VideoScribe has a surprisingly simple editor for as powerful a tool as it turned out to be. As you can see in the image, the editor is broken into a main canvas area with a timeline along the bottom and a toolbar along the top. I found that building a video was painless and easy to navigate. You can use the toolbar to add text, image, or chart content for your video. You’ll want to wait until you’re finished, though, to add audio and voiceover clips. Once you’ve finished your creation, you can export it as a video file or upload to Youtube, Facebook, or Powerpoint. Videos exported during the trial period will be watermarked and cannot be exported as files.
VideoScribe is unique in its ability to support all the functions you would expect without sacrificing the user interface or the learning curve. When I first opened the program, I was struck by how simple it was, and wrongly assumed it would have very limited applications. On the contrary, I found that it can do almost everything I expect from professional animation software. Also, keep in mind that I tested VideoScribe on a Mac computer. The PC version may look or function slightly different, as is the case with many cross-platform programs.
You can’t make an animation without images to animate, and VideoScribe provides a fairly comprehensive library of stock images to work with. Categories range from “arrows” to “weather”. There are two types of images available: free and paid. Free images can be used simply by having a copy of the software, while paid images have to be purchased individually and are not included in the program price. These are marked with a red ribbon in searches.
Once you’ve chosen an image to use, you can click on it to insert it into your scribe (aka video project). This will also open a customization window. Within this window, you can determine how your image is drawn on the screen, edit a few visual details such as angle or brush size, and determine how long it remains visible. The ability to import your own files is a feature that will be beneficial if you can’t find something you like in the VideoScribe library. Just click the file folder in the bottom left corner.
JPEGs and PNGs are the most basic option. These images can only be “moved in” or animated with an effect similar to revealing the details of a scratch off card. Animated GIFs can be added to a scribe frame, but do not have a drawing option. They will play while the frame is active or can be set to loop infinitely. SVGs are the most useful file. These vector images will be able to support the full drawing effect like any image from the basic library. If you don’t have an image on your computer, you can also choose to import from the web. Just be careful not to use a copyrighted image.
One thing I disliked while I was testing the software was that I frequently came across search terms that had no free graphics available, or were wildly mislabeled. For example, searching “farmer” produced four different graphics of off roading trucks for free, and seven paid results with actual farmers or a tractor. Searching “salad” produced hamburgers. Searching “jail” produced only paid results, with no free options. However, you can rectify these gaps yourself by importing a free image from one of many web-based SVG databases such FlatIcon, VectorPortal, or Vecteezy.
While a voiceover can provide much of the context for the images in the video, text is necessary for projects on all scales. It can be used for titles, bullets, notes, image details, and more. It increases the quality of the video and makes it more engaging. VideoScribe provides just about every font you would see in Microsoft Word to write your text in. The only downside is that just the basic font comes pre-installed, so choosing another font will force you to wait about a minute while it downloads.
The editor for text is very similar to the editor for media. Clicking the button to insert text will produce a small window for typing your content with font choice along the bottom. Once you enter your text, the window will close, but double-clicking your new text will open a more complex editor. Within this second editor, you can change the animation, text color, or access the original mini editor and change the wording. Keep in mind that resizing the text box does not change the shape of the text like it would in Word or Powerpoint. Instead, it scales the entire phrase to the new size. This means you’ll need to type your text exactly how you want it to appear, complete with line breaks and alignment.
I enjoyed working with the VideoScribe timeline. Each piece of content, from image to text, is represented as a single block on the timeline. You can drag and drop these to rearrange them. The order they appear in the timeline determines what is drawn first. Clicking on any block will expand its details and allow you to open the editor, adjust the screen time, or play the video from that point. It also tells you at what timestamp that particular piece of content appears and disappears. Clicking the last piece of content will tell you how long the entire video is.
One feature I found especially helpful was the group of buttons on the right edge of the timeline. These 6 buttons have several functions: cut, copy, paste, set camera, clear camera, and a viewing eye for overlapping images. When I first started experimenting with VideoScribe, I noticed that the automatic scenes created by adding content often cut things off or unnecessarily shifted slightly during transitions. The set camera button easily fixed this problem. All you have to do is zoom and pan to the position you want on the screen, select the clips you want in the frame, and press “set camera”.
VideoScribe has one of the most extensive royalty free music libraries of any application I have worked with. There are over 200 clips of various lengths, and the small colored dots on each clip represent a range from a single blue for “calm” to four dark dots for “heavy”. You can sort the clips several different ways to find what you need, or use the file browser to choose an MP3 from your computer or the internet. When you select a track, you’ll be prompted to choose whether to loop or play once, and you can select the volume of the track. This can be changed later by clicking the audio content button on the top of the editor. Audio does not appear in the timeline.
Adding a voiceover also turned out to be simple. Simply press the microphone icon, decide when you’re ready, and your scribe will play in a small window while your computer records your voice. Since the voiceover function doesn’t have any editing tools, you have to record all in one take, which I disliked. You also can’t record multiple voiceover clips and add them together, limiting you to one voiceover per video.
Fortunately, you don’t have to settle for a single take. If you want, you can use another program like Quicktime or Audacity to create an MP3 and import it to use with your video. This file can be from your computer or you can choose one from the web, just like with media and background audio. In any case, the voiceover will be the last thing you want to work on, whether you’re using the built-in recorder or another program.
When you’ve edited your video to perfection, VideoScribe has many options for exporting and sharing. Free users will only be able to access Youtube, Facebook, and PowerPoint sharing options, and their video will be watermarked with the VideoScribe logo. Paid users can export in several video file formats, to a website, and the previously mentioned platforms with no watermark.