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VSCO Montage is an open-ended photo-video editor where there are no rules

VSCO has a new video editing tool — except Montage isn’t exactly a video editor, or a photo editor, or anything that fits neatly into a predefined box. Announced on Wednesday, March 4, Montage is an open-ended multimedia tool that allows creatives to mix photos and videos together inside VSCO, a popular photo and video editing app.

While the result is a video file, Montage is of a mashup of several different types of apps. The VSCO tool feels more like a love child between Photoshop, iMovie, and PowerPoint than a standard video editor. Creatives start with a blank canvas, instead of stitching videos together on a timeline, then layer in photos, videos, and shapes to different scenes. Canvases can be square, vertical, or horizontal.

Montage has the layers of a high-end photo editor, allowing users to layer photos and videos on top of each other. Using what VSCO describes as a freeform interface that favors gesture controls, those layers can be arranged in any number of ways, or layered on top of each other and blended with an opacity tool. Users can create a double exposure from a photo and a video instead of two photos, or build a collage of both photos and videos, for example.

Montage organizes projects in scenes. Each scene is a single canvas housing those photos and videos, and creatives can choose how long each scene lasts, as quick as 250 milliseconds. Scenes are where that PowerPoint feel comes in — each scene is like a slideshow slide of photos, videos, and shapes.

The open-ended design and focus on mixed media allows Montage to create any number of different projects, from photo slideshows outside the usual same-old templates, to mixed media art pieces. Montage could even be used as a more traditional video editor by adding new videos to each scene.

“We really want this to be a place for people to play and experiment,” said Maggie Carson Jurow, VSCO’s lead designer on the project. “We feel like it’s more of a play space than a traditional editor and we’re seeing that in how people use it, which is really exciting.”

Montage is accessible from VSCO studio, allowing the option to start from scratch or to preselect images and video already edited in VSCO. The interface uses free-form gestural controls, which VSCO says is designed to encourage creativity and ease of use.

A toolbar houses the different options for working with each media, eliminating any tools that are not compatible with the media type that’s selected in order to create a simpler interface. The tool will also have the option to duplicate content, as well as to duplicate scenes to build on the previous one.

Montage videos are exported as movie files. The exported files are not limited to a specific length, though videos shared to VSCO’s social platform are capped at two minutes.

VSCO said the idea came from seeing mixed media creations shared by their users. When the company reached out to creators, some said they had to use as many as five programs to create those mixed media pieces, including both desktop and mobile apps.

The open-ended format may create a few limitations, however. Clips need to be trimmed in VSCO before being brought into Montage, since there’s no option to adjust the starting point of the video. The team is also already planning more features to bring into Montage.

Montage is available on iOS and Android inside VSCO. Any user can try out the new tool, but a VSCO subscription, $20 annually, is required to download or share the final project.

Hillary K. Grigonis
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