One of the easiest ways to start with video is to take your current blog posts and turn them into easily shareable social media content. Luckily in 2019, there are loads of great online video creators you can use (some for free) which will make it simple for you to do it. You see these types of videos a lot from Buzzfeed and The Verge, often with very high viewership numbers, but they would have only taken 5-10 minutes to make thanks to these tools.
I’ll be using this article as my base to convert into a video.
I’m going to be looking into the following tools:
- Adobe Spark Video
The sign up process isn’t bad, not requiring a credit card to start. They then ask you what ‘type of video’ you want to make. I went with ‘convert your blogs, articles, listicles into engaging videos’ as this was what we’ll be using these tools for mainly.
You get an option to take a tutorial, but I’m going to go straight in and see how easy it is to use. You’re greeted with a variety of different templates to choose from. I went for the ‘Graceful’ template as this is the sort of style you see most on social media. Choosing your template is made pretty easy by the hover preview. Handily they let you choose the video format between 16:9, 1:1, or 9:16 vertical video. It will be interesting to see if this can be dynamically changed once the video is made – future James here, no you cannot dynamically edit this after.
You can start with a script, an article link or photos and videos. I’m going to go with an article link.
The scraper took my article and did a great job of picking out the key points. You can obviously change them and the editor is easy enough to do so. For this, I am pretty happy so I am going to go ahead.
InVideo then does some magic and turns the above preview into a video that you can start editing. A lot of the editors in this article are very similar and offer an experience that is pretty much the same. I will highlight the differences the best I can.
You can edit your copy, add different images or videos. You can upload your own media if you have it. You can also change the format of the slide between headline, story, quote, question, social, listicle headline, listicle item.
The selection of media from InVideo is average. The majority of the content comes from free video site Pixabay. It’s certainly useable though. I’d stray away from using photos in these types of videos as stock photos don’t usually look all that great. Once you have found your photo or clip, it is super easy to drag onto your item. Once you’ve dragged it on, you’ll need to adjust the length of the clip.
Each slide is called a scene. If you want to change any of the settings of each scene, such as the media you use, the fonts, layout, or animation – you do that in the scene editor. The performance of the scene editor isn’t horrendous. I use a 15″ 2016 MacBook Pro and it’s far from smooth, but useable.
After using the editor for about half an hour, I found it quite sluggish and frustrating to use. The features were all there, but this certainly won’t give you much of a quick turnaround. There are quite a few customisations for making your video, but after spending too long working around the tool, I just settled on exporting from the most basic version of this video.
You can then preview and export your video. The preview doesn’t take too long (maybe 10 seconds) but then you might have to wait a little while (10 minutes) for the video to process. You’ll then only have the option to export or share on social media, but no integrated sharing options. There are also no options to choose download quality (but I’ll caveat this by saying it might be to do with it being the free plan).
Anyway, here is the final product:
As you can see, the quality isn’t too bad but you have that horrendous watermark in the top right corner, definitely upgrade to the paid plan to get rid of that. That leads me nicely into the pricing of InVideo, which reasonably has a free plan but a jump up to $30 for the next plan to remove the branding. However, if you want to get a 1080p video you’ll need to fork out a whopping $150 a month.
Animoto has no free plan, but they give you a free trial for 14 days. It’s very well priced though, with a 7.99 p/m entry level plan and a 21.99 p/m Pro plan. Props to Animoto too, the 14-day free trail doesn’t require a credit card.
Animoto also gives you some template options as soon as you start, but they are more industry specific. I couldn’t find any that were based on a blog article, so I went with ‘Real Estate Explainer’ as it seemed like the most similar to what I was looking for.
You’re then taken to the editor which is filled with the placeholder content for you to go in and edit. This certainly isn’t as easy as the automation of the other tools where I can just drop in a link and it will pull out the most relevant parts. I can tell immediately that this isn’t going to take the 5-10 minutes I want to spend. The editor means you have to go into each individual storyboard item and make your edits, instead of an overview where you can edit there and then. Bonus points for being able to upload your own media no problem.
The editor was pretty good and responsive, being able to change my fonts, font colour and content. Helpfully, you can also record a VoiceOver for this, which I think is very useful.
The selection of content was pretty poor, especially for videos. It was all also very ‘stocky’ as all of the content is from Getty. I was very pleased there was an option to change the styling of the project overall. This meant I could change to my brand colours. I’d like more font & styling options for this. It seems strange I can use my secondary font of Rubik, but not in the weight that I need.
I then found I couldn’t easily edit the style of slide I was using. I was stuck with a quote on one of them, I figured I’d just keep it.
After fiddling around for well over 45 minutes on poor videos and formatting, I decided to call it a day and just export what I had. A very bad editing experience here from Animoto.
Export options were pretty good mind you, with the ability to export in various video qualities. They keep a watermark on for the trial version (which is fair enough) and you only need to jump to 7.99 to remove.
Once the video was exported the options were pretty good. You can embed the video and share it on all social media accounts right there and then. You can also download the video in a variety of different resolutions.
Here is the video I got out of it:
Try Lumen5 here.
I’ve heard good things about Lumen5 from Vivi Nation Founder, Chris Smith. They have a freemium plan which is a major plus for me. You can create a video with a link or some text. I dropped my link in to see how it automated the copy.
It will then ask you what format you’re looking for. Again, it will be interesting to see if you can dynamically change this as you go. You can then pick a theme, similar to the previous two tools.
The editor looks pretty much identical to the InVideo version. The AI picked a selection of sentences that worked pretty well. It also pulled through the images I used in the article which is really helpful. On the left-hand side, you can see the whole article and start to edit which text you see on each slide. It also pulled through my brand colours – I am not sure if this is a coincidence though.
One thing I noticed about this editor is you can have ‘scenes’ and ‘sub-scenes’ which means you can have longer sections of text on the same video / image.
I wanted to change the styling throughout, but it looks like you need to upgrade to one of the paid plans to do so! You can’t even change the font, which is frustrating. The trouble is the upgrade is not exactly cheap, skip to my thoughts on the pricing.
The editor of Lumen5 is one of the best. It’s quick, easy to use and with lots of customisation options right there on the screen. You get previews of the video content and you can just drag the content onto the scene. It took me no more than 5 minutes to add the copy and images to my video.
Exporting is also pretty easy, you get an immediate preview and then you can share the video to Facebook or Instagram or download it (this will take about 5 minutes to process.
Very impressed with Lumen5, but it lets itself down with their pricing, it’s a real shame.
If you want to get anything even remotely useful out of Lumen5 (as in a HD video) you need to step up to $49 a month! To get a 1080p video and a Getty image library (you know my thoughts on Getty) you’ll have to fork out an astonishing $149 a month. I think Lumen has the best editing experience, so it’s a shame they price out most video marketers.
Here is the final video:
Turns out Magisto has just been acquired by Vimeo, so it will be interesting to see where that goes. I go to sign up for a trial with them and they are the first to not have a free plan or to let me trial without my card details (someone remind me to cancel in 7 days!). However, this does mean I have access to all the pro features, which seem pretty good.
Magisto starts a different way round here. You first choose your media and then your style. Although I must say the design and layout here looks very nice. Let’s see if the rest holds up. With the paid plan of Magisto, you get access to the iStock stock footage library which sounds mean for some better clips.
It was a bit odd trying to figure out the footage I wanted before I had the text there. Luckily I’d just done the same thing 3 times so I knew what I was looking for. On the plus side, there were some good options for video content, although there was no hover preview which I’d come to really like in Lumen5.
You then have to choose an ‘editing style’ which I didn’t actually have any idea what they meant. So I picked one at random.
You then choose your music, add a title then ‘create a preview’. I am not sure what will happen after this screen.
This is a different experience to the other options as it then renders a video for you (with no text) which you can then edit after the fact. I’m actually going to stop Magisto right here as I don’t really think it’s right for what we are looking for with these type of video posts.
As you can see it is very much not automated and I think it more likely something you’d use with video you have already shot (at which point you should just use a normal video editor). Interesting concept, but a shame it didn’t quite work out for what we wanted here.
With a free plan, it was easy to get started with Wave.video with some very reasonable pricing. There was no trial to get to grips with some of the more premium features (including exporting as a file).
As with the other apps, you’re presented with a variety of different templates in a variety of different formats. You could also search these via category. The templates would be quite handy for ‘international day of’ type content. I was hoping I’d be able to get previews when I hovered over the templates but I could only judge based off the preview. I chose one of the ‘blog promotion’ templates.
One of the best features of Wave.video is being able to dynamically change between different format sizes. For the free plan you can switch between 16:9 and 1:1 aspect ratio which is really handy.
There are quite a good variety of videos to choose from. With 3 different tiers of content. You’ve got free videos, free with an upgrade which is about 10x the amount and then a marketplace where you can buy stock footage. Helpfully you can hover over to get previews of the footage. The free videos, however, not so great.
The editor of Wave.video takes a little more getting used to compared to the other options, where you choose your footage before you build your storyboard. There is also no way to generate automatic copy using a link which doesn’t help with speed.
Everything in this editor is manual and although very easy to use once you know where the controls are, it takes far too long to make each video. There is loads of customisation, but that’s not really what I’m looking for in this test. My video took me about 30 minutes to put together and I am still not really happy with the end product.
Another big limitation of the free plan is that you can only make 15 second videos. To get a 60 second video or more like the other options you’ll need to step up to the $10 or $39 plan.
When you go to export on the free version you have a choice of Facebook, YouTube or Twitter, but you’ll have to upgrade to be able to download and distribute the video any other ways. The video was posted on my Twitter account within a couple of minutes (for a 15-second video) – which wasn’t too bad.
Another freemium option was Rocketium, which has no option to try one of their premium plans. The free plan gives you some good options, such as exporting in 1080p and using their preset templates. It’s a bit of a jump up to their next plan of $49 per month. To get up to 1080p you’ll need to fork out $99 a month.
There are quite a few templates to get started on, choosing through a list of categories. Upon signing up it tries to take you through a tutorial which I found massively unhelpful. They also tried to ask for push notifications, had a NPS pop up and Intercom, all of which were very annoying. I went with the content listicle, although there weren’t too many good options here.
Once I was in the editor it seemed like there was no option to import my blog link and I’m kind of missing it. This seems like another lengthy copy and pasting job. The editor itself seemed really nice and everything there and ready to edit at my fingertips. It also gives you an option to add a voiceover at each stage which was really helpful. On the left of the editor, you can change the copy and then the design and layout on the right. I really liked this experience. Note; after using the editor for about 10 minutes it started to get VERY glitchy. It all worked in the end, but with a lot of flashing and things breaking. Hopefully, Rocketium can fix this.
The options for stock media seemed very good, being provided by a selection of sources from Shutterstock, Storyblocks, Pixabay, Flickr, Unsplash, Pexels and Lobster. If this is all included in the free plan it’s a major plus of Rocketium. No live preview of the media, unfortunately.
Although there was a lot of customisation available and the editor was quite easy to use, this still didn’t give me that quick video I was looking for. This took me another 30 minutes to make. The glitches I mentioned earlier in the article got so bad I ended up not being able to choose the actual media I wanted to add into my project. So after getting 5 slides in, I gave up. Unless Rocketium can fix the glitchy editor, I can’t recommend you use this at all.
Once I click export it generates the video in the background and only takes a few minutes to render. Here is what I was left with:
Adobe Spark Video
I’ve used Adobe Spark Post before and have been pretty pleased, so I am interested to see how it copes with video. The pricing for Spark is very reasonable with only two tiers and an easy to use free plan. Anyone who already pays for an Adobe CC subscription will be able to get the Spark premium plan included.
Before I get into the editing experience, a small shoutout to Adobe for making it easy for you to easily brand your stories with a logo, brand colours and fonts which you can apply to all of your assets. I could also upload my brand fonts which was very helpful.
My brand assets added and a variety of mockups of how my brand will look on the different templates.
So Adobe Spark lets you create social graphics as well as videos. Once you’ve added your brand it will spit out a variety of different branded template assets. You’ll then get quite a poor selection of video templates to choose from. I went with ‘explainer video’. There were quite a few options and I wasn’t 100% sure any of these options fit what I was looking for. I went with ‘teach a lesson’. I really which I could import my article like some of the earlier options.
The editor seemed pretty easy to use, but I had to build up all of the content myself. Having wanted to do something quickly. I added a load of random Unsplash images to each slide. With Adobe Stock I really thought they would add some free video content for people to use. Negative points there, Adobe. I could choose between a few screen options, themes or resize it for 16:9 or 1:1. It was easy to dynamically change between the two aspect ratios here.
The editor was really simple and easy to use – I managed to get my video completed in around 5 minutes. Frustratingly I was unable to add any video or much customisation to my fonts or layout. The export options too were very limited. I was only able to export a low-res version, which is not great for a ‘premium’ product.
Here is my final version:
After a long weekend testing out all of the different options, all with their pros and cons it’s difficult to bring it down to one to use. I’d say the quickest and easiest to use was Lumen5, Rocketium had the best choice of content, Adobe Spark had the best choice of branding options and Majisto wasn’t really good for anything.
If I was to choose any I would go for one of the paid versions of Lumen5, because although it is the most expensive option it really is the easiest and quickest to get the result I was after.