Adobe Rush vs. iMovie: which editing app should you choose?

Posted April 18, 2019
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More and more people these days are creating video using just their smartphones. Smartphones have amazing cameras that are comparable to many far more expensive video cameras. In addition to shooting video on smartphones, more people are choosing to edit their videos on smartphones as well. When it comes to the two main smartphone operating systems, Apple iOS on iPhones and Android on most others, there are a variety of different software options.

When it comes to Android one of the most popular editing apps is Kinemaster Pro. For iPhone, the most popular option has been Apple’s own iMovie app. Adobe has released a new video editing app for iPhone (and coming soon for Android devices) based on its desktop software Premiere Pro. The new app, Adobe Rush, is basically what iMovie is for Final Cut — a paired down version suitable for editing on a mobile device. The two have advantages and disadvantages and we’ll take a look at some of the best features of both and what some of the drawbacks are. 

Both apps use a fairly straight forward interface with a timeline area and a viewer window. With the limited screen space on most smartphones, there aren’t too many options for how to lay out an editing app. The same basic interface is used not only for these two apps, but also on pretty much every video editing app available. 

On the timeline itself, there are some differences. Much like Final Cut X and Premiere, the major difference is the set tracks. In iMovie there are no visible tracks shown — you simply have a single video line for your main clips with their audio attached but you can add connected clips above for b-roll and audio only clips below such as music, sound effects, and voiceover. In Rush, while the tracks are not shown by default there is a dedicated track system just like there is in Premiere Pro. Unlike Premiere, and more similar to iMovie, the main video tracks can include clips that have both audio and video. In Premiere when you add a video clip in a video track it adds its corresponding audio to an audio track below. 

In Rush, the video and audio are kept together and go onto the video track. In Rush, you can have up to 4 tracks of video and then three tracks dedicated to just audio be that music, sound effects, or voiceover. The advantage of the tracks in this app is it is easy to see where everything is and you can add more video and audio than you can in iMovie. The tracks also allow you to mute or solo any track so you can focus on a single aspect of the video that you are working on. Another advantage to this system is that because these clips are on their own tracks rather than just connected to the main storyline you can move them around and trim them to the exact moment you want much more easily than in iMovie. 

In Final Cut X, the lack of tracks is in many ways an advantage but that is because you can still add a lot above and below the main storyline. In the iMovie app for iPhone, you are very limited in what you can add and it can be difficult to fine tune your video the way you want it. 

Another major difference in the app is transitions. In iMovie, a fade transition is added by default to every clip, which if you have taken any of our editing or storytelling courses you will know we are not proponents of. Additionally, the transitions themselves appear on the timeline as individual boxes between the clips, no matter what transition you choose. Even if you choose to have no transition and rather use just a normal cut, there is still a grey transition box between the clips. Thus can make working with audio clips and fine tuning audio crossfades and other audio cues difficult because the time on the timeline does not match up with what is on the timeline because of the extra box in the middle of each clip. In Rush, the default is no transitions, and when you add a transition it does not indicate on the timeline that there is a transition there. This makes it much easier to line up and time everything with your connected video clips and audio tracks, but also can make it difficult to know just by looking at the timeline what transitions you do have in there when you select one. 

Another main difference is titling. In iMovie, you can select from nine preset options. In Rush, there are 37 options. Clearly, you get a lot more with Rush. Additionally, you have far more control in Rush with the parameters of the title than you do in iMovie. In iMovie, the only thing you can change (aside from the text itself) is the position of the title, and that comes down to three choices: centered, lower left corner and lower right corner. In Rush, you can move the title around the screen how ever you like, change its size, and rotate it. Additionally, you can change the font, color, and depending on the template a host of other options. Furthermore, in iMovie you can only put a title over a full video clip, while in Rush, titles are treated as clips on their own that you add to one of the video tracks and you can put them over a whole clip, part of a clip, or add them to the main video track and have just a title on the screen. 

Both apps have the advantage of being able to work between your smartphone, your tablet and you computer. In iMovie, you can easily send your project file to iMovie on your iPad or iMovie on your computer and continue working. If you want to do even more you can export the project from iMovie and continue working in Final Cut. The same is true with Rush. There is a version for Rush that you can download onto your iPad and a version that you can download onto your desktop computer. Additionally, you can send the project from Rush to Premiere to continue editing seamlessly. In many ways it depends on what editing environment you already work in as that will determine which one you will want to use on your smartphone. 

The main issue for Rush as compared to iMovie is it’s price. iMovie is a free app and you get all of the features included when you download it. Rush, on the other hand, is free to download but you are limited to only three total exports before you have to subscribe, and after that, it is $9.99 per month. While Rush is definitely the more comprehensive and powerful app for smartphones, you can pretty much do everything you would with it with iMovie for free — it just may be a little more tedious to do. As they say, you get what you pay for.