Make Cool Videos Without Breaking the Bank

Dr. Mac's Rants and Raves Episode 448

I love shooting videos with my iPhone. And, although I could edit video on my phone with iMovie for free, I often use one or more third-party apps to enhance my videos in ways iMovie cannot. I mostly rely on two iPhone/iPad apps—Action Movie FX (free) and LumaFX ($1.99) — to create jaw-dropping videos entirely on my iPhone.

Action Movie FX

When it comes to having fun with the video I shoot, Action Movie FX from Bad Robot Interactive is my favorite thing and has been since its introduction nearly a decade ago. It offers Hollywood-style special effects — explosions, aliens, natural disasters, spaceships, and more—to video shot with your iDevice.

You start by selecting a scene — Alien Burst, for example — and the app displays a camera interface with a target indicating precisely where the effect will appear. In Alien Burst that effect is a terrifying creature that tears its way out of whatever (or whomever) you target before it leaps forward and smashes the lens.


The video and audio effects, created by Industrial, Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, make every scene look and sound more theatrical than you expect.

While it includes eight free big-screen effects such as Bombing Run, Spider Strike, Car Smash, Demolition Rock, and Star Wars’ BB-8 Spark, the optional $1.99 FX Packs are even more fun. I’ve sprung for the Mega FX Pack (20 effects for $1.99) and most of the others—sci-fi, disaster movie, nukes, Star Trek, and Star Wars packs—for $0.99 to $1.99 each.

For well under $20, I’ve had more fun with Action Movie FX than perhaps any other app on my iPhone. Try it for free—you have nothing to lose.

LumaFusion ($29.99)

While Action Movie FX is superb at creating short scenes with Hollywood-style special effects, it’s a one-trick pony and that’s it’s trick. To actually edit, add transitions, color correct, or do any one of the million things I do to make my clips look better, I turn to LumaFusion ($29.99) and use it to add customizable effects layers like blurs, pixel effects, distortions, color corrections, and more. It’s fast and fluid even with multiple video and audio effects layers in a project. And, it handles up to 4K resolution without breaking a sweat on my iPhone 12 Pro Max.

With myriad presets, styles, and effects, I get excellent, professional-looking results in record time. And, with keyframe support for most of its effects and parameters, it’s surprisingly easy to animate audio and/or video effects.

One last thing: If $29.99 strikes you as expensive for an iOS/iPad OS app, consider that LumaFusion does almost as much (if not more than) Final Cut Pro ($199) and does it on your iDevice. (For what it’s worth, you can’t buy an iOS/iPadOS version of Final Cut Pro at any price—it doesn’t exist.)

There is One More Thing…

I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention my favorite video camera, FiLMiC Pro ($14.99), which offers superior manual controls and feedback, plus myriad monitors and adjustments you won’t find in the Camera app.

3 thoughts on “Make Cool Videos Without Breaking the Bank

  • Thanks. What is the best application to easily and intuitively edit videos? For instance, to remove frames or parts of videos or clips downloaded from Internet.

    I mean, a replacement for the good old QuickTime Player 7.7 (not the new QuickTime Player 10.5, which does not have such features)

    That is great for teaching purposes at the University.

    1. I use the Finder’s Trim feature for quickly editing start and end points! For anything that requires more than that, I turn to Final Cut Pro (Mac) or LumaFusion (iPad). If I didn’t own and know how to use FCP and LF, I’d probably use iMovie cause it’s free and can handle most editing needs. I hope that helps.

      1. Thanks. I have found “Movavi Video Editor Plus 2022” after testing many applications for Mac, and it seems the best option for what I was looking for (intuitive and powerful).

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