This is a guest post by Natalia Salguero, a Spanish online teacher who has created a YouTube animated channel for her audience to engage and get students. She is going to tell us about the software she uses and about how she makes her videos. If you’re looking for innovative ways of finding students, keep reading!
If you are thinking about ways to attract potential students to your website and how to increase or build your brand and reputation as an online teacher, or as any digital knowmad, you should consider the power of video.
Video manages to engage people more quickly and at a deeper level than regular blogging. Apparently, people are usually more willing to watch a video than to read a text, and when advertising, for example, videos generally provide much better results than just photographs and/or text. That is the main reason why I decided to use animated video as part of my content marketing strategy. I wanted to attract potential students and show them Spanish in an interactive and fun way.
I wanted to do something a bit different to what most teachers do. I knew I did not want to make the typical language video lesson: a board, a teacher writing on the board, the teacher giving grammar explanations, Spanish phrases and so on. These videos can actually work well and there are excellent YouTube Channels with thousands of subscribers consisting exclusively in this type of video lessons. But I was looking for something dynamic, interactive and fun.
I then started researching for programs that allowed me to create animated videos easily, with no technical knowledge needed whatsoever, and in the shortest period of time. There are many options out there, but the ones that I liked the most are: Video Scribe, Doodly, Powtoon and Vyond – previously Go Animate.
The four programs are pretty similar. You don’t have to install anything locally as these are all online software tools, with a decent learning curve and professional results. So, you don’t need to be an expert, anybody can create professional good quality animated videos with these tools.
You obviously need to take some time to learn how the program works but all these animated video software tools can be learnt relatively quickly – not as quickly as they usually claim though! You do need a bit more than 5 minutes, but after creating your first videos and experimenting with the options, you can become a bit of an expert.
If you are interested in creating animated videos, I do recommend you to explore the options that you have first. I have only mentioned four but there are so many different tools. Most of these programs can be tried for free for a limited period – or even for an unlimited period with certain restrictions-, so I think it is important to take some time to do your own research and then test different tools to see which one you prefer to use. You need to choose a tool you are comfortable and very happy with – even though if you end up sick of it you can always find an alternative!
If there are so many options out there, why did I choose Vyond in the end?
Video Scribe is very popular, and it is actually the tool used by one of my favourite online Spanish teachers: Elena Prieto – check out her fantastic YouTube Channel Tu Escuela de Español. She is an excellent teacher and she gets most of her students via her YouTube channel. Therefore, I ruled out Video Scribe nearly straight away, just because this is the tool Elena Prieto uses and I think it is important to differentiate yourself from other teachers, even the ones you admire the most!
The reason why I chose Vyond over Doodly, and Powtoon, was more than anything else the character customization feature. I was particularly interested in being able to customize characters and create a mini animated version of myself as a teacher, and the people that I know. This way I did not have to be on the camera, my animated avatar would be on the camera instead! I could also create customized characters rather than use the characters available that anybody can use. The customized characters only show on your videos so that makes your videos unique in a way. This makes your videos more personal. And being personal is key if you want to engage your audience and make them relate to you as a person.
Please note there are currently two versions of the software you can use: The Legacy Video Maker, and the new Vyond Studio version. I am going to give you an overview of the new Vyond Studio because it is an improved version, which is much faster and user-friendly; the Legacy Video Maker will disappear shortly.
With Vyond you can create different animated videos. There are three styles or video types you can choose from: contemporary, Business Friendly and Whiteboard animation. See the options below.
This means you are getting three tools in one! Not bad, right? To be honest, I have only used the Business-Friendly style for my videos. This is traditional 2D animation featuring hundreds of templates, backdrops, characters, actions and even particular character expressions, covering a wide range of activities and occupations. I am planning to start using the Contemporary style, which is recommended for animated infographics for example, when I start creating content for my future online courses. The whiteboard animation style is the same style you get in Video Scribe by the way – more classic video animation.
How long does it really take to make a video?
Well, it does not take 5 minutes for sure! It takes much longer than that, but the effort is worthwhile, and the process is fun. It personally takes me about two days to create the videos but, at the beginning, it would take me more than! Obviously, the more videos you create, the quicker and the better you will get.
Ok, I want to create a video. Where do I start? Do you just choose a style and go for it?
Not really. before you start creating the actual video you should write a script and have a clear idea of what you want to teach or communicate in the video and to whom.
You should define your subject or topic – for example, I am going to teach the difference between DO and MAKE- and determine characters – how many? Who is the main character? -locations, props – does Vyond provide you with the ones you need, or do you need to import some images or icons perhaps? – and the audio – do you need any particular sound effects? Are you going to use some background music?… You also need to brainstorm plot ideas. Concepts and ideas are best conveyed when you tell people a story. What is your story? What happens to the characters over the course of the video? What is the purpose of your story?
Once you have all this information you are ready to write your script and develop your story or idea. Use your favourite tool to do this. I simply use Excel or Word! No need to complicate things! However, if you want you can choose a proper storyboard template and go pro like the ones you can find here Storyboard Templates
Now we can go to Vyond and start creating the actual video!
After selecting the Business-Friendly style, you are taken to the screen below.
There is a default template but you can easily change it (refer to the next screenshot showing all functions). There are many templates with different locations and settings to choose from. Alternatively, you can have just a background colour – any colour you wish to use. This comes handy as you can customize it to match your brand colours, for example.
I do not mean to show you all the different functions you have available. This is not really the purpose of this article and Vyond offers a lot of training materials and videos to guide you through. Let me just give you a brief summary of some of the cool stuff you can easily do.
The content of your video shows on what is called the Stage. You will see all the different items and effects as you apply them here to make sure you are getting things as you want to.
At the top, you have the toolbar. On the top left-hand corner, you can find the following functions:
- Add a character – an available one or a customized one
- Add a prop – over 3,000 to choose from.
- Add text – this can be formatted as required.
- Add a chart
- Add an audio file – a sound effect or music track
- Upload or Import files. I particularly like this feature as you can use external images and audios to suit your needs. You can also use an image as a background!
On the top right-hand corner, you have the following functions:
- Swap – this function replaces the existing item selected (character, prop, background, template and so on)
- Background – to change the background or the base colour
- Scene transitions – very cool feature to add transitions easily. You have many different types to choose from and you can preview them first.
- Camera – use this to add a zoom effect (wow your audience!)
- Scene Settings -to adjust the scene duration, for example.
Also, when you select a character you are able to:
- Assign a specific action to a character. There is over a thousand available and grouped under different topics including sports, travel, emotions, working, shopping and many more.
- Assign a specific expression to the character (angry, confused, happy etc)
- Dialogue- Add a voice to your character. For this, you should use a good quality USB microphone. Another wow feature, by the way, is the automatic lip sync feature! You can add voices to characters as well as adding voice-over narration.
In addition, you can add different Enter and Exit effects as well as a motion path to characters, texts and props to make your video more dynamic and interactive. Again, there is a wide choice available and a preview, so you can see the actual effect before going for it.
At the bottom, we have the timeline. I find this very useful, as this is where you can adjust all timings for all the enter/exit effects for all your assets, including audio, text and props, simply by clicking and dragging. Piece of cake!
I usually create all the scenes first and then I add the voices. This is one of my favourite parts. It can be a laugh especially if you have other people helping you out as it is my case. You do need to find a tool that you enjoy using because as you can see creating videos is going to take quite some time and effort!
I have asked family members and friends to help me out adding the voices to the different characters. They have kindly agreed to help me, and they are not too bad! I think my girls are particularly good but then they are my daughters, so I may be slightly biased there.
You could, of course, go pro and hire professional voices to take your video to your next level. Vyond works with Inwhatlanguage and VoiceBunny for example. I am not able to advise you any further regarding this though, as now I am not using professionals. Who knows in the future but at this point I prefer my videos to have “real” voices of ordinary people. I believe this also makes the videos more personal, and as I previously said this can make the difference. People want to see and hear real ordinary people like themselves, people they can easily relate to and connect.
You can have a look at my YouTube Channel to see my animated video lessons here Highway to Spanish, and this is the link for the tool in case you are interested in this software, or you want to investigate a little further Vyond
I do encourage you to explore the power of Video and to do your own research, test a few tools, and above all have lots of fun in the process!