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The classic app: LumaFusion

When an app for making movies for the big screen ended up fitting in your pocket

Some apps are fleeting. Others are core parts of the iPhone’s history. In this entry in our series on classic apps, we dig into the history of a product that proved iPads and iPhones weren’t just for consumption – and could handle even the most demanding creative projects.

LumaFusion v1

The original LumaFusion, on iPad.

What was LumaFusion?

A video editor. But not the kind people were used to on a phone, where you’d load a movie, crop it, and then share it to social media. This was the full deal – a desktop-grade editor squeezed into Apple mobile devices.

Why was it a classic?

Ambition. This was a product that provided huge scope for crafting amazing videos, and didn’t limit you because you happened to be using an iPad or an iPhone. But LumaFusion didn’t forget that it was running on touchscreens, and was always fully optimized for them.

Where is it now?

The app continues to be worked on and has received several major updates since its debut. At the time of writing, it’s gearing up for version 5, due to be released in July 2024. This will introduce features such as Speed Ramping (precise control over playback speed within clips) and Enhanced Keyframing (for building dynamic animations), both designed to be intuitive for anyone yet powerful enough for pros.

Visit the Luma Touch website or get LumaFusion ($29.99/£29.99) from the App Store.

LumaFusion 4

LumaFusion 4, for iPad.

Q&A: a brief history of LumaFusion

We speak to Luma Touch co-founders Terri Morgan and Chris Demiris about the birth of their video app and how it broke the mold on mobile.

Why did you create a pro-grade video editor for Apple devices, and what did you feel iMovie lacked?

Luma Touch: iMovie was the pioneering video editing app for iPad, but missed the mark in terms of feature set and approach. Instead of focusing on the needs of creative video editors and starting from the user’s perspective, it prioritized highlighting the technical capabilities of the iPad. By contrast, our user-first approach put the creative process at the forefront, ensuring a powerful, intuitive experience for video editors – and is molded to this day by our passion for the industry and the needs of video storytellers.

What key features had to be there from the start?

We wanted to perfect the timeline model – the heart of the editing experience. Our small team brought with it a wealth of knowledge and had witnessed the full spectrum of editors: good, bad, and downright ugly! So with LumaFusion, we sought to find a sweet spot that balanced flexibility and user-friendliness. Our ‘Enhanced Magnetic timeline’ became an innovative model that works for people who want traditional track-based editing or those who prefer having clips magnetize around the main track.

LumaFusion for iPhone

LumaFusion has always had feature parity on iPhone.

What challenges did you face when creating a video editor for mobile touchscreen devices?

LumaFusion came out on iPad and iPhone with full feature parity – and from a design standpoint, the touch interface drove its own innovation. We had to rethink every operation to eliminate complexity and deep menus. Each function had to be understandable at a glance. The phone’s small size was a challenge, but we still made sure to have portrait and landscape layouts for all devices so users could quickly rotate them when using certain features.

How did changes to Apple hardware or software impact LumaFusion?

Enabling iOS apps to run seamlessly on Silicon Macs added whole new workflows for LumaFusion users. While the transition was smooth, we did encounter challenges. Features that relied heavily on multitouch, such as zooming the timeline, needed redesigning. Additionally, we incorporated desktop standards like menus to ensure that LumaFusion felt at home on the Mac.

LumaFusion special effects

Although the timeline took priority, LumaFusion always had great effects.

In what ways has the app evolved – and were any changes particularly important?

A pivotal addition was integrating the Storyblocks royalty-free music and video library. It addressed a historical stumbling block for editors: the scarcity of essential media assets. Imagine being engrossed in your edit, only to hit a roadblock because you lack the right music track or video clip. With the Storyblocks library, that frustration dissipates and you no longer lose momentum.

Another key addition was Multicam Studio, where we reimagined a traditionally complex process and made it fun and intuitive. We addressed challenging scenarios users encounter when dealing with media from multiple cameras, and our implementation was widely praised as the best around – whether comparing it to mobile or desktop apps.

What have been your highlights to date regarding LumaFusion?

As a completely independent company, we’ve faced our fair share of obstacles. Breaking into the top rankings on the App Store without big marketing campaigns or hefty investments required steady effort. But seeing LumaFusion consistently at the pinnacle, year after year, has been a dream come true – and when Apple named it iPad App of the Year, it felt like an out-of-body experience!