A few years back, I took a 3-day workshop on documentary photo videos. It was my very first-time making video and it was like drinking from a firehose. Storylines. Interviews. Research. Photos. Recording. Audios. Editing! I spent hours and hours editing. It was torturous work, particularly since I had to work with three different tools – one for photos, another for video and a third for audio.
At my review my instructor was very kind. He gave me an “A” for Effort and some valuable advice.
- In videos, audio is the most important thing. Lousy pictures can make good video, as long as the audio is great.
- The converse is not true. Fabulous photos and lousy audio make lousy videos.
- If you’re trying too hard, it’s better to give up & start again.
I took his kindly advice, filed it away and didn’t make another video until I started playing with Canva.
‘A bad workman blames his tools’
– Old proverb
The proverb may be true but good tools make learning so much easier.
There are many video editing tools catering to a wide range of expertise. We suffer not from a lack of choice, rather the choice of where to start. I’ve been happy using Canva for the final assembly of videos made with photos and movie clips.
Ever since the Market Day video, I’ve been experimenting and making videos, graphics and photo-books. I even roped in Amanda to create videos of our road trips to Canada’s Vancouver Island and Australia’s Great Ocean Road.
Along the way, I learned a few things. In this is longer than usual post, I’ll share a few. Note that this will not be a step-by-step guide on how to use Canva. There are other, excellent resources for that. Also, the interface is intuitive enough to get started. Instead, I’ll focus on the high-level concepts and share a few tips (marked ✔️ ) and considerations.
Everything begins with an IDEA … Does that sound obvious?
Consider this … most of the time we look at photos in terms of their individual image. In videos, pictures are part of a visual sequence augmented by sound and effect.
Videos are built along storylines and all stories begin with an idea.
For example, the Vancouver Island video started with the Road Trip challenge. Key components of a road trip were maps, sight seeing stops and car travelling – all factors which made their way into the final product.
One of the best features of Canva is its selection of Templates.
These are predefined designs for different styles of videos, Instagram stories, Posters, Cards etc.
Browsing through the Templates is a great way to get inspired.
The easiest way to get started with Canva is to start with a blank design and add your photos or video.
✔️But if you’re looking for novel presentation and formatting ideas, you can get inspiration from pre-formatted design templates.
Assemble all the imagery you’ll need and upload to Canva. You can collect these from your local device or remote libraries in Google Drive, Dropbox etc.
✔️A neat Canva feature is that you can view images in Google Drive and drop them directly on to your design. No need to go through the upload step – Canva will do it for you!
✔️Canva also has a catalog of free pictures and graphics. These are great for completing your design ideas.
Audio is the most important part of a video. Unless you are a musician, it is also the most difficult step to find and use copyright free and royalty-free music.
Copyright and royalty refer to the right to use music created by another person. When you buy a song, you purchase the right to play it but you don’t have the rights to copy, embed or redistribute it.
✔️ When you create a video, nothing prevents you from adding any sound track you want. However, when you upload it to streaming services like YouTube or Facebook, audio rights will be checked.
Canva has a selection of copyright-free audio but the selection is very limited in the free version. I found two! A comprehensive catalog is available with the Canva Pro subscription but …
I have had issues with the Canva PRO audio tracks when uploading to YouTube, even though Canva says it is licensed for use. To avoid this, I recommend using the free Audio Library on YouTube Studio.
✔️ A wide selection is available on YouTube itself. You can search on YouTube for ‘copyright free music’ but be aware that some of these are not legitimate.
✔️A better (and safer) option is to go the Audio library in YouTube Studio. The tracks there are freely available for download and use in YouTube videos.
✔️Remember to check the license type to see whether attribution rules apply.
✔️ Free YouTube music is restricted to YouTube videos only. There’s no guarantee that the rights extend to other streaming services, like Facebook.
Now that you have an audio library, the next step is easy, right? Nope. I find choosing music the most challenging part of making video. How to sift through hundreds of sound tracks to find the right one? Short of listening to them all, I have no tips for making this easier. If you have any hints and tips, then please let me know in the comments!
Assembly starts with putting all the pieces together. Unlike a jigsaw puzzle though, the design is customizable.
You can add, delete and duplicate pages; move the elements around; add, delete or change photos and visuals.
✔️I recommend getting a first draft with all the pages and visuals laid out. After that, lay down the audio track and see how everything hangs together.
When you are happy with the overall flow, adjust and finalize transitions and timings.
Canva allows you to control display by Animation effect and Timing duration.
Page transitions are adjusted by selecting the page and clicking the Animate button. Individual elements (like photos) on a page can be animated by selecting the element and clicking Animate. The duration of each animation effect is controlled by the timing count.
The default display action for a new page is no animation and a 5 second display.
Animate options include different display effects -blocking out, rising up, fading in, tumbling etc.
✔️Canva makes it easy to add special effects but too much animation can be distracting. Simple is better.
✔️Pay attention to the beginning and end of audio tracks. To adjust duration, select the audio icon and slide the sound bar to the left or right of the track. The sound bar is the current duration of the entire video.
✔️Ideally, your video should finish when the track’s ending chords fade out.
So that’s it for my hints & tips with Canva. The next step is for you to try!