How to use a MacBook to make an explainer video for free

Submitted by John Derry on Thu, 05/05/2016 - 16:08

Video remains one of the strongest ways to communicate ideas, demo products or give people an overview of a totally new website.

Explainer videos are a popular low budget option typically used by tech startups to make sales and increase sign-ups on a website.

They are essentially a 1-minute-or-less sales pitch with a voiceover outlining a problem together with a solution to the sound of sunny music and illustrated with animated slides. 

Do you want to make your own?

The main cloud based explainer video tool kits come from Powtoon and GoAnimate but their cost and aesthetic can be a turn off.

Instead, many Mac users have a fully featured alternative right in front of them.

Most new Macs have come with user friendly applications to make presentations, music and video, which have been included free since around 2013. So, if you have GarageBand and Keynote you've got the tools to start producing videos right away.


1. Script

The length is vital, so keep in mind that people speak at around 145 words per minute, and as a general rule, most people won't watch for more than one minute. Write in a conversational and personal style, a mix of short and very short sentences. Download the guide to writing persuasively for more great ideas.


2. Voiceover and music

Start a Voice project in GarageBand and practice recording your script. Speak slowly and naturally, like you are talking to someone and not reading it.

Pro tip: Inhale before you start talking into the microphone - this gives the first word that people hear more impact and keep taking breaths before each paragraph. You can then edit out the sound of inhaling using GaragaBand.

Your Mac's built in microphone may be high enough quality but you still need to eliminate as much echo and background noise as possible.

Now, it's relatively easy to add the music track from a GarageBand loop. See how it all comes together in this nice how to record a voiceover in under 5 minutes video.


3. Slides and animation

Keynote is where you will produce the visuals for your explainer video and combine it with your audio track. 

In Keynote, you can achieve a precisely timed, professional presentation with a mix of text, images, shapes and embedded videos. You could also import video clips from your smartphone or use the QuickTime feature that few people know about to do a screen recording.

Why not use iMovie? It's a personal decision, however, people generally find Keynote easier because it uses common office software user interface.

There are so many creative ways to use Keynote to illustrate a story, then effortlessly export it in a YouTube-ready video file.


Yes, you can make your own explainer video

Harnessing your creativity and making good use of your iMac or MacBook means you can produce a video and avoid signing up to yet another pesky cloud based service.

Here's an example of an explainer video made using this method to show that it's not that hard.