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Explainer Review of a Explainer Video Creator Tool

GoAnimate is a web-based program for creating “explainer videos”. It comes with hundreds of assets, royalty-free music, allowing one to mix these with narration enabling the non-artist to quickly convey thoughts into moving images. It might be considered a cross between presentation software like Keynote or PowerPoint and a traditional, timeline-based video editing program.

A sample of an animated project is below:

Likes:

  1. No software to download – just a web-browser is needed (see point 1, below on a very important limitation regarding this approach).
  2. There are 100s of images, animations and musical assets at one’s fingertips that are easy to modify to create new movements and/or actions.
  3. Additionally, one may upload their own assets (see point 2, below for the important limitation on this ability).
  4. Narration may be uploaded as a file or recorded directly in the program. It is suggested that the audio clips be kept short (e.g. a sentence) and that each clip be associated with a given scene.
  5. The whiteboard animation effect, which allows one to write on text with a hand and pen, is very easy to use.
  6. It is possible to give canned, facial expressions (e.g. anger, happy, frustrated, etc.)  to the pre-animated characters. It doesn’t have the level of control that a timeline type program would have where keyframes could manipulate various regions of the face. This is the trade-off between ease-of-use and the ability to provide nuanced detail that helps a video stand above the crowd.
  7. Direct integration with video content distribution systems, such as Wistia, Vidyar, Vimeo and YouTube, is also a positive. I only tested with YouTube and found that the transfer from GoAnimate was fairly fast and the metadata entered at the GoAnimate site directly transfers to YouTube. There is a limitation in the number of characters that may be entered into the description and tagging didn’t seem to transfer, so it is most likely one would have to log into her YouTube account to refine the metadata.

Dislikes:

  1. It is time-consuming, relative to desktop editing to see a preview of changes for two reasons; a) timing of effects is entered numerically, instead of being drawn on a timeline like a traditional editor, b) to view a change one must click preview, wait for the browser to process the request and then view the previous change.
  2. Instead of a layer metaphor, like a traditional video editor, it splits the video into scenes. Multiple images may be overlaid onto a scene and it is possible, to a point, to bring images in and out of a scene. Unlike a traditional timeline, it isn’t possible to see different images that might be overlap and, as mentioned earlier, the timing of the entry and exit of the images must be done numerically, instead of visually. There is also a limit to the number of images that may enter and exit a scene, as there is a limit on the processing power.
  3. Like any editing product, there was a learning curve. This isn’t a problem if one regularly uses the tool, but if it is infrequent, then producing videos will take longer than desired.
  4. It doesn’t appear that it accepts files over 15 Mbytes, so longer video clips would probably have to be edited ahead of time and put in the proper format (MP4 works, AVCHD, probably not). Effectively, this is adding a second editing step into the process.
  5. It isn’t clear whether the hand or pen can be changed on the whiteboard animation tool.
  6. The direct integration with third parties, mentioned above, is probably not that important, as most would probably want to download the files so they have the original files on local hard-drives. It would be an extra step to upload, but the time-savings would be minimal, compared to the rest of the process. It would be nice if there were direct integration with Facebook, Twitter as well as the aforementioned integrations.
  7. Vendor risk/tool specific risk – The only way to edit the videos is via the GoAnimate online tool. There doesn’t appear to be an Edit Decision List (EDL) capability like a traditional desktop tool (although admittedly, this author has never had much luck with EDL tools).
  8. Pricing – $79.99 per month/$599 per year for a GoPremium license that provides an 1080p output without the GoAnimate logo is pricey for someone who already has video editing tools (granted, there is a $39.99 per month/$299/year option, but the logo remains with this option and it only allows 720p). If the software is used to produce a client video, then a GoPremium subscription is required and there is an additional $79 fee per video and to enable the “rights transfer”.

Conclusions:

This tool could be good for someone who is regularly producing relatively simple “explainer videos”. There are, however, many competitors that appear to provide similar or better functionality for less price, including,

Another approach, beyond these purpose-built tools, is to look at extensions and templates for existing desktop video editing programs, whereby the animation would be integrated with the normal editing workflow.

One response to “Explainer Review of a Explainer Video Creator Tool”

  1. Ken Pyle Avatar
    Ken Pyle

    Another good reference for animation

    https://wistia.com/blog/animated-video-interview

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