Free marketing tools for video production
Video marketing is a vital tool for the modern company, a way to bring a corporate message to a vast audience in a memorable format. Like other forms of marketing, it’s easy to spend a lot of money on producing a web video. High-quality cameras get cheaper all the time, but they’re still not free. Actors, sets and lighting can all add up for the video producer who wants to go the Hollywood route. Last, but far from least, video editing software can eat up a chunk of your production budget.
When you consider that one of the things that attracts people to online video as a marketing strategy is the low barrier to entry, this is less than ideal. Fortunately, although you can spend a lot of money on software, you don’t have to. There are a number of free or low-cost options that, while they may not have the punch of their high-priced counterparts, will probably do everything you need them to.
For PC users, the first place to turn will usually be Windows Movie Maker. Bundled with most versions of Windows, this basic video editing software lacks some of the bells and whistles of more sophisticated editing suites. For a free program, however, it’s surprisingly robust. A wide range of basic editing features make this a good choice for video producers working with recorded footage. Its Apple counterpart is the equally-ubiquitous iMovie, which is included with many versions of the Mac operating system or can be purchased as a separate download.
If live footage isn’t your thing, animation might be the answer. Animoto pulls still images from a variety of sources – such as your Flickr account – and allows it user to turn them into animated films. The free version only allows videos of up to 30 seconds, making it ideal for trailers, commercials or very short explainer videos.
More complex than a simple video editing program, Blender allows users to add interactive features, special effects and even video game elements. Although it’s a superb tool for creating elaborate visual presentations, be prepared to spend some time mastering Blender’s features. A useful tool for the visually ambitious.
A number of interesting products exist that blend social media with video editing. One example is Magisto, a utility that automatically selects what it considers to be the “best” footage from raw video files. Users can then add music and titles before sharing the videos on social networks. On the one hand, Magisto is very easy to use, but it’s not for those who prefer a firmer directorial touch. Another example is Stroome – currently down for renovations, but hopefully back up soon – which runs on a community-based platform that allows users to share and edit video collaboratively. Stroome is a great way to incorporate customer-generated footage of your product in action into your own videos.
Production isn’t the only free element of online video – there are a wide range of free hosts, most notably the dependable, easy-to-use YouTube and Vimeo. Neither is particularly fast, so you’ll want to have your video ready well before it needs to be online, but for free services they have a lot of useful functions. An embedded YouTube video may lack the polish of an unbranded player, but it’s also within the budgetary reach of even the smallest enterprise.
All of these free products have their limitations, and some are clearly intended to get users hooked and shopping for the paid upgrades. Still, they can be very valuable to video producers who are just starting out and want to get some work up on the web without paying too much for the opportunity.