I’ve written about “explainer videos” on this blog before, but those posts have mostly discussed places where you can hire a professional to make these whiteboard-style videos for you. Some are more expensive than others, but the one thing they all have in common is that they are not free. And they will always require some turnaround time.
If you’re looking for a free alternative that’s really easy to use, you should take a look at mysimpleshow. There’s no software to download or install, as this tool is 100% browser-based and it requires zero technical expertise whatsoever.
Explainer Videos Made Easy
Explainer videos can be used for all sorts of purposes. Maybe you want to use it to introduce your company or product, perhaps as part of your crowdfunding page. Maybe you want to explain a process or help viewers decide between different options.
Despite having many features, mysimpleshow is astonishingly easy to use. Simply follow the online wizard that will walk you through the necessary steps. You don’t need to understand anything about animation or video production, because the online tool does all of that for you.
And yes, it really is 100% free, including for commercial use, so long as you don’t alter the 1080p MP4 video file after you download it. There are also options to upload the video directly to YouTube, Vimeo or Wistia if you prefer.
It Starts with a Script
After signing up for a free account and verifying your email address, you can start on your first video project. You have two options: you can either upload a PowerPoint presentation or you can start by writing a script. If you don’t already have a PowerPoint deck, choose the latter. It’s easier than you might think.
From there, pick from one of the many templates available as a starting point. There are professional, educational and personal options available. Alternatively, you can start with a blank canvas to create what you’d like.
The next page looks a lot like a simplified PowerPoint presentation, except all you’re doing here is writing the text for the script. The text that you write is what will be used for the voiceover. Depending on the template you choose, the wizard will provide a suggestion (with examples) for what you should write for each slide.
The Automatic Creation Process
The third step is really where you see a lot of the magic behind mysimpleshow. It zeroes in on some keywords you included in your voiceover script and pulls relevant images from its clipart library. You can leave everything as-is, or you can edit each slide individually to remove or resize any of the images. You can also add your own.
Finally, you get to choose between two automatic Text2Speech voices, enable or disable subtitles, and select between three possible video speeds. If you would prefer to use your own voice recording, you can do that too. Click the “finalize video” button, wait a few minutes for it to process (you can close your browser at this point and come back), and you’re done.
The above video offers a very quick explanation of the whole video creation process, summarizing the points I described above. And that’s it.
How long it takes for you to create your own explainer video really depends on you. The biggest step will be writing the script, but because you can save your project and return to it at any time, you can edit and hone to your heart’s delight.
If the script-writing process is quick and you don’t make too many changes to the imagery, you really can have an explainer video completely ready to go in less than an half an hour without too much trouble. No fuss, no mess.
What You Can and Cannot Change
For the most part, mysimpleshow really is quite the impressive piece of magic. You don’t need any technical expertise whatsoever and it can intelligently pick out words from your script, animating them in the slides automatically too.
However, there are obviously going to be some limitations. While it is possible for you to remove, reposition and resize any of the images, plus the ability to add your own, you don’t have any control over how they animate. You also cannot change the background or other visual elements to the video.
Similarly, at least for the time being, you only have the choice between two automatic voiceover voices, both of which are male. Also, according to the FAQ page, you also cannot choose a different background music to go with your video, though you can upload your own voiceover in a “karaoke” fashion to align with the video animation.
The Final Product
To test the features and functions of mysimpleshow, I used the tool to put together a quick explainer video to explain the process for writing a blog post. This took me about half an hour and after finishing, the processing took about another 10-15 minutes. The latter likely depends on the queue from other users and the current server load. The final two-minute video is rendered in full HD 1080p and was only about 8.75 MB in size.
I didn’t do much in terms of changing the images, so you’ll notice that some of the clipart is more relevant than others. It mistook the word “post” (as in blog post) to mean a parcel in the mail (as in postal service). It also mistook “content” (as in blog content) to mean happy or peaceful. When making your own video, you may want to remove or eliminate these errant selections.
The mysimpleshow website also provides some other sample videos if you want to see how the tool can be used for other types of explainer videos too. The animation and visual style is identical in all of them, but this is a 100% free online tool.
Despite some of its shortcomings, there is certainly a lot to like about mysimpleshow. It’s so incredibly easy to use and the resulting video really looks professional. I would recommend doing your own voiceover, though, as the automatic text-to-speech still sounds a little too robotic.