LumaFusion is a true Final Cut Pro alternative for iPad

For the previous 5 years, the video-editing app LumaFusion has been a poster baby for iPad productiveness.

Whereas the iPad has all the time been usable for extra than simply content material consumption, video modifying is precisely the sort of inventive job that Apple likes to champion. LumaFusion, which was created by former product builders from Avid and Pinnacle, two of the longest-established names in video modifying, reveals that the iPad can rival a laptop computer or desktop laptop in dealing with complicated modifying jobs.

It wasn’t a big shock, then, when Apple named LumaFusion its iPad App of the 12 months in early December. LumaTouch, the 18-person improvement crew behind LumaFusion, says that the app’s utilization has soared throughout the pandemic—it now has 930,000 customers. And it delivered a meaty replace this 12 months with help for exterior exhausting drives and a extra customizable interface. Whereas Apple’s personal iMovie app could be adequate for primary video modifying, LumaFusion is a professional-grade instrument, supporting extra video and audio tracks, complicated transitions, and track-based modifying much like Adobe Premiere.

Amid rumors that Apple might finally deliver its personal Final Cut Pro software program to the iPad, LumaTouch can’t assume that its spot atop the iPad video modifying heap will probably be safe ceaselessly. However a minimum of for now, cofounders Terri Morgan and Chris Demiris say they’re residing the dream by creating the product they’ve lengthy envisioned.


Borne from acquisitions and layoffs

LumaFusion would possibly by no means have existed if Avid hadn’t dipped its toes into the cellular app enterprise a decade in the past.

Terri Morgan [Photo: courtesy of LumaTouch]Morgan had been main product designer for Avid Studio, the patron model of Avid’s venerable modifying suite, whereas Demiris was working at Avid as a senior software program engineer. Because the iPad was gaining traction, Morgan obtained an project to create a pill model of the video editor. Morgan and Demiris joined an eight-person crew, and launched Avid Studio for iPad in February 2012.

Avid was by no means fairly certain what to do with the ensuing product. Demiris believes it might have been a companion to Avid’s pro-editing options, permitting filmmakers to experiment with light-weight edits on the fly, however Avid didn’t see it that manner.

“It frankly scared Avid, as a result of right here we had this $30 product, and so they couldn’t determine how it could match into their complete ecosystem of [expensive video editing] programs,” he says.

Venerable software program firm Corel acquired Avid’s consumer video business in 2012. It turned out to be equally unenthusiastic in regards to the iPad app, says Morgan. She remembers an government describing the iPad model as “an iceberg, and so they have been going to let it soften,” which she shortly realized was a precursor to being laid off.

“Corel is a firm that buys expertise firms and continues their merchandise, however with as little improvement price as attainable,” Morgan says. (Requested about this criticism, a Corel spokesperson says that the corporate has modified a lot since 2012 and that it’s pursuing a new technique beneath CEO Christa Quarles, who joined the agency in September 2020.)


Nonetheless, Morgan and Demiris, who had left the corporate shortly earlier than the layoffs, beloved engaged on the iPad app, which Corel had renamed Pinnacle Studio. They satisfied Corel to keep up it with them as contractors, and within the meantime, they began planning a new app of their very own.

[Image: courtesy of LumaTouch]“If we hadn’t provided to help and proceed to develop what was Pinnacle Studio for iPad, we wouldn’t have had the funds to create LumaFusion,” Morgan says.

LumaFusion—the identify is a reference to gentle and the fusing of a number of video layers—was lastly prepared in mid-2016. Morgan says she and Demiris provided Corel a possibility to buy the brand new app and hold them on board as builders, however the firm wasn’t , in order that they stopped engaged on Pinnacle Studio and launched their new app that December. (Pinnacle Studio remains available in the App Store, however it hasn’t seen an replace since 2016 and now has a mean score of two.7 stars.)

The preliminary launch interval was powerful. Apple was nonetheless making an attempt to determine the iPad as extra than simply a content material consumption system—the primary Pro fashions had solely launched a 12 months earlier—and LumaFusion had arrived with little fanfare. However Morgan credit a June 2017 article by 9to5Mac’s Jeff Benjamin as a breakthrough. The piece heaped reward on LumaFusion for succeeding the place different iPad video editors had failed, and for displaying what the iPad was able to engaging in.

“For the reason that six months after we launched it, it’s been upward trajectory,” Morgan says.

No subscriptions essential

Regardless of its success to date, LumaTouch hasn’t been tempted to vary its enterprise mannequin. The corporate prices $30 for LumaFusion—it raised the worth from $20 for new prospects after a major update in 2019—which is on the expensive facet for an iPad app, however is less expensive than desktop video editors. (Final Cut Pro prices $300, and Adobe Premiere Pro prices $240 per 12 months.)

The up-front value is the principle manner that LumaTouch monetizes the app, although it additionally provides in-app purchases for integration and Final Cut Pro file exports, which it considers area of interest options. Its sole subscription function is an optional library of stock footage.

Morgan says LumaTouch hasn’t been tempted to undertake a subscription mannequin for the core app, at the same time as different productiveness app makers have embraced them as a approach to each attract new customers and fund future app improvement on a regular foundation. She believes that even with up-front pricing, LumaTouch will be a sustainable enterprise nicely into the long run.

“It’s an moral manner of promoting, I imagine,” she explains. “We make one thing, we adore it, we put a value on it, and you then purchase it, and you’ll adore it. That’s the entire contract proper there.”

[Image: courtesy of LumaTouch]LumaFusion’s embrace of the one-time buy comes despite Apple’s efforts to push extra builders towards subscription pricing. The corporate repeatedly highlights the benefits of subscriptions to builders, and Enterprise Insider has reported on a assembly Apple held in 2017 with unbiased app makers, encouraging them to promote subscriptions. Demiris says the subject does come up when speaking to Apple’s App Retailer representatives.

However Morgan believes a subscription mannequin can put undue strain on builders to launch new options on a common foundation, even when they’re pointless or unhelpful. She additionally believes a one-time buy makes extra sense for client video modifying, which isn’t a fixed want for all customers.


“When you solely edit, say, twice a 12 months, and it’s important to pay a month-to-month subscription for that modifying product, it’s simply going to result in you feeling responsible about having spent cash [for something you] didn’t use,” she says.

The Final Cut menace

Regardless of its success, LumaTouch has been bracing itself for direct competitors from Apple. In April 2020, Jon Prosser of FrontPageTech wrote on Twitter that he was “100% assured” that Apple would launch iPad variations of Final Cut Pro, the audio editor Logic Pro, and the app improvement instrument Xcode. One other rumor final April from LeaksApplePro claimed that Apple would announce all three at its WWDC occasion.

None of these experiences have panned out, however Demiris says he’d be stunned if Apple wasn’t engaged on one thing extra superior than its present iPad iMovie software program, which is much less succesful than its Mac counterpart.

Nonetheless, he believes LumaFusion will all the time have differentiators. As an example, lets customers select between both a Final Cut-style magnetic timeline or track-based modifying akin to Premiere Pro. It additionally integrates with storage options from Gnarbox and WD, and it not too long ago launched a tie-in with Dropbox’s Replay function for collaborative modifying. Apple is unlikely to supply such a number of choices: “That’s all the time been an Apple factor: When you do it Apple’s manner, it really works very well, however if you wish to do one thing a little totally different, it doesn’t,” says Demiris. (An Android model of LumaFusion is additionally in early improvement.)

LumaTouch has additionally withstood competitors earlier than. The corporate was initially involved, Demiris says, when Adobe launched a cellular model of its Premiere software for the iPad in 2018. However that turned out to be a way more restricted app than the desktop model of Premiere Pro and has solely led to larger curiosity in LumaFusion.

[Image: courtesy of LumaTouch]No matter what occurs with Apple, Morgan says LumaTouch’s mission is already achieved. The dream for video modifying, she says, has all the time been to let anybody make edits at any level within the inventive course of. A shopper, for occasion, might counsel some easy modifications in LumaFusion and ship them again to a skilled for additional modifying, or an editor can sew collectively footage instantly after capturing to see if it wants one other take. Morgan says the light-weight nature of the iPad is now permitting that to occur.

“LumaFusion steps again into the method, and permits folks to deliver modifying nearer to the story,” she says. “It’s simply an age-old want, and I lastly really feel like you may actually truly do this.”