Sunday, September 18, 2011

14 Free and Simple Digital Media Tools

Creating digital media for teaching or for students to create to display their learning is easy given free tools online for doing so. I am copying and pasting below a post about 14 Free and Simple Digital Media Tools  that I found online. The list includes description of each tool and has the tools organized by headings. Let us know if you have used any of these tools, and if so, what you thought of them. If you want to explore some that you have not used, what would they be? This list was prepared  | By   and appeared on the Mind/Shift: How We Learn, website sponsored by NPR. I have copied the text directly and assume no responsibility for any inaccuracies, but thank Sara Bernard for compiling this descriptive list. 

Audacity: A simple, yet very effective, open-source multi-track audio editing software. You can import audio files, chop them up, fade them in and out, or use more advanced editing features, then export the entire project as an MP3 or WAV file. Audacity can be used with Windows, Mac, and Linux, is compatible with a variety of audio file formats, and can even convert analog audio to digital.
Wavosaur: Although it only works on Windows operating systems and is barely half a megabyte in size, Wavosaur still has some pretty advanced features, like cross-fade loops, vocal removal, batch processing, and more.
Ardour: Only designed for Mac and Linux, but crammed full of advanced features, this one might be a bit more complex to navigate. Called a “digital audio workstation” suitable for professionals, users can record, mix, and edit their audio cost-free – and consult the support feature if they get stuck.
WavePad: Another full-featured audio editor full of effects like echo, amplify, or text-to-speech and voice-changer functions. It’s also compatible with the full range of audio and music file formats. The free version is only available for Macs, however.

Pixlr: Very popular and user-friendly, Pixlr lets you upload photos from your computer and edit them right in your browser. There are no downloads necessary, unless you want to grab and edit screenshots using Pixlr Grabber. For simple, one-click edits, try Pixlr Express; for “retro vintage” effects, visit Pixlr-o-matic.
Picasa: Google’s photo editing tool, Picasa is a free download, runs on every operating system, and allows any number of simple editing and organizing features. Reduce redeye, crop, retouch, make a slideshow, and batch upload, or share photos using Picasa Web Albums.
Picnik: Edit photos online with this browser-based software; no downloads required here, either. Picnik, like Pixlr, has a lively, upbeat interface and offers access to special effects as well as simple edits like cropping and color retouching. For more advanced features, users can upgrade to the Premium version for a small fee per month.
MovieMaker: The Microsoft version of Apple’s iMovie, MovieMaker is a simple video editing software for Windows that turns photos and video clips into polished digital movies, using special effects, transitions, captions, sharing features, and more.
Cinefx: An open-source digital media player and editor, Cinefx is compatible on both Windows and Mac operating systems and lets users navigate simple, yet professional, video editing features and add a bunch of special effects.
MovieStorm: If you want to create 3D animated movies, this is the free download for you. MovieStorm’s goal is to make 3D animation accessible to teachers and students, businesses, and amateur filmmakers, so it’s easy to use, but full of high-quality, industry-standard features.
StoryBoard Pro: Designed specifically for students and teachers by Bill Bierden, an Apple Distinguished Educator, StoryBoard Pro allows users to plan ahead for their video projects. Although it’s not exactly about importing video footage and editing (it’s more of a precursor to that), students can enter shot descriptions, planned lengths, and editing order, create and print storyboards, and upload a variety of media to illustrate each shot.
PhotoStory:  A free, Windows-only audio slide show software that allows users to upload photos and audio and add captions, narration, and transitions to make a smooth multimedia piece. When it’s done, it’s exportable as a Windows Media Video (WMV) file.
Animoto: A very simple video or photo slide show software that’s excellent for beginners. It can automatically sync up with Facebook, Flickr, Photobucket, SmugMug, and Picasa albums and allows users to upload music or select from Animoto’s audio archive. Only the Lite version is free, however, which means that users can only create 30-second slide shows. Still, upgrading to Plusis only $5 a month or $30 a year.
PhotoPeach: Also very simple – perhaps even simpler – PhotoPeach offers users the ability to upload and arrange photos, add music and captions, and share on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog.


Kate said...

I have used MovieMaker on my pc. It is very simple to use. Basically a drag and drop after you have imported your photos into the program. You can have still photos along with video. You can also add audio to your project. The audio track is very user friendly in the fact that it lets you shorten the track to fit the slides you have. There are transitions that can be used to fancy up your presentation which is a drag and drop action. This program is extremely user friendly for creating a basic movie. This is a great tool to use in a classroom because all level learners can use it. The issue would be having the computers with the program on it and making sure there is avaiable space to upload videos and pictures.I recommend a beginner using this program.

Christine said...

I have used Picnik to edit and "mess around" with photos. I have mostly used the app on Facebook, which simply links to their website. I enjoy it and feel as though it is a fun tool to use. I think students would enjoy manipulating photos as well! The downside is that some of the really neat features within the website are premium only- and I am not sure of the cost of the subscription. I do remember not being interested in spending that much money!

I have used Photostory in the past as well. I feel it is a great tool that is very simple to use. It is drag-and-drop friendly, allowing the user to upload pictures, record his/her voice on each individual photo, set a title or caption if desired. Then, as a final step, an audio track is able to be used. I found it to be quite simple and enjoyable. We have uploaded it onto our primary computer lab computers to allow our students to try it out. I highly recommend it!

I use iMovie for my movie editing at home. I find it very simple to use, moreso than MovieMaker. I find that Apple products are a little more intuitive than Microsoft, but I do agree with Kate's review of MovieMaker.

Jenn O said...

I love to use MovieMaker. All year long I take photos of the kids participating in and out of the classroom and organize a wonderful keepsake for them at the end of the year. It is extremely easy to use. Just upload your photos and music and click and drag to the timeline. They have a wonderful selection of transitions that can be used between the photos. One great feature was that I could easily fade out or overlap music to use multiple songs. One technical difficulty, though it might have just been me, was if I saved the finished product onto a flash drive, the music disappeared from the video. Again, maybe it was something I was doing but in the end it always worked out. I would definitely recommend it to a beginner because of its simplicity.

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