Writing on a Budget: Video and Misc. Apps

If you write on a budget, you end up doing your own ads. This includes video promotion as well.

Videos are no longer just for book trailers. Tik Tok and YouTube are social media powerhouses because people like to watch videos, and so much so, that Instagram is no longer a “picture” app but a video one (or so they claim. Most people I follow on Instagram prefer pics).

Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

If you write, you are going to end up creating a video at some point to advertise your book, or create a tutorial, or put your smiling face up for fans to see. While short clips can be filmed on your camera and uploaded to your social media of choice, book trailers, tutorials and such need a bit more editing love and care than that.

And, like photo apps, there are a variety of free or cheaper programs you can use.

I do not own a MacOS or iOS product, so apps like iMovie won’t be covered here. I’m also not going to cover phone apps. I personally believe that, for book trailers, tutorials and such, you need more computing power and monitor space than you get on a phone. On-the-go is fine for a quick Tik Tok video, not so much for a nicely edited book trailer.

Video Editing Apps

Canva

Canva makes another appearance. Not only can you create regular photo ads with Canva, you can create book trailers as well.

Canva provides all the tools you need to create awesome videos, including stock footage. There is a slight learning curve, and sometimes it’s difficult to get words to show up well against a moving background. Keep at it, though, and you’ll make awesome book trailers!

This YouTube video by Daniel Schiffer is an interesting look into what one can do with the free video features.

Overall, Canva is a gentle intro to video editing. The downside is that many others are using it to create content as well, so you might produce something that looks similar to another creator’s content. Of course, a lot of people use Instagram’s filters, and produce fairly unique content, so while it’s something to keep in mind, it’s not a dealbreaker.

OpenShot

My husband uses OpenShot. It’s free for Windows, Mac and Linux, and is an easier program to learn than some other apps out there, though it does have its frustrations and limitations. He uses it to create short music video clips, then transfers them to Da Vinci Resolve for filters.

If you’re a beginner interested in making book trailers, this isn’t a bad product to try.

VSDC

VSDC offers a video suite that includes screen recording and video capture software. It is an easier-to-learn freemium app. The video editor pro version is only $19.99, so if you try it out and find you like it, but need chroma key, masking and other features, it’s on the cheaper end of the spectrum.

Da Vinci Resolve

Da Vinci Resolve is for Windows, Mac and Linux, and has a ton of free features for video editing. Yes, you get more effects if you pay for the pro version, but if you are making simple tutorial videos, free will beyond suffice.

Did I mention, Da Vinci Resolve is free? It’s one of the industry-standard apps for editing video, and it is awesome. You get a lot for free. If you’re interested in a more advanced product for creating a professional tutorial or author introduction video, definitely look into Resolve.

For someone on a budget, the pro version is spendy, and probably out of reach at $295, but that’s a one-time payment for a lifetime of use. In this, Resolve is WAY cheaper than Adobe’s subscription-based model.

When Creative Cloud apps crash-dived into snail-on-ice slow in 2021, I tried Resolve and was very impressed. Yes, there is a learning curve, but there are many, many videos and tutorials out there for you to watch/read. It’s easier to pick up, if you have previous experience with video apps. If you are planning to create a series of tutorials or use more video in your advertising, Resolve is worth a look.

3D and Misc Apps

There are other free and inexpensive apps out there that can help you in your video creation. While they are not video editing apps, they can provide an interesting addition to your video toolset.

Blender

Ambady Sasi from Pixabay This pic made me smile ūüôā

Blender is an all-in-one completely free 3D app for Windows, Mac and Linux. And it is awesome. More and more studios are using it, and if you plan to dabble in 3D, see if it’s right for you, there is no better program to start with.

I’m serious about that; Maya’s like $1700 a year. Studios pay that–and luckily, you don’t have to! You get quality without the price tag.

Blender does it all, from modeling to adding texture/material to lighting to animation and rendering it all. If you are a little hesitant about 3D, check out Blender Guru’s donut tutorial. He teaches you what features do, and how they work with each other. He’s easy to understand, which puts uncertain newbies at ease (yeah, I watched the whole thing a couple of times. There are other videos out there that fall into the “I did this donut in two seconds unlike Blender Guru” category, but they aren’t interested in teaching. They’re interested in being trolls).

Blender has a ton of fan support. There are numerous add-ons, pre-made models and 3D objects for you to use. You can check out sites like BlenderKit, SketchFab, TurboSquid and the like (but make certain your choices are free to use. Many creators sell their models, textures and add-ons, and you don’t want to use one for commercial use that isn’t intended for commercial use).

Now, the caveat: 3D is tough on your computer. There’s no getting around that. Make certain your specs can manage it. Even on a brand-new lappy, if it’s cheap, it probably can’t handle 3D. Even if it technically can, be aware, without graphics card capabilities, renders take forever. It’s a downside to 3D, but new technologies are on the horizon and will hopefully make it easier to work with.

Flowscape

I use Flowscape all the time, for stills and video. It can be downloaded directly from itch.io or through Steam, and is available for Windows and Mac.

Painting I made for a Wellspring World article on caravans. Yes, Flowscape is great for worldbuilding, too!

PixelForest had the idea of a game that painted with a 3D brush. The program has pre-made models (though you can import others if you wish) that you select, then spread across the landscape. You can create beautiful settings with a few clicks.

Why do I mention Flowscape? It’s easy to use, cheap (I bought it for $10 on itch.io, and added a tip. PixelForest’s the single developer, so all support is appreciated), and you can create some amazing landscapes with it. That’s important, because you can transform a dirt square into 1) a cool map for your book, 2) a setting for a book ad, 3) a setting for a book trailer, and then 4) use the camera to shoot a video of your wondrous landscape (I actually use OBS Studio for this, which is also a free program!).

To Sum It All Up…

Video is an important part of any author’s marketing and branding. If you’re uncertain about using video, that’s OK! Slowly work your way into it. You don’t have to produce the best book trailer your first time working with video.

Don’t know where to start? I would suggest finding a couple of pictures on the free stock photo sites that represent your book, then use them as backgrounds while you animate text over them. That’s like making a story in Instagram, only you have more options.

You may find out you like it better than you think.

My next post is going to be on art programs the writer/artist on a budget can use to create illustrations for their work. See you then!

*Cover image by Jan Alexander from Pixabay

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Shiobe Rising: The Wellspring Dragons Book 1, Trouble in Tindrel: The Wellspring Dragons Book 2 and The Glass Volcano: The Wellspring Dragons Book 3 are available in Kindle format. Lapis of Nicodem, a serialized dark fantasy, is available for free at World Anvil. Follow me, Kwyn Marie, on Facebook and Instagram. Check out my author website, and the Wellspring Dragons book site as well as the Lapis of Nicodem book site. And if you like what you see, buy me a KoFi!

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