning, recording and editing a video is a powerful and creative way to apply concepts for both students and teachers.  As a teacher, producing my own video content provides another resource to support student learning.  Posting these videos on YouTube allows students to access them quickly and easily when they are away from the classroom.  However making these videos requires a lot of time – even if it is a short 5 minute video.

Using my iPhone or iPad is the most convenient recording device as it is always the camera that I have with me both in and out of the classroom.  For the longest time I edited video directly on these devices using iMovie and it proved to be a suitable video editor for my needs.  That is until I stumbled upon Apple’s Clips application.

What is Clips?


Clips is an app released by Apple that is designed for the production of short videos and sharing them through your favourite social media platforms.  The recording and creation of these videos is done “on the fly” but it also allows you to pull in videos and pictures from your camera roll.  Clips allows for the insertion of different stickers and text to help decorate your finished video project.

Why I prefer Clips over iMovie

Now do not get me wrong, iMovie is a great video editor but when it comes to the short instructional videos that I want to create (and for my students to create as well), Clips is a much better fit.

Less planning required

Videos are recorded directly into your project but you can also bring in videos and pictures that are in your camera roll.

When using the Clips app you are recording video directly into your project by pressing and holding the record button. Releasing the record button results in the automatic insertion of the clip into your project.  The same is done for any media that you are looking to insert from your camera roll.

I find that this method of video creation encourages me to speak naturally where I can generate dialogue as I go.  I do not have to worry about generating a rough script before recording video as I can simply build upon the previously recorded video clip.  Any recording that I do not like I can immediately delete and record another one.  Repeat the process until I get the shot that I want and move on to the next shot.  It is a simple and fast way of recording on the spot.

Encourages jump cuts and shorter takes 

Once I got the hang of working with Clips, my videos are produced quickly. Clips has become my “go to” video creation app.

Ultimately this type of “on the fly” recording generates a series of shorter length video clips that create a more visually engaging style and pace when they are viewed together.  You see this type of editing style in television and social media.  When using Clips this is often the pacing and style that you naturally achieve because you are already recording shorter takes.  I am notorious for recording long, rambling videos of myself speaking to the camera.  Clips really helped in eliminating those long takes from my videos.

Stickers and text overlays work well

Lots of different text and picture overlays to use in your projects. Be sure to check out the ability to add in Live Titles where dialogue is also displayed as text on your video clip.

Even though iMovie allows for the insertion of text and images, it often results in a more formal look that we are used to seeing in movies and television.  With Clips leaning towards social media, I find that the graphics and text overlays are easier to tweak and position on top of your video.  One of the most powerful tools is called Live Titles.  It is the real-time addition of text on top of your video as you record the video.  Again this results in a cool visual effect that we see in social media and it makes for a great look when creating educational content.

But… there are some things to consider when using the Clips app.

It does not work like iMovie

If you are used to editing video with iMovie (or any other video editor for that matter) Clips is a completely different approach to video editing.  It did take some time for me to get used to navigating the app but the benefits of using Clips far outweighs the initial struggle of using this app.

Videos are in portrait

I admit it – I still believe that video should be recorded in landscape and not in portrait.  However this seems more like a losing battle as social media is again reshaping what we watch and how watch it.  

The videos produced in Clips will be in a square frame instead of the more conventional letterbox (widescreen) format.  I know… I just have to deal with it.  And as you would expect not one student has ever complained about this change in frame format.

Top up your battery

I have found that Clips really uses up my battery so be warned.  Go in with a full charge and have a charger and cable ready if your battery starts to get low.  

Final thoughts…

Clips is a free application for iOS users.  This app provides a way for me to quickly create short videos that are more visually engaging and entertaining than videos that I have produced through iMovie.  For students, it is yet another way for them to create content and focus on what they want show and demonstrate.  Clips is a fantastic tool and I would definitely recommend it for any classroom.

  • K. Takahashi

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