Software

Kapwing's browser-based video editing tools could be a great fit for startups, SMBs

These task-oriented tools let you quickly resize, trim, loop, reverse, mute, and subtitle video from any browser.

Kapwing offers video editing tools you can use from any web browser. Each tool handles a focused task. Need to resize, reverse, loop, or trim a video? Kapwing it. Remove sound—or add sound effects to a video? Kapwing it. Want to add captions, text, or music to a video? Kapwing it.

Unlike most video tools, there's no app to install. And there's no complicated, multi-track, non-linear editor to learn. The company delivers a set of 15 feature-focused tools at Kapwing.com (as of late July 2018).

Screenshot of Kapwing website, with menu of tools shown in upper right

Kapwing offers a variety of video editing tools you can use from any web browser.

Image: Kapwing

The team behind Kapwing, Julia Enthoven and Eric Lu, built the tool to support the needs of contemporary video creators.

"People used to watch 20-30 minute long, highly-produced videos," Enthoven said. Those videos were often made with sophisticated, all-in-one desktop video editing apps. But today, Enthoven said,"we share 20-30 second long clips." As such, this new paradigm deserves new tools, Enthoven added.

Kapwing flips the standard video-editing sequence: It's task-first, not app-first. In a traditional video editor, you open the app, insert video, then choose a tool. With Kapwing, you select the tool first, then upload (or paste a link to) your video, adjust settings, choose "Create!," then download your finished video.

"We focus on unbundling tasks—efficiently solving the problem for a person who just needs to complete a specific task, such as 'add subtitles' or 'resize' a video," Enthoven said.

In traditional video editors, adding subtitles can be a complex process. But Kapwing shows you your video looped with each subtitle, displayed with the text and timing for each segment. Drop-down menus allow you to change font, font size, color, alignment, and text background options. Adding subtitles becomes a simple process with Kapwing. (And it could get even simpler. Enthoven indicated the team may add voice recognition capabilities to Kapwing.)

Screenshot of Kapwing, preview video (upper left) and a few lines of subtitles, with timing indicators below each (to the right)

In the Kapwing subtitling tool, a preview plays as you add text at various timings.

Image: Kapwing

One side result of the service's simplicity, according to Enthoven, has been the use of Kapwing in education. "Students and teachers make a lot of video," said Enthoven, "and education is a super-important vertical for us." In early 2018, Kapwing reached out to educators, and since then, they've "been talking to teachers, who presented at some educational technology conferences."

Since the company began in 2017, more than 300,000 people have used the service, and more than 3,000 have paid for Kapwing. While no registration is required, the company does apply a small "Kapwing.com" watermark to all videos. People may register and pay to remove this branding. (A one-time payment of $6 removes the branding from a single video, while a monthly $20 subscription removes the watermark from all videos the subscriber creates with the service.)

In July 2018, Kapwing announced they'd raised an initial seed round investment of $1.7 million. Enthoven said this will allow the company to "reduce the need to worry about operational expenses (such as rent), increase focus on product development by hiring 3 engineers, and actively pursue growth strategies." This last initiative includes strategies to connect Kapwing with video creators, such as DJs or comedians, who edit and share content on social platforms.

Near term, the funding also will help the team improve both storage and sharing. Improved storage for example, "could allow people to complete multiple tasks, or chain features together, without the need to repeat the upload/download cycle," said Enthoven. And streamlined sharing may reduce the number of steps needed for creators to distribute video created with Kapwing to social media services, such as IGTV, Twitter, and others.

Longer term, an all-in-one video editor for teams is also a possibility. However, Enthoven does not foresee Kapwing becoming an API. Instead, Enthoven said, the team will remain focused on delivering an easy-to-use service that attempts to "emulate on the front end what's possible on the back end."

As the world moves toward the video-first era, we'll need fast, focused, easy-to-use, browser-based video editors. People who want to edit video in a browser—and people who use Chromebooks, in particular—might want to keep an eye on Kapwing.

Also see

Illustration of Kapwing browser screen, with options along left, editing a video in the right-side of a browser window
Illustration: Andy Wolber / TechRepublic

About Andy Wolber

Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

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