Great text-to-video, fast, cheap, dummy-ready?
April 23, 2013 9:10 PM   Subscribe

I want to make YouTube videos of 2-3 minute text. The popular kinetic typography stuff and whiteboard stuff is eye-catching. But I have little video editing experience and suck at drawing. What is something simple I could use?

This needs to be something I do myself, preferably computer-only (not camera). No outsourcing. I simply want to take short articles that I write, record the audio (which I can do easily already), and translate that to short, text-eye-candy videos that keep people's attention for 2-3 minutes. Topic: political/civic current events material. Need fairly quick turnaround (one hour, tops). Is there an online or software solution that "wizards" this together? I use a MacBook Pro.

Some quick examples for reference ...

Kinetic typography:

Whiteboard animation:

Simpler, stylized, scrolling text narration:

Anything interesting that I haven't seen that might fit the bill?

[Bonus Points for free or freeware solutions.]
posted by skypieces to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Prezi, perhaps?
posted by oceano at 9:18 PM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Cheap, fast, easy -- choose any two. Adobe After Effects is the tool of choice for kinetic typography videos. It's not cheap, it has a steep learning curve, and even after you master it, I doubt you could turn 2-3 minutes of animation on the level of the example you linked in less than an hour.

If you want free, you could do a lot of similar things in Blender, although it's not really intended for that use. it's actually a 3d package, but I've done simple kinetic type before. Expect more of a learning cliff, and a similar problem in that even if you scale the cliff, you're still not going to be able to do that in an hour.

There're techniques you could use to simulate whiteboard animation in both After Effects and Blender, but previous caveats apply.
posted by Alterscape at 9:30 PM on April 23, 2013

The basic version of Prezi is still free and web-based. You can now add audio, but you'd have to record your narration in other free software like Audacity (Mac version).

Some people offer tutorials on using Prezi for kinetic typography, but I haven't tried it myself. One tutorial. Another.

One potential drawback: the viewer has to keep clicking to see the piece play out. They can't just click once, sit back, and see the whole thing.
posted by maudlin at 9:30 PM on April 23, 2013

Response by poster: Prezi looks promising in terms of compiling the presentation, thank you. Unless I read this wrong, you have to share and embed from Prezi itself. No "publish to YouTube" option. To get to YouTube, you have to do a screencast recording of your presentation playing locally, then publish that resultant video to YouTube. Some places (like Facebook) get itchy with embeds other than YouTube/Vimeo. Trying to stay as "mainstream" as I can in terms of sharing. That generally means YouTube.

A great place to start though, thank you.
posted by skypieces at 9:35 PM on April 23, 2013

Response by poster: To clarify, not necessarily looking for kinetic or whiteboard. Just something with similar "motion" in it that displays the text. Even Prezi may be overkill, since I don't necessarily want to add any pics, clipart, etc., at this point. Just moving text (though not just scrolling) or something else simple but "moving".

In short, an interesting way to display text. If I am over-thinking it, feel free to show me simpler-but-effective.
posted by skypieces at 9:39 PM on April 23, 2013

Sorry, I skipped past the YouTube part.

Hmm. Assuming you have Office, you could create animated text in PowerPoint, then run the presentation and record the screen with SnagIt from Techsmith for $49. It includes an upload to YouTube option. Lots of online tutorials, too. The Windows version does a decent job of recording audio from a mic; the Mac version should also do this.

If you don't have Office, you should get LibreOffice ("Libre" as in "beer" and "speech"), which includes a presentation app called Impress. It can output directly to a SWF as well.

Alternatively, if you want just one program, try Camtasia for Mac (also from Techsmith). This would up the price to $99, but it should probably do everything you want: animated text, record audio right inside the program, and upload directly to YouTube. It is marketed as screen recording software, but you can add custom text and images and really build an entire presentation without a single screen cap. It is not AfterEffects, but it should do simple stuff pretty decently.

There is a bit of a learning curve, but there are lots of tutorials online. It will take you more than an hour to learn, but within a day, you should be producing something.

Both SnagIt and Camtasia have 30 day free trials.
posted by maudlin at 10:27 PM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I taught myself basic text animation using Motion 5 in about 3 or 4 hours, just by watching the first couple of video tutorials that googling turned up. The program's only $50 and the text animations are reasonably slick-looking. Also, I found it very easy to adjust timings, transitions etc to sync with accompanying voiceover/effects.
I do think it's a little optimistic to want to turn out a compelling 3-minute animation in an hour, but I found motion fairly simple to learn and use.
posted by bunglin jones at 4:29 AM on April 24, 2013

Strut, a front-end for impress.js is like Prezi. It can move text in 3D, so you can literally see the flip side of words or concepts. I used this last month for a work presentation and it was great. You'd have to do a screencast recording, but this tool is incredibly easy to use. You'd have plenty of time left from your hour once you'd used this once or twice. Works wherever Chome/Firefox/Safari do.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 6:36 AM on April 24, 2013

I use Mac Screenflow to produce simple videos, including screen captures of demos and simple fades/etc using static images produced in Illustrator and Photoshop. It's cheap and easy, and has a Publish to YouTube option.
posted by Kafkaesque at 11:47 AM on April 24, 2013

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