Let’s face it. Software is expensive, and the learning curve can be steep.
In conjunction with our Be Here projects about place-based storytelling, we’ve reviewed a number of tools that might be helpful for people creating audio/video content and stories. If you’re unfamiliar with the Be Here project, its aim is to democratize cultural content, giving everyone an opportunity to document a place, event, or experience that has significance–historically or even emotionally. We’re helping people record and share stories about American places and traditions that are rooted in experience and accrued knowledge, not just facts and dates.
Based on those project parameters, we researched free (or very low-cost), third-party platforms that you can use to create stories. All of the platforms could work well, depending on your content/audience goals. Nonetheless, with our project goals in mind, this is how we critiqued the platforms:
Ease of use: Is it “techy”? Does it require advanced knowledge? Can you really pick it up and start creating, let’s say a video, in a few minutes?
Longevity: Will the platform be around the next couple of years?
Is it really free, or is there a catch?
Read through the WHY of our ratings. All of these platforms have utility and may be perfect for individual or organizational storytellers, depending on short-term and long-term goals. The highest rating is 5 stars.
Adobe Spark for Video Creation (4.5 out of 5 stars)
As far as free video editing tools go, this one is pretty great. Simply create an account, or sign in through Facebook or your Google account and start making videos!
- Stock photos and music are available for you to browse and embed
- Easy to use, drag and drop content. No need for timelines and key frames.
- Easy to manage and edit
- Easy to export
- Templates available for professional looks
- A host of fonts, colors, and style associated with templates
- At this stage, audio is only available to record while in the tool, making it difficult, if not impossible, to include .mp3 files or audio that has been recorded from another time or place. (Here’s a work around we came up with you DO have other video editing tools. Create the Adobe Spark video with everything except your external audio clips and then export to another tool like Premiere Elements or Final Cut to add the legacy audio). If you come up with another “hack,” let us know!
- Totally free!
- Click and drag and capture audio for quick cutting of sound segments
- So much documentation out there on how to use it
- Easy-to-understand ways to “enhance” audio
- Allows you zoom in for detail sound editing
- Doesn’t work allow editing of .m4a files
This tool is great for creating artwork for slideshows or videos.
- Drag and drop design
- Totally free with options to upgrade and/or buy clip art and photography
- Ready-made templates for everything under the sun, including social media graphics, flyers, brochures, and more.
- Huge range of fonts and design options
- High-res downloadable print files available with bleeds
- Large selection of illustrations and clip art
- Cannot add guides to help with alignments
- Cannot add delicate lines or detailed shapes and lines (unless as graphics from your own desktop)
What are we reviewing RIGHT NOW?
Flipgrid (Under Review!)
We’re still figuring this tool out, but it has a create deal of potential for both recording and showcasing video content, particularly in a class room environment. Teachers seem to adore this tool!
Storybird (Under Review!)
Again, we’re exploring this tool, but it’s definitely breaks out of the mold. Use it to combine images and words, essentially turning them into picture books.
Here are a couple of other ideas!