Ultimate beginner’s guide to making animated educational videos for free
Animation is now widely used in classes not only because of its effectiveness in teaching. In addition to that is how easy it is to make educational videos free. Yet for a someone who wants to start making educational videos for free, the process of looking for the right software, of hunting for the bits and pieces to put into a video can be confusing. Truth is, you just have to know some basic steps and tools to master the job, and we have outlined them here for you!
Decide on your goal
First and foremost, it is important to know what you want to do. This depends a lot on your lesson and audience. Are you teaching children or adults? Is it a lesson about math or about manners? Or would you like to add animation to your corporate training? Based on the answers to these questions, which show the function and goal of your course, you may find you want to create one of the following types of videos:
- Story-based illustrations
- Presentational videos
- Videos demonstrating graphs and processes
Once you have determined this, there is a range of tools that are available for free, some only for a trial period, that you can use to make your free educational videos. These tools will be introduced below as we discuss the situations in which they should be used.
A – Story-based illustrations
For this kind of video, there are two approaches: you can either use template-based online software, or you can try out offline customizable programs.
This form of visual aid is often used when you want to try to make educational videos for free despite having very little animation experience. It’s because these programs are made for beginners! A cloud-based software combine all the tools you need onto an online platform! Great sites like these include Vyond and Moovly, which are free to use for a trial period. PowToon and Animaker have completely free plans, although there are limits to the images and sound available, as well as the videos’ lengths.
Nonetheless, all four applications collect all the parts needed to create a clip, so beginners won’t have to! In particular, they provide:
- Video templates, background images, character templates, and sound effects, all clearly collected into lists
- An interface similar to Microsoft PowerPoint, where the elements mentioned above can be found and selected with ease
As a result, you will quickly get the hang of it! With such an organised layout, you can make educational videos for free with no trouble.
Find out more about cloud-based animators here:
How can you make the most of these free animation tools?
Despite the limited time and effects, the programs mentioned above still offer great services for making educational videos. Simply follow these steps:
- Select a desirable video template (based on the flow of the video)
- Alter the backgrounds wherever your story needs it (customize to fit your content)
- Add in the most important thing – your characters, their movements and dialogues
- Complete your clip with sound effects to awkward silences when showing your video
Tip: PowToon and Vyond also let you record your own narration and add it into your video! Doing this increases your presence in the lesson and better connect you to the students.
A helpful link to master recording your voice-over:
Consider this example. Such a colorful template from Animaker with characters that are interesting animals is ideal for teaching children. Catching students’ attention will be very easy using a video like this. However, you also want to be careful not to make a video so long that they distract the students from the lesson. So in a way, the time limits of PowToon and Animaker, 3 and 2 minutes respectively, can actually give you a frame to work with!
Another approach, one more suitable for those who have some experience in animating, is to make your video offline. If you already have access to programs like Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Effect, you can use them instead of subscribing to a cloud-based editor.
This would likely require harder work, since unlike online programs, there is no library of different categories of effects provided. In other words, you have to look for backgrounds, characters and movements (these are called vectors), and sound effects from different sources. The search for these can be tiring, so we have some suggestions below!
One great source for you is Freepik. On this site, you can find wonderfully vibrant backgrounds such as these ones below. Many of these don’t cost anything except an attribution to Freepik.
Freepik also provides some of these, but you might want more diversity. If so, give Vecteezy a visit, since on it you can find a range of free vectors that are perfect for young audiences, such as these.
As for this, SoundBible is your guy! On this site there are plenty of free sound effects, from car engines to heavy rain to UFO landings!
If you need free background music, definitely check this out:
After that, you have to put them all together, and using Adobe’s applications will not be as straightforward as PowToon or Animaker. The interface is different, with less labels to indicate what each button does, as shown in the video below, but the concept is basically the same.
To sum it up, it is undeniable that taking this approach will be more difficult than using online software. However, you get to customize the video to your taste and purpose. Another clear advantage is that you actively choose the length of your video, unlike on online platforms. If you need any help navigating the software, you can always search on Youtube for tutorials such as the one below.
B – Presentation videos
This is by far the most common type of video to be catered for by free programs. Almost every software listed above has ready-made templates for summarizing information. Additionally, there is also Prezi, which is similar to a PowerPoint but can with more dynamic designs and effects. Unfortunately, it also only offers a free trial period, after which you will have to pay a subscription.
With presentation videos, the process is simpler, since there will be almost no movement of characters, but only transitions of words. All you have to do is put in your texts and pictures, and then apply to them the effects that you think looks good. Be careful of the timing – make sure texts can all be read before moving on!
On the other hand, while the editing may be easier, you have to carefully consider your audience. When you make educational videos for free like this, you are likely to be presenting to an older, adult group who often expect summarized information. That being the case, you may want to:
- Keep content concise and fluent (start with putting only key ideas into your script)
- Texts should be easy to read and simple (don’t use fonts that are too fancy or too complicated)
- Use a simple, neutral color scheme to appear professional (and avoid using animal characters!)
- Add some music, if appropriate (jazz is probably not the best for a video on Medieval History)
Above is an example of a PowToon template, available for free, that you might want to use for a presentation in perhaps a History or Economics class. It can sum up information for student and is engaging.
C – Video demonstrating graphs and processes
Finally, you may want to make animated educational videos that show a mathematical procedure, or the creation of a graph. If you teach maths to a class, and they want to look back at how you get to the answer after class, then these are the perfect solution!
This is very simple to make. You can use an actual whiteboard or physical objects for a stop motion animation – work away and record! You can even use your iWhatsApp for it. The editing is relatively simple, perhaps none is needed. It is free and easy.
Of course, you can make it more digital by creating graphs and functions on the computer. To capture this into a clip, there are screen capturing software that include voiceover functions as well. One such program is SRecorder. With this tool, you can make videos like those of the Youtube channel KhanAcademy, which are really popular amongst students. Have a look at the example below!
So there it is – these are the ways in which you can make educational videos for free as beginners! The starting point for most of these methods are free, so you can try each out and find which one suits your classroom needs the best. Remember that you should change your tools and designs depending on your audience and the content you want to show. Most importantly, practice makes perfect so don’t be afraid to try. We have some more articles that will definitely help you on this journey. Check them out!
- How to write animation script for video-based courses
- Combine talking-head videos and animated videos for better learning outcomes
- How much does an educational animation cost per minute: $30, $150 or $3000?
- Animation making in education: should you do it yourself or should you hire the professionals?
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