Hands-On: Clipchamp for Windows 10/11

Posted on April 26, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Music + Videos, Windows 10, Windows 11 with 25 Comments

The Microsoft Store version of Clipchamp, which is now included in Windows 10 and 11, appears to be a packaged version of the web app. But the real question here is how this video editing app measures up against the more sophisticated free and paid alternatives.

But first, a bit of housekeeping.

When Microsoft first added Clipchamp to Windows, it was still subject to some limitations that made it untenable for most. Key among those limitations being that you could only output video in 480p (Standard Definition) for free; you could pay $9 per month for 720p exporting and an incredible $19 per month for 1080p exporting.

I have some good news and some bad news. After the obvious outcry from its customers, Microsoft removed the output caps and now allows free users—and customers of all its pricing tiers—to output in 1080p. This change alone makes Clipchamp minimally viable. But the bad news is that those pricing tiers still exist. Those who pay $9 now get unlimited cloud storage and unlimited stock audio access. For $19 per month, you get everything from the $9 tier plus a branding kit. And for $39 per month (woof!), you get all of the above plus unlimited image and video stock access.

I will be focusing on the free version. And to do so, I will try to emulate a video I created previously using Adobe Premiere Elements 2022, which is paid, and some free online tools like Shocut and Davinci Resolve.

The video consists of several core assets: the raw video that my wife and/or I shot with a smartphone while in Mexico City, an opaque title card for a now-imaginary YouTube channel called “Eternal Spring,” a transparent title card for this particular video, a YouTube subscribe/notification pop-up (that I got free from Pixabay), and some background music (which I got free from YouTube; it’s licensed for this usage). The transitions are all straight-up wipes. Pretty basic, in other words.

Because I’m using the free version of Clipchamp, all of those assets will need to be stored on my PC. I don’t see that as a huge limitation, since that’s how most people work anyway, regardless of which video editing product they use.

To get started, I ignored the templates and other quick-start guides and chose “Create a video,” which brings up Clipchamp’s timeline view, a feature Microsoft promotes pretty heavily despite it being a standard feature of all decent video editors. (The reason for this, I believe, is that the video editor built into the Windows Photos app only provides a storyboard view. But Windows Movie Maker—remember that?—provided both views back in the day.)

As prompted, I then dragged some media—in this case, four video files, onto the timeline. Curiously, they did not go onto the timeline but instead were imported into the Your media pane. So I dragged them from there to the timeline in the order I wanted. That was easy enough, and Clipchamp was smart enough to place each clip next to the one before it with no gaps as expected. Then,  imported my two title cards, the YouTube pop-up, and the background music.

Adding the opaque title card to the beginning of the timeline was a basic drag-and-drop operation. But I was curious how Clipchamp would handle the transparent video title, since I wanted that to appear over the beginning of the video. By default, the timeline doesn’t indicate that you can have multiple video tracks, but dragging the title above the existing video timeline actually worked. Nice!

To create a wipe transition between two clips in Adobe Premiere Elements, I open the Transitions pane, choose the Cross Dissolve transition, and drag it between two clips in the timeline (and repeat as necessary). Clipchamp offers a similar Transitions pane, and a little help pop-up indicates that adding transitions with this app works the same way. So I found the Cross fade transition and dragged it between each clip. A handy green “Add transition” button appears as you drag it over.

Next, I wanted to see how the YouTube pop-up worked: this little video uses a green screen effect, and you need to access the Green Screen Key effect in Premiere Elements to make it transparent. Here, again, I was happily surprised as Clipchamp works the same way. You drag the video clip above the video you want it to appear over in the timeline and position it. Then, select the Filters button at the top of the app, scroll down until you find Green screen, and then select that. The thumbnail of the video in the timeline doesn’t change—it still looks green—but when you preview that part of the video, you’ll see that it’s transparent now as desired. Impressive.

Next up, I added some fade effects as I like the transparent video title to fade in and out. So I selected that clip in the timeline, selected the Fade button at the top of the app, and then chose a half-second fade for both Fade in and Fade out.

Next up, I needed to remove the background audio that came with the videos. Normally, I’d prefer not to do that, but we weren’t really paying attention or making these videos for any particular reason, and so we talk over it in bits and there is some background noise. In Premiere Elements, you can separate the audio from a video clip and then delete it. But in Clipchamp, it’s even easier: just click the Volume icon in the middle of each clip to mute the audio for each. Nice.

Of course, that needs to be replaced with some music. So I dragged the music clip into the timeline, aligning it with the start of the first “real” (non-title) clip.

The music clip is longer than the video clips, so I next needed to split the music clip. This was easy, too: I just had to position the play-head at the end of the last video clip, right-click the music clip, and choose “Split.” Then, I could delete the extra clip and be done with it.

Of course, I want the end of the video to fade out too, so I added a one-second fade-out to the audio and a half-second fade-out to the final video clip.

And that, folks, is pretty much everything I needed to do to recreate the videos I’ve been making with much more sophisticated—and paid—video editing tools. I am surprised to report that this was all possible with Clipchamp, which, frankly, didn’t seem all that impressive to me. The only left to do was export it, which was also obvious enough. The wizard even includes options to save to Google Drive, YouTube, TikTok, OneDrive, and other services, but I prefer to do that myself.

Video export wasn’t particularly fast, and it appeared to occur in 1:1 time with the video. Tools like Premiere Elements do export more quickly, for whatever that’s worth.

But whatever. Overall, I’m impressed. And you can see the final result on YouTube, if you’re curious. Not bad for a free tool that Microsoft bundles with Windows.

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Comments (25)

25 responses to “Hands-On: Clipchamp for Windows 10/11”

  1. wunderbar

    This is defintitley a great tool, and something Microsoft desperately needed after the demise of Movie Maker.

    The one thing that Microsoft should do is include the paid version as part of a Microsoft 365 subscription, even if you limit is to the premium sku and not the standard sku. Make it a value add to Microsoft 365 and you might actually get more subscribers to that service.

  2. rob_segal

    I might compare this to iMovie. That would be a more equivalent comparison than Resolve or Final Cut Pro. I agree that it should be rolled into Microsoft 365. A good in-box, free, simple to use video editor is something Windows needs. All of Microsoft's in-box apps need to be improved. I wouldn't expect Clipchamp to be as good as iMovie, but if it can come close, that would be a win for Windows users.

    While on the topic, I'm not a fan of its name. I don't think Clipchamp is a good name for a video editor bundled with Windows. Movie Maker is a better name for an app like this.

    • dftf

      There is already an "app" in Windows 10 called "Video editor" right now (it opens the Photos app in the Video Editor interface). Assuming in 11 they will replace that mode with this app, they might as well just repurpose that name for it.

  3. gregorylbrannon

    I'm glad that Microsoft listened to the customers and made 1080 export free. I basically used Wondershare Filmora X which is close in UX terms to Final Cut X and iMovie. I've tried editing a video that I've done in Filmora X using Clipchamp and the results were satisfactory similar. My only concern with Clipchamp is rendering longer videos. I'm curious to see how long the rendering and exporting is since this is web based compared to Filmora which an installed application

  4. CasualAdventurer

    A few months ago I tried ClipChamp; once I saw the free tier was only 480p output I promptly uninstalled it. I'm glad they now let users output to HD for free, but it's too late for me. I found an old version of Sony Vegas I had laying around and installed it. I was pleasantly surprised it was upgradable (it was purchased by Magix Software who now keeps it updated). It's not free, but it's cheap and is light-years ahead of ClipChamp. Now if we could just convince Affinity to add a video editor to their already amazing list of publishing tools...

  5. sscywong

    Based on this review, Clipcham is looking good as a basic free movie editor.... Most importantly I can now export 720 video without needing to pay extra... Then at least I no longer need to rely on the iMovie on my 2010 MacBook Air to do some basic vide editing....

  6. the_penguin

    OK so I tried it, definitely seems easier.

    Almost no options in export, do you think the quality suffered compared to your other editors?


    And thanks for the review! I've been wondering about Clipchamp since hearing about it a few times on Windows Weekly.

  7. the_penguin

    For someone who isn't familiar with video editing, and just needs to do simple things like combine clips, would you suggest Shotcut, or Clipchamp?

    I'm using Shotcut now, but find it a bit unintuitive.

  8. rboxman

    As long as those pricing tiers are around, no one should be promoting or encouraging the use of this... thing. Teach them how to use better alternatives. It's ok for customers to have a growth mindset too. We'd all be better for it. That they released in such a poor state shows their true intentions, now and in the future.

    Or don't. I'm a shareholder and love making money off of dumb people of which there are plenty :)

  9. dftf

    Just thought I'd check the Microsoft Store to see if this is a Windows 11 exclusive and no... you can install this app on a Windows 10 device.

    However, two things to note: (1) you have to sign-up for the app, which you can do using a Microsoft Account you've signed into Windows itself with and (2) because it is a "web-app", it might not work if you use an ad-blocker within Edge. Once installed, go to the "..." near the window-controls, go to "More tools" then "Open in Microsoft Edge". If all you see is the logo animation, turn-off any ad-blocker, script-blocker and the "Enhance security" and "Tracking Prevention" features until you get the sign-up page. It should then work when launched from the Start Menu in future also (assuming you haven't set Edge to delete "site permissions" each time you close it!).

  10. dftf

    Presumably for those who enjoy this app, Microsoft will announce it will be retired in Windows 12 and then removed in Windows 14 entirely (assuming they will skip 13, as with Office)?

    Does it actually support all of the codecs that Windows itself doesn't, such as H.265? Or if you try importing or exporting that format, does it offer to open the Microsoft Store where you can buy it?

    And how does this compare to the older "Video editor" tool from Windows 10 (and I would guess is still present in Windows 11) -- essentially a mode within the Photos app similar to the old Movie Maker from XP?

  11. covarr

    I've seen a few people comparing it negatively to Resolve, which is also free, and is much more powerful, and, like, I get it, but I feel like such comparisons are largely missing the point. Clipchamp is much easier to use, which I think is far more important for something bundled into Windows like this than it is for high-end professional software.

    The previous subscription tiers were woefully overpriced and 480p output was unacceptable for the past decade, but with the new pricing structure I think this is really good for what it is.

  12. kcarson97404

    It's funny how all this functionality was part of Windows Movie Maker some 15 years ago. The more things change the more they stay the same. I don't understand how a company with the resources of Microsoft would acquire a company to get a product which replicates functionality they used to have with the now depreciated WMM. ?‍♂️

    • spiderman2

      What's really sad that this web app waste 500mb of ram just to show the start screen... native photos or movie maker are hundreds times faster and lighter

    • dftf

      Something similar to Windows Movie Maker does exist in Windows 10 today: look for "Video editor" in your Start Menu apps list. As it is just a mode in the stock Photos app, I'd assume it'll be on Windows 11 also.

      • Paul Thurrott

        Video editor (which is part of Photos) is in no way comparable to Movie Maker. This is much closer (and arguably better).

    • navarac

      ...and charge a subscription for it!

      • lvthunder

        The subscription is just for content. You know content creators like to feed their families as well. That stuff isn't cheap.

        • Paul Thurrott

          Um, it's owned by Microsoft, and we're already paying for Microsoft 365. It should all be free.

          Also, the paid tiers also include cloud storage ... which we get with Microsoft 365.

  13. jimchamplin

    It looks like a nice upgrade for anyone who may have still been hanging on to Windows Movie Maker.

    Still, I hope that as they move forward they integrate it with Microsoft 365, instead of keeping it separate, which is cheesy, but it’s still early days.

  14. bluvg

    Apparently it supports 3D cameras, which I think separates it from some of Microsoft's previous offerings.