Easy Video Creation Software

Like most software, video creation software has gotten easier to use. But it can still be daunting as there are lots of things you can control or tweak with it. Not to mention terms like white balance and bit rates and video codecs and all sorts of other weird and wonderful terms.

Fortunately, for everyday use the out-of-the-box settings are fine. Mainly because software producers realise that we never read the manual or do anything much with the numerous settings they give us.

YouTube built-in software

YouTube allows you to record your webcam or a series of slides.

When you press the upload button, these options are on the upload screen.

That means that you don’t need any extra software at all – you just follow the on-screen prompts and you can produce your video.

This is a good option for beginners or if you want to do a talking head style video with your webcam. Since it doesn’t involve installing any extra software beyond what you’ve already got installed (your webcam will already have set itself up) it’s the easiest option.

Google Hangouts Software

This is also near enough built in to your computer.

It records your webcam in much the same way as YouTube does.

But it also adds the capability of capturing all of your screen or a section of it. Which means you can produce slide show videos by creating something in PowerPoint or screen capture videos just by browsing. Then use your microphone to control the narration side of things.

The only snag with using Hangouts is that it’s live. Which is good if you’re a confident presenter who doesn’t ever stumble, cough or say “err” too often. And less good if any of those apply.

Cheap or free software

Using cheap or even free software doesn’t mean you have to compromise very much.

Even programs like Jing (which is free) or Screencast-o-matic (free or cheap) do what you’d expect in that they capture your webcam or screen and your voice.

There’s less fine tuning available than on a more expensive software program but the majority of the time (or maybe even all of the time), they’ll do what you need.

The big plus point with cheap software is that you normally don’t have as much of a learning curve. There are exceptions – an audio program like Audacity is free but has at least as many features as software costing hundreds of dollars – but for video it seems to be that you get less features on the cheaper software.

That’s actually great news because it means you can concentrate on creating your video rather than learning which of seemingly a gazillion buttons to press on the software just to get it to record.

My recommendation

If you’re completely confident and are used to standing up in front of a room of people with a presentation, use YouTube or Hangouts.

They’re perfectly adequate except that it’s “one take” – much like the early days of television.

If you’re slightly nervous or want a bit more control, go with Screencast-o-matic.

Personally I find Jing a bit too low on the control and it’s interface isn’t as standard as I’d like. I don’t use it often enough to get the hang of the interface and I don’t like having to learn how to use a program every time I start it up.

Screencast-o-matic offers less features in the free version but, providing you’re happy with a small watermark on the finished video, is OK and gives you more than enough “play” time to find out how well you get on with it.

The paid version is still cheap – currently $15 per year – and works out much less than you’d pay just for upgrades to more expensive software.

It adds quite a lot of features and, in common with any feature creep software, most of those you’ll probably never use. Personally, I prefer to only “not use” 50% of the available features of a program than closer to 95% which is the case for myself and near enough everyone I’ve met with bigger software programs.

You can always upgrade later if you find that creating videos is something you want to do more often but my guess is that you’ll get away with free or cheap software for most if not all of your video creation.