Be it on increasingly powerful dedicated camcorders or via a smartphone, capturing hours (and hours and hours ...) of video has never been easier or cheaper. That's both a blessing and a curse, as even though you're more likely to capture something worthwhile at some point, at the editing stage you'll also have to wade through more crap to get to the good stuff. This can be time consuming to say the least and many just don't bother, preferring to upload the whole kit and caboodle to their video-sharing site of choice. Now there's an iPhone app called Magisto that is designed to take care of the editing for you and increase the chances of someone actually sitting through the video of Aunt Maude's birthday dinner.

Originally hitting the Web last September as a Web-based application and integrated into YouTube on its Create page, Magisto is now available in the App Store for use on an iPhone. After recording video directly through the app or selecting already-recorded videos on the device, you upload your video(s) to the Magisto servers - which means you'll need an active Wi-Fi or mobile data connection. You're then prompted to name your clip and select a soundtrack - either from a variety of available genres or by uploading your own track.

After hitting Edit, Magisto's algorithms will analyze the raw footage - recognizing things like faces, landmarks, animals, camera movements and focus, and even the existing clip soundtrack - to pick out the best bits. It will also throw in some transitions, add the music - even dialing down the volume when someone is talking - and produce an edited video ready for sharing.

Magisto probably isn't going to work as well with movies that contain a narrative, so it's aimed more at producing a "best of" compilation video from rambling home videos of family get-togethers or holidays that might not otherwise see the light of day because no one can be bothered editing them. Automating the editing process for such videos will also appeal to users who, although they may have the means and motivation, find even the simplest video editing programs either too much to get their head around or too time consuming to use. Although Magisto will still take some time to turn around a video, at least that's time you can spend doing something else - like recording more video.

Users are limited to uploading a maximum of 600 MB or 16 video clips with support for most standard video formats including MOV, 3G2, 3GP, ASF, AVI, FLV, MOV, MP4, MPG, MOD, MTS and M2TS. Users can't specify the length of the resulting video - that's dependent on how many moments Magisto considers interesting the source material contains. At the moment, videos edited using Magisto will be hosted on Magisto's servers but can be exported to YouTube and shared on Facebook and Twitter. However, the company apparently also plans to let paying subscribers locally download their videos in the future. This future premium service should also allow users to specify the length of video they want.

The Magisto app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad and is available for free through the App Store. A search for "magisto" on YouTube will return a stack of videos edited using the application.