Media production

7 clever ways to create video for free

Many businesses are keen to get into video these days, but cost can be a barrier.  Here are seven smart alternatives to create a video or video-like effect without needing a professional video shoot:

1. 3D panoramas

For businesses that need to show off locations, such as the real estate or hospitality industries, a 3D panorama can work more effectively than a video. Microsoft makes a great free app for iOS and Windows called Photosynth to create a panorama as well as upload and host it for free on Photosynth.net. From there you can also embed it on your own site.

2. Animated gifs

Thinkgeek is one site that uses these to great effect to showcase products, such as LED lighting gadgets changing colour. There are several iPhone and Android apps that let you create animated gifs and cinemagraphs from video recorded through your phone’s camera. A major advantage to animated gifs is their comparatively small file size and compatibility: you can slap them straight on a web page with no need for a plug in.

3. Photo slideshows

Great for creating a record of an event, or a photo montage to display in your reception, you can make animated slideshows instantly with software like iMovie.  It can also add a soundtrack, and has effects that give still photos a sense of motion, such as the "Ken Burns" pan-and-zoom effect.  Or use an online service such as Flixpress, Stupeflix or Animoto.

4. Screen capture

For software demos and tutorials, screen capture software can capture video and narration for you. It’s actually built into OSX 10.6+ (via QuickTime X) plus there are many apps for other platforms. You can create these videos quickly in one go, and not have to worry about matching audio and video later since it’s all done at once.

5. Webcam grabs

An exec I worked with recorded sales pep talks on his iPhone while taking his morning walk, and uploaded them for staff to view. Do this more comfortably at your desktop with your webcam. You can either use software like Photobooth, or record directly into your webcam on YouTube.

6. Video presentations

Cut the "Death by PowerPoint" mortality rate by converting your presentations into videos. Both Apple’s Keynote and Microsoft’s PowerPoint offer this feature.

7. iMovie trailers

Brilliant for promos - eg game trailers, or conference ads - Apple's iMovie offers predesigned "movie trailer" templates that look incredibly slick, but require no editing skills. You can also add photos as well as video.

You’re not going to win a Cannes Lion through any of these methods. But you will end up getting more use out of your existing images and presentations, and add some multimedia richness to your website and social media channels.