How To Make A Promotional Video For Free With Picasa

I recently read this Hub by the incredible Mark Knowles. He lists some pretty convincing evidence that using promotional videos can increase page traffic, and the article sparked my curiosity. The only drawback for me was that the service he recommends costs money, and I'm quite cheap so I didn't try it!

It also reminded me of a feature I used a while back to make a movie using Google's free photo organizing software, Picasa. So I set myself the challenge of creating a video of similar quality without spending any money at all. Here's the end result of my efforts.



And now I'd like to walk you through the easy process of creating a free promotional video!


Getting Started

Many of us may want to use a video to promote our website or Hubpage, but either have no idea how to make one, or think that doing so must be really difficult and require a whole slew of special skills. Well, I'm going to show you how to do it with zero cost and in no time at all! All you need is a free photo management tool from Google, free music from the Internet (if you even want music!) and someplace to host your video, like YouTube (also free). Total cost to you: Zero!


Download Picasa

First you will need to download the Picasa software. The easiest way to do this is to Google the word "Picasa" and take it from there! The installation is easy and quick, but note that the first time you install it the program will scan your computer and create an index of all of your images. If you have a lot of them it could take a while, so be prepared for that - the indexing is done in the background, but it can still slow your computer down a bit...

Need Images?

Since I don't have anything to promote right now, for this demonstration I'll be using some photos I took on a trip to New Zealand a few years ago. If you're making a video for a particular item or range of items, you can use images from the Internet - just make sure they're images you have the right to use. Here's an excellent Hubpage that lists quite a few sites where you can get free images.



Need Music?


There are several great sites online where you can get free music that is legal to use in your promotional video. One of the best sources I know for finding free music is at the Creative Commons website. For those who don't know about it, Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that provides free licenses to make it easy and legal for artists to share their works online.

You can also use a new feature from YouTube called AudioSwap - it lets you add music to a video after it's been uploaded to the site, and you can choose from a long list of music that YouTube has licensed for use in your videos.


Creating Your Video

Now that you have your images and audio ready, it's time to create the video!

If you need a closer look at any of the screenshots below, just click on the image...


  • First, select the images you want to include by CTRL-clicking each one.The selected images will begin to fill up the queue at the bottom of the screen.


  • Once you have them all selected, you should copy all of the images you want to use into a new folder (or "Album") in Picasa by clicking the New Album button.


  • Give your folder a name and choose the music track that you want to include - if you're not using music, or want to use AudioSwap, just name your folder and move on to the next step.


  • Open the Album you've created and click the Create Movie button near the top of the screen.


  • Now we're on the Movie Maker tab. You can change the music track, select the audio options and select a transition style to control how the images blend together. The options I chose will synch the image transitions with the music, and the transitions themselves will zoom in and out for each image to give the illusion of movement.
  • (Note that if you have both portrait and landscape aligned images, you can choose to crop them by checking the "Full frame photo crop" box - if you don't crop them there will be black bars on the sides of the portrait aligned ones.)


  • You'll notice that the first image is a title card with the folder name. You can delete this and create a new text slide with your title.


  • You can enter the text for your slides and decide how you want it formatted. I'm going to create several transitional text slides and drag and drop them between the images. I'll also rearrange the images and slides into the order I like by dragging and dropping them.


  • Now you can play your movie and make sure you like what you've got.


  • If you're satisfied with the result, it's time to publish to YouTube!


Alternatives to YouTube

Remember that YouTube isn't the only video hosting site out there. Again, the excellent Hub my Mark Knowles lists a bunch of them near the end of the article.


Summary

This is just a brief overview of what you can do with Picasa. Feel free to play around with the other options in the Movie Maker tab, as well as the image adjusting tools available.

If Picasa is too limited for what you want to do, Windows users can also use the Windows Movie Maker that comes with the operating system to create a similar style of video. Windows Movie Maker has a few more sophisticated options, and a slightly higher learning curve because of that, but it's worth a try if you want a slicker looking promotional video!

Good luck and be creative!


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Comments 2 comments

johnyater profile image

johnyater 6 years ago from Hamilton, Ohio

Ed,

I was actually looking for the hub by Mark that you had refered to above. But good fortune brought me to your site instead. I am also cheap and do not feel the need to buy something if I can get it for free. So I am going to give this Picasa thing a whirl... Thanks...


KevCC 6 years ago

Good stuff, I came here from Mark Knowles hub being a dyed in the wool cheapskate, I already started experimenting with Windows movie maker. Pretty easy and not bad results.

Going to check out your hub on WMM now.

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