Ever dreamed of a way to simply and easily create video from text, mix in a handful of visuals and produce a video to add to your blog or website with a click?
Recently, the launch of Guide moved that dream one step closer to reality. It’s an interesting debut of a unique, text-to-video production tool worth checking out.
Here’s my test drive.
Basically, Guide lets you quickly create, edit and produce a simple video from an article, blog post or other text content without any technical skill, special software, video equipment or video production knowledge.
And it’s all automated, starting with your text.
How does Guide work?
I’ve tried several similar video tools in the past. They’re getting better but often fall short with poor animation, weird sounding voice, low-quality video output or big limits on content, visuals, downloads and audio. So I approached Guide skeptically.
Registration was quick and easy and a trial subscription required no credit card. Choose from four subscription plans: Partner/Free; Starter ($10/mo); Pro ($225); and Enterprise ($2000).
The “Free” plan has unlimited number of videos but will include advertising. There is no charge for additional views and ad revenue is split 50/50.
The “Starter” plan includes two videos, $5 per additional video with 500 free views per video and $0.30 per additional 100 views. Ads can be removed and your own ads included if they are VAST Compliant.
“Pro” plan subscribers pay $225 monthly for 50 videos, $4.50 for extra videos with 500 free views each and $0.27 per additional 100 views. Again, ads can be removed and your own ads featured.
As you’d expect for $2000 per month, the “Enterprise” plan has even bigger numbers which you can see here. At that price, it will appeal only to very busy, high volume video producers, for example, a catalog with many quick product video descriptions.
All in all, Guide seems likes good value. Key will be your ability to polish the finished product beyond quick and dirty explainer videos.
Video has other advantages as Ken Yeung notes in his post at The Next Web:
“The company says that its process will “auto-generate” multimedia videos in a way that is “inexpensive, fast, and at scale.” Prior to launch, the service had already been in use on 270 sites. Guide claims that the average click to play rate was 19 percent, while the average completion rate was 47.8 percent.”
We all know that video and visuals lead to higher engagement, more social sharing, better learning and many more benefits.
Free video production is a snap
I decided to try the free subscription by producing and embedding a video of my popular post 12 experts share top curation tips.
Producing the “free” trial video was a simple five-step process:
- Select text article: Guide works from any text, article or post. I picked my blog post and entered its URL.
- Summarize article: In 30 seconds, Guide automatically created a 195-word summary of my longer 3,300-word post. This potential narration script needed just a couple of minutes of editing and corrections but was a solid start.
- Edit video: Now I was ready to add visuals. Guide automatically produced 12 video “scenes” with boxes for me to upload visuals. Clicking on a box gave me a summary of text for that scene. I had three choices: pick from a search of “Creative Commons” images; take visuals from my post; or upload files from my computer. Done in less than three minutes as my visuals were all ready for upload.
- Add audio: I chose a free, automated voice for the narration which Guide again produced automatically. It sounded very good and I also had the option to record and add my own narration. You can buy professionally recorded variations too at a reasonable price.
- Preview & publish: Next, I picked the size of the video to fit my original blog post. Guide generated the embedding code automatically which I copied, hit publish and embedded the code in my original post. It’s all very similar to how you embed YouTube videos.
Initially, my video worked fine but after editing the post, the embed code got corrupted and failed to display.
I contacted Support and got an email back from VP of Product Lars Furtwaengler within two hours with suggestions for a fix. On an NFL Playoff Sunday. Pretty impressive!
When the fix didn’t work, new embed code was offered the next day and you’re viewing the result in this post or my original post for reference.
Here’s my quick test drive video to show how easy it was to produce a video.
Not perfect but just 20 minutes from start to finish. With more time and familiarity with the tool, results could be acceptable for many uses.
Guide features made video production simple
Time for a look at the pros and cons of Guide.
Guide faces lots of competition from other similar video tools as well as social media services such as Vine and Instagram videos. But it does have advantages:
- Intuitive, easy to use and follow
- Non-technical production for any level user
- No special video equipment or software required
- Cloud-based production and storage
- Reasonable quality production for the price
- Free version worked as promised
- Good value for paid subscriptions
- Amazing support for trial product, just launched.
I didn’t test all the features or see advertising for Guide for this review but any difficulties were minimal. I highlight them for reference:
- Production quality is adequate for free version but subscribers will get more
- “Library” search did not generate a very useful set of images; use your own favorite image search tools
- Website navigation was a little unclear
- More clarity needed on how to save and preview edits when creating a video
- No control of transitions, size of images, pans, additional script or visuals; guidance on image dimensions would be helpful; but hey it is freemium and automated
- Productions limited to articles, texts or embedding in blog posts
- Free version includes advertising
- Pay-per-view upcharges.If your video went viral, you could be on the hook for a substantial sum. For example, 1 million views could cost $3000 on the Pro plan. If you’re a marketer, author, celebrity or entertainer, it could be well worth the cost.
My assessment of Guide? Overall, a very easy, non-technical way to produce a simple video. I give it a 4 out of 5 rating for entry-level video production. I recommend you take it for a test drive if you enjoy trying out new social media tools.
I see a wide variety of possible applications including education, training, simple product highlights or feature introductions, storytelling, and other uses where high video production values are not needed. Not to mention fun or family productions.
Again, it’s just a matter of expectations by matching your need for quality and control of production against the speed and ability to post a quick video.
Your Guide video productions may never win awards but they will help you inform, educate, entertain and engage blog readers and website visitors. With future new features and refinements, Guide could earn a market following.
What do you think? Do Guide and other do-it-yourself video tools have a place in your content marketing or social media toolbox? Your comments are welcome.
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Author: Jeff Domansky