animated videos

Maybe you know the video we have on our home page. We had it created by a very talented animator who specializes in speed drawing. You simply hand him over your script (storyline) and he will create something nice out of it. The downside is that it’s at least $400 per minute.

Now, we wanted to make a similar video for our sister website ChatToolTester.com, hopefully without breaking the bank.

We were indeed successful. Producing this video cost us just around $75:

You can even have it completely for free if a watermark doesn’t bother you and you do the voice recording yourself. If you want to learn how we created it step by step, read on.

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 like (“wouldn’t it be nice if…”)
  • show how your tool, app, or service can deliver this

You can download the full script we used for the video here (Google Docs).

2) Getting a Voice Over

If you want to work with a narrator like we did in our video, you will need someone to do a voice over. I generally recommend Fiverr.com as prices there are fairly low. The quality is not always perfect, but 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 specializes in voice overs is Voicebunny.com. Prices are generally higher than on Fiverr but it seems to offer better options to find the right narrator. I haven’t tried Voicebunny, though.

3) Choosing a video tool

After researching for a bit I found several interesting options:

VideoScribePowtoon.comWideo.coVyond.comMuvizu.com, and Biteable. Since someone recommended PowToon to me before and I also liked the way they present themselves on their website, I decided to give it a shot. Also, with PowToon you don’t need to install anything on your local computer, which can be an advantage.

There is also VideoScribe, which lets you create whiteboard video. Here is one we did for our website:

The zooms were edited in Camtasia Studio after the export but all the rest was all done in VideoScribe. Amateur video editing knowledge (which I have at best) was sufficient.

4) Creating your video (using PowToon as an example)

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.

Our short screencast shows you how it works:

Some quick comments about PowToon:

  • They do have nice characters, but all in all there should be more. More personas, more stock images etc. What you can do, however, is add external images to your video. We used Adobe Stock.
  • To “cartoonize” the logos and the screenshot of our website we used the free Cartoonize.net tool. You could also try to do that with Picasa, for example.
  • There is one sequence where you see a zooming effect. I did this in Camtasia Studio as PowToon doesn’t have this feature.
  • Audio editing is very limited: you can only use one track for the whole video and there is no fade out effect.
  • We purchased the audio track from Pond5 for $20.

If you want to have your video ad-free and in HD, you will have to use on of their Premium plans. You can either Pay-per-Export or purchase a subscription. The pay as you go plan requires you to purchase at least 5 exports for $90 ($18 for each export).

If you are planning on producing a lot of videos, you should take a closer look at the Pro plan, which is $20 per month if you subscribe for one year. If you want a flexible contract it will set you back $60 per month. Obviously this pricing structure intends to avoid that people only create one video and then cancel the subscription.

All in all I am very happy about the result. Following this step by step process you should easily be able to make animated videos yourself. Here you can give PowToon a free try.

Please let me know what you think about it in the comments!

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