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Explainer Video Software: A Complete Guide

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth millions. But if you’ve landed on this page then you probably know that.

But how easy is it to actually make an animated video using explainer video software? Companies may boast that their software is the easiest to use or that you can create your video in minutes, but can this really be the case for someone with little to no technical experience?

As a complete novice in animation, I thought it would be fun to test out the explainer video software on the market.

What Makes a Good Explainer Video?

Before getting started, I thought it would be a good idea to get some inspiration. And guess what? There are tons of really cool explainer videos out there!

I love this one from Slack, which keeps it purely visual (i.e. no voiceover or text). Just shows what you can do with animation! Check it out below:

Dissolve reminded me that it’s important to bring some humor to your video. After all, if you do it right, a video can go viral, which is just what happened to this one. It’s also a good reminder to steer clear of clichés.

So, what makes a good explainer video?

  • Make it original and don’t copy the competition
  • Humor – Make it funny! Your video is much more likely to be shared if it tickles your audience
  • Keep it simple – The point of an explainer video is to help people understand your product or service better, so don’t over complicate things
  • Know your audience – Think about who you’re trying to appeal to and the style of video they’d appreciate

How to Make an Explainer Video

Before choosing the perfect explainer video software, it’s important to do a bit of planning. You should also have a clear idea of what the goal/purpose of this video is. Once you have that clear, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  1. Create your video script
  2. Record the voice over
  3. Choose the video software
  4. Make your explainer video
  5. Publish and share!

1) Creating a Video Script

The first thing you need is a storyline. For most web tools or app presentations the structure is actually very similar:

  • Showcase a problem
  • Show how an ideal world without the problem would look (“wouldn’t it be nice if…”)
  • Show how your tool/app/service can deliver this

2) Getting a Voice Over

If you’ve seen as many explainer videos as I have, you’ll have a pretty clear idea of what a typical voice over sounds like. This can be pretty hard to achieve – believe me, I’ve tried – so I’d recommend heading over to Fiverr.com. Prices there are fairly low and, though the quality is not always perfect, you don’t have much to lose, given the fact that you can get your recording for only 5-10 dollars per minute.

Another place that is specialized in voice overs is Voicebunny.com. Prices are generally higher than on Fiverr but it seems to offer better options.

3) Choosing the Right Video Explainer Software

Turns out there are plenty of easy-to-use video explainer tools out there, many of which have a free plan, or at least a free trial, so you can see if you like it before you sign up. Choosing the right software is essential. In testing the following software I’ve seen that offerings can vary quite a bit, along with the price tags attached.

Here are my reviews of the top 10 explainer video software on the market:

Vyond

Explainer Video Software: Vyond

Vyond has tons of cool features to help you achieve a professional look and feel with your video. The material and templates are very modern and it allows you to easily animate characters. I’d really recommend this software.

What I liked about Vyond

  • Plenty of modern icons available
  • You can make videos in a range of different styles
  • When editing characters, you have a whole host of options, allowing you to get the action, emotion and characteristics just right
  • Their sound gallery is pretty decent and their sound effects are a cool feature you can have some fun with!

What they could improve

  • The ability to import fonts is reserved for higher-tier account holders
  • Their annual discounts aren’t quite as generous as other software providers

Explainer Video Software: Vyond

Pricing

Personal/Business Premium: $89/month or $649 for the year

No Vyond watermark

Business Professional: $159/month or $999 for the year

Team collaboration, contemporary character creator

Try Vyond out for free today!

PowToon

explainer video software powtoon video type

If you have ever used any video making software before, for example, Windows Movie Maker or iMovie, getting the hang of PowToon should be fairly easy. In fact, it’s much easier considering they offer a lot of material (music, video footage, etc.) within the platform.

What I like about PowToon

  • The interface is clean and easy-to-use. Editing each element and incorporating new ones is painless, and they have a number of cool effects
  • The video footage they have on offer is pretty good, though all the best stuff is reserved for higher tier plans, of course
  • If you want to add music to your video, they have a large selection of free and premium music clips. Alternatively, if you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can check out Pond5, which has tons of royalty free tracks

What they could improve

  • They do have nice characters and props, but all in all there should be more, and most options are only available in the Pro plan. If you want to “cartoonize” your own images or create avatars, you can do so for free on Cartoonize.com
  • The same goes for images. Though you do have access to Flickr images, annoyingly, the search bar doesn’t work, as any query you put in produces zero results. What you can do, however, is to add external images to your video
  • Audio editing is very limited: you can only use one track for the whole video and there is no fade out effect

Pricing

Though they have a free plan, if you want to have your video ad-free and in HD you’ll have to flash the cash. There is also a big difference in price when you pay annually.

Starter: $79/ month or $16/month billed annually

1 export, 1GB of storage

Pro: $89/ month or $19/month billed annually

5 exports, 2 GB of storage

Pro+: $197/ month or $59/month billed annually

Unlimited exports, 10 GB of storage

Agency: $99/month billed annually

Unlimited exports, 100 GB of storage, custom fonts

Here you can give PowToon a try for free.

Wideo

Explainer Video Software: Wideo

Wideo allows you to create animated videos and presentations, though if you want access to all the good stuff, you’re going to have to go pro.

What I liked about Wideo

  • They have a decent selection of icons and images
  • Easy-to-use, modern interface

What they could improve

  • Their Basic plan is pretty basic, offering very limited sound and template galleries. They also set a cap at just 1-minute

Pricing

Basic: $59/month or $19/month billed annually

10 downloads per month

1-minute videos

20 video templates

Pro: $99/month or $39/month billed annually

Unlimited downloads

10-minute videos

Full template gallery

Enterprise: $199/month or $79/month billed annually

Two accounts

Premium support

Unlimited video length

Try out Wideo for free here.

Rawshorts

explainer video software rawshorts

Rawshorts’ explainer video software is slightly different from the others on this list due to the fact that it uses AI to create a video draft in seconds – or so it says on their website.

All you have to do is upload your video script and their machine learning algorithms will scan the text to identify the main concepts for your storyboard. They then determine which assets will best suit your script and generate a voice over. You then review it, make any edits if necessary and publish it. Intriguing, right? Well, there is a catch. Take a look below.

What I liked about Rawshorts

  • As well as using their AI technology, you can also make your video from scratch or use one of their contemporary pre-made templates
  • Their objects gallery is full of modern, attractive illustrations
  • They offer a great selection of stock footage
  • Very affordable prices with a generous download limit

What they could improve

  • 200-word limit for script processing in AI
  • The editor is pretty slow to load
  • If you use their AI technology, you’ll need to do a fair bit of editing. In my case, it highlighted concepts that didn’t need highlighting
  • You can apply their voice over but I wouldn’t recommend it… Unless you like the robotic monotone effect

Pricing

Essential: $49/month or $39 billed annually

25 premium exports per month with a duration of 5 minutes

Business: $89/month or $59 billed annually

50 premium exports per month with a duration of 10 minutes

Try Rawshorts out for free and test it yourself!

Animaker

explainer video software animaker

Animaker claims to be 10X better than other online animation video making software. That’s quite a statement I had to validate. This explainer video software is certainly one of the cheaper solutions on this list, and their pre-made templates are fairly modern-looking. But there are a couple of things to be aware of.

What I liked about Animaker

  • Their free templates are much nicer than those available on other tools
  • Offers helpful tutorials on how to make each style of video
  • They have really nice animation styles, though these are reserved for Premium users
  • Very reasonable prices

What they could improve

  • I couldn’t find a way to start completely from scratch, instead, I had to use one of their templates
  • They have a voiceover feature where you paste in the text and a voiceover is generated from a (small) selection of voices. Unless you’re going for the robotic vibe, I’d steer clear and either do your own or hire a professional on Fiverr.com
  • No autosave feature
  • As the site runs on Adobe Flash, which is largely becoming obsolete due to security issues, you’ll have to unblock the permissions in your settings. You might have to do this on a number of occasions as it resets itself

Pricing

Free:

5 exports/month of up to 2 minutes. Animaker branding

Personal: $19/month or $12 billed annually

20 exports/month of up to 5 minutes

Startup: $35/month or $19 billed annually

40 exports/month of up to 15 minutes. HD/SD quality

Business: $59/month or $39 billed annually

100 exports/month of up to 30 minutes. Custom fonts and commercial rights

Try Animaker out for free and test it yourself!

Moovly

Explainer Video Software: Moovly

Though Moovly could do with adding a few more templates, their graphics and photo library have enough material to inspire you and animate your message in your preferred style. They also have a generous export limit, which will be more than enough for most small businesses.

What I liked about Moovly

  • Very handy learn by doing tutorial
  • Easy to use interface
  • A good selection of photos and graphics
  • Prices are very reasonable for a generous amount of exports

What they could improve

  • It would be nice to be able to preview the premium assets in the free account
  • They could add a few more templates – these are also quite short

Explainer Video Software: Moovly Templates

Pricing

Pro: $49/month or $24.92 billed annually

25 exports/month. Commercial use

Business: $49.92/month set price

50 exports/month. Custom fonts and colors

Enterprise: Custom pricing 

100 exports/month. Multiple accounts

Try Moovly out for free and test it yourself!

Renderforest

Explainer Video Software: Renderforest
Renderforest is another tool that uses AI and machine learning algorithms to help you create your explainer video. Though, like the rest, you’ll be better off sticking to the templates provided. What’s nice about this video explainer software is that they’ve created a community by allowing users to rate the templates available. They also showcase their users’ videos.

What I liked about Renderforest

  • The templates are sophisticated and contain lots of fun animations
  • This is the only provider on the list that offers reasonable pricing for one-off exports – 1 video will cost you just $9.99!
  • Paying customers can make use of their voiceover software (though I haven’t tested this) where they can both record and edit

What they could improve

  • Though their animations have a contemporary feel, there aren’t a ton of options available when it comes to characters and icons
  • Renderforest provides you with scenes, for example, a man/woman walking through the office. As far as I can tell, it’s not possible to create something completely from scratch, without using their pre-made scenes

Pricing

Free: All videos feature Renderforest’s watermark

One-off export: (1 video) $9.99, (2 videos) $19.99, (3 videos) $29.99

Subscriptions: Amateur $59/month, Pro $89/month, Business $119, Enterprise $229/month

Try Renderforest out for free and test it yourself! 

Sparkol Videoscribe

Explainer Video Software: Videoscribe

Here’s a video one of my colleagues made on Videoscribe way back in the day:

It’s what’s known as a whiteboard video, which is what Videoscribe specialises in.

What I like about Videoscribe

  • Amateur video editing knowledge is sufficient
  • If you’re looking for a hand drawn look, Videoscribe is fairly decent, though you might find their icons slightly dated. You can upload your own SVG or GIF files

What they could improve

  • Videoscribe is for people looking to create whiteboard explainer videos. If you’re in need of more options, you’ll find this software to be limited
  • Though they have a fairly large selection of music, I didn’t find any I really liked (but that could just be my taste)
  • They don’t have that many templates and the ones they do feel a bit dated
  • Not cloud-based

Pricing

They do offer a free plan, however, you’ll have to put up with the Videoscribe watermark, which is not subtle.

Single users

Monthly Plan: €25/month recurring payment

Yearly Plan: €13/month recurring payment

One Off: €550 One-off payment

Team licenses

Team of 5+ users: €143/user

Team of 10+ users: €138/user

Team of 20+ users: €133/user

There are also discounts if you take out more than one license and if you’re buying for a charity or non-profit.

Heads up, unlike the other solutions on this list, you have to download the software to your desktop.

Try out Videoscribe for free here.

Biteable

Explainer Video Software: Biteable

Biteable is apparently used by 4 million marketers, so it must be doing something right. Yes, it’s easy to use, but perhaps too easy. I found it a bit limited when it comes to video editing.

What I liked about Biteable

  • If you’re not happy after 14 days they’ll give you a complete refund
  • Their prices are very reasonable
  • A wide selection of modern, attractive templates
  • Connected directly to Shutterstock, which makes it easy to find decent imagery and footage
  • If you’d rather follow a template and produce something simple then Biteable is fine

What they could improve

  • Yes, they have a ton of templates and ready-made scenes that you can edit, but it doesn’t really allow you to set up your own from scratch
  • The editor doesn’t give you many options aside from changing the font and adding an image  – it feels more like your editing an email newsletter than a video

Pricing

Starter: $29/month or $20 billed annually

1 video per month

Pro: $49/month or $29 billed annually

3 videos per month

Unlimited: $99/month or $49 billed annually

Unlimited videos

Try out Biteable

Spark Adobe

Explainer Video Software: Spark Adobe

Spark Adobe offers a simple video editor that comes with a number of themes. You can start for free and then upgrade if you want to get rid of the watermark (though it is less obtrusive than others I’ve seen). They have a number of themes and templates, though I didn’t find any specific template for creating an explainer video.

What I liked about Spark Adobe

  • It’s very easy to use
  • If you want more than just videos then you have a great selection of attractive templates that will look great on social media

What they could improve

  • When you look through their templates you can’t tell if you’re looking at an image, video, infographic, etc. Turns out they are all static and not video templates
  • No specific templates for explainer videos
  • Not possible to animate icons

Pricing

Starter: Free

Individual: $9.99/month or $99.99/ year, prepaid

Team: $33.99/month per license

Try Spark Adobe out for free

Mysimpleshow

explainer video software mysimpleshow

This video explainer software is one of the more expensive solutions I tested, but it does offer something that other tools don’t. Mysimpleshow breaks down each step, starting with writing the script. Like Rawshorts, they also process your script and generate a video based on the keywords present. Though it sounds helpful, this tool doesn’t do a good enough job to warrant the hefty price tag.

What I liked about mysimpleshow

  • If you need help writing your script then this feature could be a plus

What they could improve

  • In order to create a video you must pass through the initial stage of writing a script or uploading one, but this must be a PowerPoint file. If you’ve already got the voiceover prepared, it’s quite annoying that you can’t skip this step
  • There wasn’t much variety in illustration styles, at least in the free version
  • Very small music gallery
  • Examples offered are all very samey
  • Overpriced

Pricing

Business: $129/month or $79 billed annually

Pro: $499/month or $399 billed annually

For agencies

Try mysimpleshow out for free and test it yourself!

Conclusion: Which Explainer Video Software Should I Choose?

I’d recommend PowToon and Vyond. Both of these tools have a wide, modern selection of icons, video footage and effects, and their software is easy to use. Obviously, if you know you’re going to be creating a large number of videos over a long period of time, go for the annual plan and benefit from their generous discounts. If you just want to create a couple of videos, you’ll pay around $89 a month.

Best deal for one-off users

For $89 Rawshorts will allow for 50 exports within a month. That’s much more generous than PowToon, which only allows for 5. You’ll also be able to test out their AI technology.

Explainer video software to avoid

I would avoid Mysimpleshow as the options available do not warrant the price. There are much better and cheaper options on this list.

Let me know which video explainer software you went for in the comments, and how you got on!

Updated:

September 25th 2019 – Addition of Renderforest

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