You want to create some video-slide content for some reason. You want to do it with a professional appearance, yet you do not want to pay a professional’s price. If you ask someone else to do it, you still will have to provide the basic information for the video. So, why not do it yourself? It will take some time and practice like any skill. Animoto, Content Samurai (VidNami), and Adobe Spark are all tools that can speed you towards becoming a video guru.
Your experiences with other programs will determine what you can and cannot do, far more than the abilities of those programs. A general rule for using any computer application is that you do use the features you know you need, not the ones you are not aware of. How many of us have ever taken a program like Microsoft Word and learned every feature of all its menus? Probably very few.
The best way to get into any one of the video apps is by viewing a few introductory YouTube starters, then dig in! They all offer free versions that last at least seven days, so make sure you have time when you start the trial offers.
Table of Contents
The genius of this program is its simplicity. You need to do some practice runs to get a decent slide video you will be happy with. But once you do that things are quick and easy.
With my background in a number of other programs, picking up Content Samurai was relatively easy. I liked the way things could be controlled. It was fun and easy to use.
I discovered I really do not have a very good narrator’s voice. Content Samurai has a number of fairly decent narrator voices that can read the script you input. Current voices include American accents, British accents, and Australian accents, and all those accents have at least two male and two female voices.
This application can make a lot more than videos, which makes it great if you are trying to do other graphics projects like posters, cards, and web pages. There are other options that come with Adobe Spark which make it very compelling to use, like a completely free version, and for participating schools, the individual plan is free for all students.
Pricing Levels and Features
There are a lot of reviews that compare Content Samurai with Animoto. Surprisingly, few compare with Adobe offerings. Perhaps the reason for this is that Adobe is not a new company on the field, founded in 1982, and while it has excellent products, it still hasn’t quite gotten the feel as to how to market them to the Millennials, Gen Y and Z people of today. Animoto was founded in 2006 by Millennials with their desires and needs in mind. Content Samurai is the second software product of the company Noble Samurai, whose first product Market Samurai came out in 2008. The top professionals use Adobe, but you can bet those who are currently making the most money started with apps like Animoto or Content Samurai.
One thing you will notice is that with at least Adobe Spark, the Windows interface and approach to starting a project is quite different from that of doing it on a Chromebook. Both Animoto and Content Samurai were the same for both operating systems.
All of them allow you to take videos and pictures from your iPhone or Android phone. But what you can do directly on your phones differs according to the phone’s operating system and memory capacity.
|Regular Individual Offerings|
|Discounts||Special offers||Special offers
|Watermarks||Your custom||Your custom||Your custom|
|Pictures / Images||125,000,000+||1,000,000 Getty Images & videos||Thousands & Creative Commons|
|Music tracks||MP-3||3,000+ MP-3|
|Video||MP-4||MP-4||H.264 video codec|
|Fonts||30+||40+||Any licensed Adobe font – potentially thousands, and other legal fonts|
|Video Shapes||Landscape and square||Landscape and square||Landscape, square, and many others|
|Custom templates||Modify regular||Modify regular||Completely customizable|
|Auto-intelligent Image Selection||Yes||No||No|
|Script Input||Yes||Individual text||Individual text|
They all have free offerings. But they vary greatly in content:
Content Samurai only gives you a seven-day trial. That includes everything the monthly plan has, including no watermarks. After that, you either pay or start another trial with another email address.
Animoto has a 14-day free account, but it is strongly cut back in features. Those Standard Features include:
- Unlimited video downloads
- Standard quality video (720 pixels)
- 1 million+ photos and videos from Getty Images
- 350+ music tracks
- 3 standard fonts
- 30 color swatches
- The Animoto logo at the end of all videos
Adobe Spark gives you the whole program, minus most of the templates (which still gives more than Animoto or Content Samurai). And if you are a student in a qualified institution, you get the whole thing for free.
Animoto Personal Account
Animoto has a $9 a month personal account for those who just want the standard features mentioned above. Even though you are paying your dues, you still have the Animoto watermark.
Both Adobe Spark and Content Samurai offer team accounts. Content Samarai’s is limited to three members for $94 a month or $588 per year, with the ability to reassign licenses to anybody anytime.
Adobe functions with the maturity of an older, larger corporation; it merely charges $19.99 for as many people you want on a team; you can also reassign licenses at will.
Pros and cons of each
All of them can upload music, videos, and pictures. Content Samurai and Animoto can upload many pictures at the same time. Animoto is easy since it is simply drag-and-drop from your computer into the app. Content Samurai requires an upload dialog box, but that allows for multiple-file selections. Adobe Spark allows you drop-and-drag picture files directly onto each slide.
- There are over a million excellent Getty Images and free stock photos, and also thousands of stock music pieces.
- Changing the text is quite easy, as well as the length of time for each slide. Certain effects are also available. As you work with the program, you will discover shortcuts and new ways of doing things that can really save time.
- Easy to upload photos and music
- Video formats accepted: MP4 and over a dozen more
- Picture formats accepted: JPG, GIF, PNG, or TIFF
- Audio formats: mp3, AAC, and m4a
- Photos can be moved around within the frame
- If you look around, sometimes you can get great discounts for your subscriptions.
- The free version they allow you to play with is very limited, such as only three fonts to choose from. It is enough to give you a taste of what can be done but not much more.
- All the paid plans are billed for one year at a time, so no month-to-month trial amounts
- It is not very easy to create a storyboard within the program. It is best to think through what you want to do in advance, write out the text, then create your presentation.
- You are unable to change the font size, though able to change text color, and weight.
- The watermark on the sampler takes up the whole last slide, making the video content program the final impression on the viewer’s mind, not the video content.
It has a free 7-day trial, which has the monthly plan has. But that is it. After that, you either pay $47 per month or pay annually for an average of $33 per month. However, everything is available for you to examine!
Perhaps Content Samurai’s greatest strength is that you can enter in a script, and it will parse the script and locate pictures keyed to words in that script. This is amazing! Put two carriage returns after each line, and it will create a new slide. It will even time the slide based on the length of the script, eliminating all that guesswork. While it may not find the greatest pictures, the ones it chooses can help you either refine your script or give you a better idea of what to look for.
- Images are all royalty-free and in the millions! There are very few picture file formats you cannot upload (eg. raw).
- There are also videos. Special effects on pictures can also give them a video-like impression. (Animoto also has that.)
- Transitions between images are also nice. If you saw a particular transition you liked in Microsoft PowerPoint, you will find in Content Samurai.
- At the very beginning, there is a section where you can write the script. Then based on your script, it grabs stock videos and pictures that seem to match the wording of your script. Some of the matches can be perfect, saving you a lot of time.
- It has a lot of different automatic voice options, both male and female, in case you don’t want to use your own voice.
- It uploads mp3, AAC, m4a, WAV, and AIFF.
- Individual slide timings are not as easy to control as in Animoto.
- Adobe Spark has a lot of features that are totally free.
- It can also do web pages and graphics makes it a true winner for a person who has other types of graphics needs.
- This has the ability to control and edit video clips not in the other two apps.
- There are probably very few audio/visual file formats not able to be used.
- Sources of media are greatest from Adobe Spark: “Upload photo,” “Find free photos,” “Adobe Stock,” “Creative Cloud,” “Lightroom,” “Connect to Dropbox,” “Connect to Google Photos,” and “Connect to Google Drive.” You can also drag-and-drop a photo onto the slide from your own sources’ drives.
- The free version watermark is less obnoxious than the one of Animoto.
- Why get Adobe Spark for $9.99 a month, when you can get a much richer product from Adobe, Premiere Rush, for the same price that also includes Adobe Spark?
- It has a steep learning curve. The interface is not cluttered with controls, which is both a blessing and a curse making how to do things more difficult to initially locate and later to remember.
- Adobe Spark and Premiere Rush do not include huge picture libraries. But it has a set of good starter libraries If you want those professional Adobe libraries, you must spend minimally an additional $29.99 per month for Adobe Stock. However, if you plan to use your own images or another source for images, you do not need to worry about those extra expenses.
Adobe Spark, Starter Plan
This is a lifetime free program! If it has what you need, it will be hard to beat.
Adobe Spark, Individual Plan
This can create rather good videos with ease. But since it is the same price as Premiere Rush, it would only make sense if its relative simplicity works well for you.
The paid plan for Premiere Rush, at $9.99 a month (Spark is the same price), includes considerably more video features not within Adobe Spark. However, and here is the kicker, it includes Adobe Spark. It works on your 8 GB RAM macOS (X v10.13 or later) or Windows 10 computer, iOS 12 on iPhone 7 or later, or on Android 9.0 or later.
Adobe Premiere Pro
This is the ultimate video creation offering of Adobe. The annual plan if prepaid is $239.88 a year, still less than the Animoto Professional (at $396 a year). It can utilize content from all different sources and can run on Windows, Mac, Android or iOS. However, its power comes at the cost of simplicity. On the other hand, you can take college classes on how to get the most out of this. This includes Premiere Rush, Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts, and Adobe Spark.
Adobe Creative Cloud – All Apps
This is for the hard-core creative graphics person who loves to work with animation, visual effects, websites, videos, audio clips, etc. This includes Adobe Spark, Premiere Pro, Premier Rush, Audition, Media Encoder, and After Effects. The Adobe Creative Cloud also includes classics like Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and all of Adobe’s other premier products. The annual plan is $52.99 per month, not that much higher than Content Samurai at $47 per month. Students at qualified schools get the whole thing for only $19.99 a month!
Adobe Spark has lots of power in it. The free edition is not bad at all. If you are willing to pay $10 a month for a subscription, go for Adobe’s Premiere Rush, since that includes Adobe Spark. But remember, you will have to rely upon your own videos, music, and pictures. Expect a steep learning curve.
Animoto can be fast! Once a person is up to speed with Animoto, it is very nice and quick for short slide videos. Just look online at tutorials for those, and they’re slick!
Content Samurai is hands-down the winner for me, supposing I could afford it! I love the ability to enter a script, and it will intelligently do so many things for you. Its automated narrations are not great, but relative to my own voice, they are a vast improvement!
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.