Make Videos Easily 🎥 Wonder Tools

The simplest ways for non-professionals to edit video quickly

You’re reading the Wonder Tools newsletter. I’m Jeremy Caplan, director of the Journalism Creators Program at CUNY’s Newmark J-School. I enjoy making videos, though I don’t enjoy how much time it tends to take. In this post I’m sharing video editing tools I’ve been using to efficiently create shareable videos.

Make a video quickly with Kapwing

Kapwing is a free Web-based tool for creating short videos. You don’t have to download anything, buy a subscription or learn how to edit.

First decide what kind of video you want to make. Then grab the footage - from your phone, laptop or wherever else. Or paste in a YouTube link, assuming it’s your video or you’re within the realm of fair use.

Finding free footage

If you want to practice on some nice free video footage, check out Pond5’s new free footage, or choose free public domain video from the Internet Archive or one of these sites, like Pixabay or Pexels.

Editing with Kapwing

Next, pick from Kapwing’s free editing tools. If you’re making lots of tweaks you can use the full studio editor, or if you’re just changing one thing— like adding music or text or trimming its length— you can choose a starting interface just for that. When you’re done, download and share anything you make for free, with no watermark.

Pricing: Most features are free. Paid accounts ($17/month) can export videos of up to an hour. Videos exported from free accounts are capped at seven minutes.

Create multiple video types

  • Photo montage. Upload some photos — and gifs or video clips too, if you’d like — decide how long each photo should last on screen.

  • Slideshow. Add music, titles and other elements — even import videos from YouTube or Twitter links as part of your slideshow.

  • Filter, resize, rotate, subtitle or otherwise improve an existing video.

  • Dozens of other editing offerings, like adding audio to a gif, captioning or adding music to a video, or converting a video to an MP3, MP4, gif, or gif.

    Example: Here’s a 30-second video of a swan and her seven babies I recorded in a nearby park. (I’ve been visiting the swans 🦢 daily). I made quick edits with Kapwing.

Edit a video like a document with Typestudio

The newest video editing tools let you edit a video as you would a document. The software starts by automatically transcribing your video. Then to edit the video, you just edit the words in the transcript. Typestudio, Descript and other new applications are Web-based. That means you no longer have to buy and learn complex software to put together a nice video.

Quick steps to get started with Typestudio

Create an account and upload a video file. Typestudio, like other video editors, assumes you already have raw footage. Some ways to gather video to use with Typestudio:

  • Upload an online meeting recording. Then edit & transcribe it like this.

  • Record your screen. You can use the free Loom.com— which recently improved its editing tools— or any other screen recording tool to record yourself talking to your Webcam. Or record your screen as you show slides or anything else. Then download that video and upload it to Typestudio.

  • Bring video shot on your mobile phone over to your computer. To do that, sync your phone to your computer. Or add video files from your phone to your Dropbox or Google Drive app. Those video files will sync to Dropbox or Google Drive on your computer.

Typestudio = Free unless you make more than 20 minutes of video per month

A free account lets you create 20 minutes worth of video per month. Each video can be up to 10 minutes. If you end up liking it, you can pay $144 for the year to edit up to 10 hours per month. A paid account also lets you make videos of up to an hour; export a transcript file for YouTube; and style and translate your video’s subtitles.

The coolest new audio & video editing platform that’s actually easy to use = Descript

Descript lets you both create and edit both video and audio pieces. You can use it to make a video screen recording, then edit the video by editing the transcript. Delete a phrase in the transcript and that bit in the video will also be deleted. Descript was originally for editing audio, and you can still use it for making a podcast.

Flashback: my prior post mentioning Descript’s video launch.

If you know someone who might find this interesting, please share it with them. Your help spreading the word 👇 is appreciated.

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If you like Canva, use it for video too 🦃

I hadn’t used Canva for editing a video until recently. Its video features are limited, not ideal for fine tuning details. But if you already use Canva to design other things, it’s handy for an occasional quick video post as well. As an example, 👇here’s a silly 60-second video I made recently to test Canva’s video editing on my phone after I recorded a turkey chasing a goose. 🦃 🎥

Make quick vids for social — Lumen5

If you’re using videos specifically for social media sharing, Lumen5 is one of many easy-to-use options. It’s free for up to three videos a month. Like Canva, it comes with lots of videos, photos and templates you can use to avoid starting from scratch.

Make playful videos with your iPhone with Apple Clips and iMovie

iMovie’s most unique feature = trailers. I like making these syrupy minute-long mini-stories out of a handful of photos and video clips that would otherwise lay dormant on my phone. It takes a few minutes on a phone or a laptop. One new iMovie iOS feature: you can now edit titles’ size, position, font or color.


Clips is a hidden gem on Apple phones. You can create social videos without knowing anything about editing. The most useful feature: add automatic titles. Narrate any video by talking while you watch it, and titles will magically appear, matching your words. The large titles make it easy for people to watch your videos without the sound on. Given that some 85% of video watchers have the sound off, according to this Digiday piece, titles can be helpful.

Quick Conversion Tip

If you need to convert a video from one format to another, use Zamzar. It’s quick, free and works not just for video but more than 1,100 file types.


Catch up with other Wonder Tools posts:

🌠 Improve your slides
🌞 Tools for a great morning
✍️ Resources for writing
and to make writing easier

🔑 … Full back catalog here


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