by Eldred “Bob” Bird
Video has become such a powerful tool on social media that authors, whether independent or traditionally published, can’t afford to ignore the medium. In one of my previous posts here on WITS, I talked about building a Mobile Media Kit to make recording videos on the go easier. But now that you have the raw footage, what software can you use to produce your videos without emptying your wallet?
Let me introduce you to some of my favorite programs to help you get started without busting the budget. This won’t be a tutorial, as there are online communities and hundreds of great videos on YouTube to help you learn the software, but more of a “why I like this program” article.
You may be wondering why these applications are so high on my list when there are so many choices out there. Here are the main reasons:
Most operating systems come with at least a basic video editor. This might get you by in the beginning, but there’s not much flexibility with them, and the finished product usually lacks a professional appearance. You need a proper video editor to give your videos a polished look and feel.
Programs like Adobe Premier are great at doing this but take a huge chunk out of your wallet. This is where Shotcut shines. It’s a robust program on the level with most of the budget breaking applications available on the market. Anything it lacks can usually be found in the vast user-supported plugin libraries.
The interface is clean, customizable, and intuitive. If you’ve ever used Premier or other software like it, you will be totally at home in Shotcut.
Whether you’re producing videos or podcasts, good audio quality is a must. My top pick for free audio software is Audacity. It’s one of the most commonly used audio recording, processing, and editing apps out there for a reason. It’s simple, yet powerful, and it works.
Like Shotcut, there are multitude of plugins available online and a large support community to help you learn to use them.
When it comes to managing your live stream presentations, Open Broadcast Software (OBS) is a powerful tool that just keeps getting better with each update. This robust software allows you to combine different video, audio, still images and other sources in real time. The output can either be recorded or streamed live to the social media platform of your choice via the Virtual Camera included in the software.
OBS puts the power of a live television studio at your fingertips. You can do split screens, picture-in-picture, overlays, and virtual backgrounds via the chromakey function just to name a few. You can control audio levels and sources on the fly and the software is preloaded with several different transition effects.
Once you master it, OBS will be one of the most powerful and useful tools in your multimedia arsenal.
If Photoshop isn’t in your budget, then the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is for you. It’s a powerhouse application that rivals any paid program on the market today. This software is perfect for editing images, creating thumbnails for your videos, or just about any other graphics job you run into.
I use GIMP to build book covers and promotional materials, in addition to enhancing up still images for insertion into my videos. The available plugins and community support are priceless, as with the other packages I’ve recommended here.
GIMP is a prime example of not having to pay professional prices to get professional results.
While there are a lot of software packages available, both paid and free, these are my favorites for a reason. They all produce great results, and a lot of support is available—all without breaking the bank. Being open source, they’re also constantly improving.
While they are all free, if you find that these applications meet your needs there are ways to financially support their development. You can also show support by joining the open-source communities and giving feedback so the software can continue to improve.
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Eldred Bird writes contemporary fiction, short stories, and personal essays. He has spent a great deal of time exploring the deserts, forests, and deep canyons inside his home state of Arizona. His James McCarthy adventures, Killing Karma, Catching Karma, and Cold Karma, reflect this love of the Grand Canyon State even as his character solves mysteries amidst danger. Eldred explores the boundaries of short fiction in his stories, The Waking Room, Treble in Paradise: A Tale of Sax and Violins, and The Smell of Fear.
When he’s not writing, Eldred spends time cycling, hiking, and juggling (yes, juggling…bowling balls and 21-inch knives).
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