How to Make a Promotional Video Without a Video Camera


The Riga Hayworth project is fast becoming an obsession.  But it’s taking some time to get off the ground (long story).  So I’m using the wait time to launch a teaser campaign with an online video.  Here’s the thing: my website looks awesome, but not on a cellphone.  I need something cool to link to a QR code placed on the back of a Riga Hayworth business card and to use on social media sites – i.e., a video.

I am not a videographer and have no intention of hiring one.

There are, however, options for cheapskate dullards such as myself and I tested two: Animoto and YouTube’s new video editor.  Both offer music you won’t get sued over, as well as stock videos and photos.  However, YouTube doesn’t allow you to upload photos as photos, you first have to convert them to video.  I did this by using Microsoft’s Windows Movie Maker, and taking screen shots of the text I wanted on a black background, then incorporating those “pictures” into my movie.  With Animoto, you can type the text in as a separate image, but you are limited in the number of characters you can use (it makes Twitter look garrulous).

I have to say, however, for sheer beauty and usability, Animoto has captured my heart.  You just line your photos and text up in the order you wish, select your music, press a button, and the computer magic happens.  Animoto uses different random fades to transition between the slides and the result is gorgeous.  But, if you want all the Animoto goodies (e.g. licensed music and the ability to put a link into your video, and the removal of Animoto’s logo from your video), you’ll have to pay.  The fee’s not bad:  $39/month for the Pro plan.  Needless to say, I intend to complete all my promo videos in one month.

Cheapskate.  I know.

But I did try out Animoto’s free version with some random photos.  To get a flavor of what it can do, take a look: test video.

Another advantage of Animoto is that you’ll get a nice music fade at the end of your video.  Not so with the YouTube video editor.  I think I spent 30 minutes just trying to get my YouTube movie to end in the right spot, and finally gave up.

There’s also an annoying ad that pops up at the bottom of my YouTube movie, as you’ll see if you click on it, below.  You can close it by clicking on the x, but it’s still an irritant, especially since it covers my website URL.  What if people never close the ad?



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