Not Ready for Your Close Up? No Worries, You Can Still Do Great Video!

Here are some new ideas for creating compelling videos without being on camera

So you want to create videos, but you’re not too keen about being on camera…

Relax, you’re definitely not alone!  Most folks don’t exactly love the idea of being on camera, myself included.  Having spent most of my career behind the camera instead of in front of it, I am still not comfortable with the idea of being the main attraction.

Sometimes I just don’t feel like getting all dolled up. (Can boys even do that?)  It’s no doubt more difficult for women, but even us work-at-home dads can have a bad hair day! I’ve done hundreds of “talking head” videos, and the good news is that it does get easier…

However, I still prefer “off camera” videos to live, talking-head vids and, fortunately, those off-cam videos can be quite effective.  So feel free to step away from the webcam and I’ll share some video alternatives that do not require your on-camera presence…

Photo/Video Montage

Animoto.com – Perhaps the best known and easiest to use video creation site on the web.  You can create 30-second montages for free; for longer videos you’ll have to sign up for one of their premium plans.  Sites like these allow you to upload your photos, add music and select a theme or “template.”

OneTrueMedia.com – One of my all time favorite video creation sites – I’ve created hundreds of photo montages using OTM’s user-friendly interface.  The free version has plenty of features, and it’s “drag and drop” simple to add photos and video clips.

Stupeflix – Stupeflix.com is smarter than it sounds!  Similar to Animoto.com, but with a bit more flexibility for the free version.  You can upload your own photos, or import them from Facebook, Flickr or Picasa.  There’s also a decent selection of music to choose from.

Screencasting

PowerPoint – Microsoft’s PowerPoint still sets the standard for presentation software.  As a Mac person, I prefer Apple’s Keynote but, either way, you can narrate your presentation and save it as a “movie” or video!

Prezi – If you’re ready to take those traditional PowerPoint presentations to a whole new level, check out Prezi.com, the free, cloud-based presentation software that puts your message in motion!  With a “zoomable” canvas, your presentations become much more engaging and dynamic.

Camtasia – When it’s time to play with the big boys, you may be ready for Techsmith’s Camtasia Studio, the go-to software for screencasts.  Camtasia comes with a bigger price tag and a steeper learning curve, but it’s a ‘must have’ if you plan on producing screen capture videos regularly.

SlideMotion – This site is new to the screencasting scene, but it’s ease of use is making it a new fave.  You can create video slide shows with music, and they’ve also got a simple ‘onboard’ editor so you can add text, etc. Their Facebook application is a nice touch, and allows you to create quick videos (in just 3 clicks) from your Facebook photos.

DIY Animation

If you decide to get really fun and creative, you can try your hand with “do-it-yourself” animation.  There are online resources and free websites that make it really easy to create your very own cartoon.  This can be a unique and memorable way to get your message across, and it takes only minutes!

My favorite two sites (listed below) both allow you to create your own animated characters and give them voice.  You provide the script, and your cartoon characters do the rest!

Xtranormal.com – This cool site boasts “text to movie” technology that allows you to type out exactly what you want your characters to say.  Creating “insta-animation” couldn’t be easier.  Xtranormal offers a host of characters, backgrounds, sound effects and more.  Be forewarned that this freemium site requires points (aka cash) to access extra characters and additional bells and whistles, but start with the free version and see what you think.

GoAnimate.com – Another fun and easy-to-use site that offers characters so you can create your own story.  Just add text, and the text becomes the narration for your characters.

Whatever tools you choose, rest assured that you can create a very professional looking video for little or no cost, and without the stress that usually comes with having to appear on camera.  These off-camera solutions could be the answer to your online video prayers!