Graphic Tools for Indie Authors — Part 5

Hello and welcome Graphic Tools for Indie Artists, Part 5 of my series dealing with graphics tools which can be used to promote indie novels, blogs, and social media campaigns.

In this post I’m going to continue my review of Adobe Spark, which allows a user to create social media posts, web pages, and videos. In Part 4 of this series I covered using Adobe Spark to web pages suitable for book launches or “about me” pages.

This post will focus on Abobe Spark’s video creation features.

I’ll use the same format as the last post, though I will spend a little less time on some of the elements of Adobe Spark covered last time.

  • What is Adobe Spark?
  • Website overview
  • Using Adobe Spark — Video
  • Adobe Spark Applications
  • More resources

What is Adobe Spark?

Adobe Spark is free, web-based application that allows you to create graphics, videos, and semi-static web pages. The graphics and videos can be shared easily on social media. The application is available in both free and paid versions. With the later you can remove the Adobe Spark logo from your creations. You can find a more comprehensive description of Spark here.

Website Overview

Adobe Spark’s web page is pretty straight-forward. Arrayed across the top is information on the Spark features you receive when you upgrade (i.e. pay for Spark). Below are any projects you may have created in the past, available for editing.

Using Adobe Spark — Video

Click the white plus sign on a blue circle at the top of the web page to get started, then click “Videos”.

Upon clicking “Videos” you are presented with a number of video type options including “Popular”, “Stand out on Social”, “Grow your business” and others. Video types allow you to quickly whip something together as you are mostly altering the elements of a pre-made design. In addition, you can choose to start from scratch by using the button in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

We’ll do something a little different this time, and select a pre-made video type — “Promote your brand” — in stead of starting from scratch. Once selected you will be prompted to supply a name for your video. We’ll call ours “Forseng Fiction”. Names can be changed later.

The next task is to select a pre-made “story” template, though again, you can choose to design from scratch if desired. Templates available include:

  • Promote an Idea
  • Tell What Happened
  • A Hero’s Journey
  • Show and Tell
  • and more
Graphic Tools for Indie Authors, Brant Forseng, @brantforseng

Or, again, if you like, you can start from scratch. We’ll choose “Promote an Idea”. After a few seconds we are presented with the main editing screen.

Graphic Tools for Indie Authors Part 5, Brant Forseng @brantforseng

There’s a lot going with this screen, so let’s spend some time to unpack everything.

Adobe Spark breaks ups videos into a series of “slides” which are arrayed across the bottom of the screen, in the order in which they will appear in the video. You can add new slides with the “+” in the lower left hand corner and drag and drop the slides to change change their order. Individual slides may be deleted or duplicated as well.

Along the right hand side are various layouts which can be applied to each slide. You can experiment with different layouts any time you want.

In addition, arrayed along the top of the layout panel on the right are other options. You can choose a different theme for your video if you are not happy with the default.

A theme is essentially a bundle of complementary colours and fonts which will be applied to your entire video when selected.

Videos may be re-sized at any time. The two choices are “square” and “wide screen”. Finally, you can apply music to your entire video, selecting from a number of royalty free choices or uploading your own. You have the option to forego music entirely if you wish.

The current slide occupies the center of the screen. Let’s see how that works.

Adding Content

You have four types of content you can add to any slide:

  • Video clips
  • Text
  • Images
  • Icons
  • Narration

Add content by clicking anywhere inside a blank slide on the screen. Select the content type from the pop-up menu.

Choosing “Video” will prompt you to upload a clip from your computer. Choosing “Text” will allow you to enter text (using the font face and size associated with the theme you are using). Clicking on “Photo” will allow you to upload your own image or select from a number of sources shown along the right hand side of the screen. Choosing “Icon” will provide a selection of icons along the right hand side from which to choose.

Adobe Spark will add a subtle pan and zoom to images and also automatically provide a transition between slides.

Narration is recorded separately for each slide using the red microphone button at the bottom of slide. You click and hold the button while recording. You can re-record the slide narration as many times as you like.

At any time in the creation process you can preview your video, either for an individual slide or for the entire video.

Content Limitations

With photos the only thing you can do is increase or decrease the entire image size. There is no capability to crop an image or adjust its position within the slide. If you are uploading your own images, keep in mind you will likely have to edit them before upload to get the effect you want.

You cannot turn off the pan and zoom effects — or at least there is no immediately obvious way to do so — and you have no control over the transitions either.

You are limited to one element per slide: image, icon, or video. In some the the slide layouts you can added text to the same slide as an image. The text can be positioned on the image by drag and drop.

In the free version of Adobe Spark you have no control over font size, face, colour, or positioning. You are limited to the defaults of whichever theme you have chosen, and text will always be positioned according to the slide layout — usually centered on the screen with a left alignment (the exception to this being the slides where you can overlay text on an image).

There is no capability to edit narration after it has been added to a slide. Your only option is to re-record the entire narration for the slide if you are unhappy with it. You do have the option to remove the narration entirely from a slide if you wish.

Slide duration is set to four seconds, unless you record narration for the slide, in which case the slide duration will automatically adjust to the narration length.

Music, if selected, will play for the entire video and volume cannot be adjusted, nor is there any capability to fade music in an out, although Adobe Spark seems to do a good job of that with the music selections it makes available. The music volume is low enough so that it does not interfere with narration if any has been added.

Finally, in the free version, the Adobe Spark logo is added to the bottom right of each slide and an outro slide is appended to the end of the video.

Saving and Sharing

When you are finished you can save your video to your computer in MP4 format.

Alternatively, you can share your video. The video remains on the Adobe site and a link is created that you can share. If you choose, you can make your video eligible to be featured on the Adobe Spark website.

Sample Video

Video created with narration, stock images, stock music, and custom images uploaded. Content inspired by Simon Sinek.

Adobe Spark Applications

There is nothing inherently different about the uses to which an Adobe Spark video can be put compared to videos produced by other applications.

Adobe Spark videos can be used by indie authors for book trailers, teasers, author introductions, and other marketing activities.

I believe the main “selling feature” of Adobe Videos is ease of use. While the lack of control over video elements can be viewed as limiting, it also promotes fast production. Production speed is enhanced by the built in availability of royalty free music and images. With a little planning the novice video producer can create a serviceable video in an hour.

In fact, an important application of Adobe Spark videos is that of a teaching tool. With limited control over video elements, the interested indie author can pick up the basics of video creation fairly quickly. Then they can move on to more sophisticated tools if they wish,

More Resources

There are a fair number of resources on YouTube that teach the basics of Adobe Spark videos. Here’s a sample to get you started:

Conclusion

Well, there you go, a short introduction to Adobe Spark Video — a quick, web-based video creation tool, suited to the quick production of simple, slide-based videos. It’s cheap video solution if you do not mind the Adobe Spark branding and limited features (at least on the paid version).

What do you think? Would you use Adobe Spark? If so, what for? Let us know in the comments.

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