– Best Free Online Video Maker With Music and Pictures –
Many online editing websites are currently clamoring for your attention. Which one is best? In this article, I hope to answer that question.
The top contenders should share one thing in common: an ability to give you a smooth, engaging video with as few steps as possible.
They should also have the ability to deliver seamless transitions that are several notches above the norms of plain old cuts and dissolves.
And, they should be totally free.
The automatic templates that produce a show in three or four steps shouldn’t throw every strange transition in the repertoire at the viewer, either. That makes the video look homemade and unprofessional.
In addition, there should be a lack of advertising or watermarks. That’s the major drawback with most “free” online sites. Many of them are so saturated with ads, you barely know where to start editing your show.
So, what are we left with?
We ran a test using an assortment of stock images through at least one of the “automatic” templates or “themes” on each of 6 sites and ranked them based on:
- ease of use,
- innovative transitions,
- availability of royalty-free music,
- quality automatic “plug and play” templates, and
- overall effectiveness/impact of the resulting video.
Here are the results, ranked Good, Better and Best.
WeVideo is a cloud-based editing platform well-suited for making videos online. Here’s what I did to create the video below on my smartphone.
- Simply touch the + button
- Take a quick tour to familiarize yourself with the functions
- Click the + sign again to add photos and video
- Choose images in order
- Choose theme from 30 possibilities — only 5 are free
- I chose the Polished theme and one of only a handful of free music tracks
- Click check mark to move forward at each step
- Save with or without watermark (I chose with watermark so it remained free)
Here is the show. Click here.
Desktop or Laptop:
Editing a slideshow at this site on a PC can be both empowering and rewarding, because there is no “plug and play” template access.
I discovered this when I chose Classic theme and waited while the show processed. I clicked Preview, and…
Nothing happened until I physically moved every image to the timeline, then manually added transitions. I then added fade up and fade down and timed it as best I could to the music I picked.
While this process was enjoyable to me for its versatility, I was looking for a “plug and play” template option and could not find it.
Anyway, if you want to create a show the hands-on way, this site provides a wealth of options. Just:
- Drag each clip to the timeline in order, then
- Click the Transitions tab and drag whichever ones you want in between each image.
- Click the Music tab and pick a track. Drag it to the audio timeline down at the bottom of the screen.
- Then, if you show images that extend beyond the end of the track, just right click each image you want to delete. (look for the delete icon).
- Preview it and, if you like it, click Finish.
- Add a title and wait while it processes. Then share as you like.
So, on balance, WeVideo provides a good online editing experience if you want to spend the time to customize your show. If you want something with minimum time involvement and steps, better try another platform.
Bottom line: This site delivers your free show with a huge watermark — major bummer. And the heavy manual editing in laptop mode will rule it out for many users. Too bad. It really seems like a good online editing option — but not without paying a price to remove the watermark — in this case, $59.88 for a yearly subscription.
PicoVico has an excellent laptop application but a so-so smartphone app. In fact, the only reason I’m including them on this list is because I felt you should be aware of their relatively impressive laptop/desktop app.
This site is a bit clunky from a user interface standpoint, particularly on the cell phone app. And be forewarned: when you go to download or share your efforts, they will only be in 360p — unless you upgrade — something they heavily promote.
- Sign in with Google Plus, Facebook or other social media app.
- Click Create Video.
- Select a video style. Again, your free options are painfully limited. I chose the Timeline template.
- Click Create Video.
- Click the + sign to add images – one at a time.
- Name your video before saving.
Bottom line: I was unimpressed with PicoVico’s free video quality and the template I chose in the smartphone app. It consisted of just random zooms into a thumbnail-covered bulletin board.
Click here to see it. Again, I hope I’m not being terribly unfair to PicoVico. You may like it just fine. Just wish they weren’t so transparently obvious about trying to get you to upgrade by giving you inferior video quality for free.
Desktop or Laptop:
I revisited the site from my laptop and thought I had found an option to make my output 720p. However, the source photos must be cropped square.
So, I formatted 20 images (this is all you are allowed) and chose one of the few available free templates — this one called Painted Faces.
After adding the images — all faces I got from Google Images — I decided to change the music. At the bottom of the storyboard, I searched the few free options for decent tunes and decided on Finding the Balance by Kevin McLeod.
Then, I clicked the red Create button and found I was right after all — an upgrade was required for quality above 360p — to $28 (a month, if I didn’t cancel — which I would have) .
So, I just changed the duration on my photos to 4 seconds from 5 (they DID allow that) to try to improve timing with the music and clicked Finalize.
What you see is not all that bad for 360p. Almost makes me want to pop for $28 to render it in HD. Can’t understand why PicoVico is so strong on PC but so poor on smartphone.
Anyway, here is the show I produced on my laptop.
Bottom line: On balance, one thumb up for PicoVico. But only when edited on a laptop — not on smartphone. And, if you’re curious, you can currently get a lifetime subscription for only $79.99 (January 1, 2018).
This popular app has grown rapidly in recent times, due to its tremendously easy online interface and intuitive video-making capabilities.
It took about 30 seconds to download and install my Slide.ly app. Then another 30 seconds to pick the 20 photos I wanted from a folder of images I had previously created from Google Images.
I could also have accessed any of my other photos or videos + imported from Facebook or any number of other social media accounts.
In short order then, I quickly picked a theme (1 of about a dozen) and music (some excellent choices from their library), clicked the Next arrow and waited about a minute for the show to be created.
Bada Boom, Bada Bing. Done in under 3 minutes and ready to share or download. Only downside was no option to sync the photos with the music.
But that’s minor. It gives a cool zoom in effect that crops pretty well to fill the frame.
Desktop or Laptop:
No need to download anything here. I just went to the website and clicked the blue Create button.
I then clicked Create Slide.ly Show from the dropdown menu. Then I uploaded images from my laptop, all preformatted to 16:9 widescreen. All were from Google Images Creative Commons selection.
Next, I selected the 30 images I wanted, in order, and they were placed in the tray at the bottom. I could then sort them and even choose one as my cover image. Then I clicked Next.
Here I was given a selection of YouTube songs by popular artists. But if you choose one of them, a thumbnail of the song is placed in the lower corner of your video. So I elected to upload a free acoustic guitar riff I had previously downloaded from YouTube as an MP3.
Finally, I selected the Zoom theme (there are four to choose from) and moved the Slow/Fast slider at the bottom until the images seemed to be changing on the beat. And I clicked Music instead of Photos to determine duration of the video. That way it ends when the music fades.
Only problem was no fade to black at the end. Five points off.
Overall, however, this is a good option for spicing up some photos you want to share on Facebook or send to friends — or any of a half dozen other sharing options, including embedding in your website (if you have one). Click the 3 tiny dots to the left of the Facebook icon to get all sharing options.
And, best of all, no watermark. PS I’ve now noticed a slight hitch near the beginning of the show. I’m not going to bother trying to get rid of it.
Here’s the Laptop show from Slide.ly.
Bottom line: A reasonably good show without a watermark. The limited options are a drawback but not so much that I wouldn’t give them a try. Cost if you wanted more than this one free show? An eye-opening $49/month.
Photosnack makes video slideshow creation simple and enjoyable — really one of the best free sites for social sharing.
To begin, just open your photos folder –– or visit your Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Photobucket, SmugMug, or Picasa account and upload. I clicked on the first image in my folder, scrolled down and held down Shift while clicking the last image in my folder, thus highlighting them all.
Then I clicked Upload and Photosnack went to work. These were all fairly high-resolution images such as you might have on your iPhone. I didn’t reduce them in size. All were around 300 kb.
It took a total of 18 minutes to upload 36 slides.
Here’s what happened next:
- I clicked Next and gave the show a title: “Reflections.” Then signed up for an account with email (could also have used Facebook).
- Then I was given the chance to edit. I could rearrange or delete photos if I wished. Clicked Next.
- I then chose one of four templates (the Photo Slide) and decided on one of 12 very high quality transitions (I chose Dreamy). I also chose a black background (although I had my choice of every color in the universe).
- Then it was time to pick music. I could either choose one of 30 surprisingly good tracks or upload my own. I chose Close Your Eyes and Fly by La Cigale.
- Finally, I decided on a 4-second duration for each image with a 2 second transition.
- I then clicked autoplay for both the audio and the slides.
- The Preview screen lit up and I saw my show running as ordered.
- So, I clicked Publish and got the link shown below.
Desktop or Laptop:
Exactly the same steps. But this time, I decided on a different theme, images and song.
Bottom line: Pretty good show with no watermark and apparently unlimited photos to share at will. In fact, to download this and unlimited new shows is a surprisingly reasonable $8.month.
Kizoa is a site that is one of the better ones regarding free rein on number of photos, length of show, choice of transitions, and so forth.
Here’s what to do:
- Upload your entire folder of photos.
- TIP: Highlight the first image, then scroll down to the bottom. Hold down Shift and click the last image. That should highlight each one.
- Wait while the folder of images uploads.
- Click Make a Movie.
- Next, click Templates.
- You’ll be given a surprising variety to choose from.
- Click Next.
Select all your photos in order
- Here, you’ll be asked to choose your photos in the order that they will appear in the video.
- Click Next.
- Third, click Automatically to size the images to fill the frame. Then click Confirm.
- Your video will begin playing.
If you like the music that comes with the template, and the way your show looks, just choose from the options on the right side — all the way from Link to Facebook to Email to YouTube, etc.
You can also just choose Save it or Download it. But, as a visitor, you’ll need to create an account to do any of that.
Then, you are free to share it. But if you want to download it, you’ll need to pay.
If you want to edit your show — or even choose a different template — just choose Edit from the options along the bottom of the screen.
Then you’ll be given an amazing array of choices — from changing music to adding titles and even a variety of transitions.
You can even move the images around by clicking and holding an image and dropping it anywhere else in the timeline.
When you’re all done, just click Save and you’ll once again be given the options of saving it or downloading it.
Desktop or Laptop:
Exactly the same steps. For this version, though, I chose a substantially different theme, transitions, images and song.
All in all, a remarkably user-friendly free option for online editing. And a top candidate for Best Free Online Video Maker With Music and Pictures. The cost to download your show? Just $15.
Animoto features both a smartphone option and a desktop application. The free version offers a 30-second fast-paced template of your show, keyed to the music. And there is a much more sophisticated option available for way less than a single trip to the movies.
I downloaded the Animoto app free from the Google Play store and went through the following process to create a free 30-second show.
First, I downloaded images from my Dropbox account (I could have accessed Facebook or any other social media account — or my own photo gallery).
Having chosen the 20 images that are allowed for free, I proceeded to make the video. Animoto does this automatically. You don’t have a choice as to formats, themes or templates. Nor music.
But the resulting show was good, albeit very brief at only 30 seconds.
For a few dollars you can buy a much more impressive show and have access to more than 70 templates and 500+ songs. If you choose to do that, however, remember to cancel before the month ends. If you’re looking for templates with pizzazz and variety, it might be an option to consider.
In any event, here’s the 30-second show I did for free.
Creating a more robust desktop show.
The only way to create a show longer than thirty seconds long on Animoto is to get a personal account for $14 a month, which you can cancel at any time.
So not free, but, again, it could be a good option if you’re looking for a show with a wide array of templates and music.
Just to see what was in store with the paid version, I ponied up the fourteen dollar fee and edited a version of the wedding montage you might have seen earlier.
The result was very impressive. By far the most sophisticated of all the shows on this page.
Here’s how to create your own show, based on this model.
- Go to Animoto.com and sign up for a trial account (Personal).
- Second, click Create.
- Click All (on the Themes/Template page).
- Scroll down and click on the “Mode” Template. Then click Create Video. You’ll be taken to the main storyboard screen.
- Next, choose either the song that comes up or choose another.
- Here’s the best way to make this particular template work best:
- Click the Gear icon in the upper right corner of the storyboard. This will change the timing of the slides to fit the music length exactly.
- Slide the Image Pacing bar one dot to the left of center. Then click Auto to enable the automatic pacing of the images to the song. Click Save.
- Back in the Storyboard screen, click the + sign and add a Text slide. Leave it blank and click Save.
- Add another Text slide, but on this one add a title for your show.
Next, begin adding images in order
- Click the next + sign and add a photo from your computer folder.
- Then, simply alternate Text and Photo slides.
- Finish with your strongest image, then add a blank slide to end the show.
- Watch the template perform its magic and, if you’re not happy with the result, click Continue Editing and rearrange the photos by dragging them to whatever new place you’d like.
- Click Preview again as often as needed.
Produce the final video
- Give your video a title.
- Choose a cover image.
- Then, on that screen to the right, check 720p and 1080p for highest quality HD output.
- Click Finish at the bottom of that screen.
- The show will play completely through, probably twice. If all is okay, scroll down and click Download 1080p MP4.
- Right click the downloaded file, then move it from Downloads to the folder of your choice.
- Finally, burn it to a DVD or put it on a thumb drive.
And here’s a link to Animoto, in case you want to produce another show.
By the way, for anyone who’s wondering:
What laptop might be best to create these and other video presentations? Created either for yourself or as a lucrative side business — here’s my recommendation. It’sa newer version of the laptop I use day in and day out. It has everything you need to edit and produce ultra high-quality HD, 4G videos that friends and business associates will praise.
For a step by step guide to setting up your own video production and editing business, bookmark this site and visit early in January. I’ll share everything I know to get you on the road to success.
My Top 6 recommendations for free online editing. Please let me know in the Comments if you have other sites you feel are worth mentioning.