With the brand new version of Spark Video, Adobe continues to lure consumers into photographer and designer territory via its creative mobile and web apps. The Spark collection, featuring the newly updated Spark Video (now called Adobe Express), is targeted not to the advanced Photoshop/Lightroom crowd, but to just plain folks—kids, teachers, neighbors, community activists, and small businesses who have something to say.
Adobe Express (which began life as Adobe Voice and then was called Spark Video, and earlier this year acquired its current branding) provides the tools to create a sophisticated social media presence complete with presentation prowess for those without an art degree, a pocketful of cash, or time on their hands.
Adobe has updated Spark Video for the web, iPhone, and iPad by adding a video component. Previously, the app let you use a mixture of voice recordings, photos and icons, and a soundtrack to quickly create an inspiring, template-based animated presentation with a combination of your own assets and some help from online royalty free sources.
If you’re intent on creating marketing videos, school projects, product demos, event invites, business or team reports, or just plain storytelling, here’s how to do it with the video-enhanced latest version.
Before you begin, sign in with your free Adobe ID or log in using a Facebook or Google account. This lets Adobe publish and host your presentations, so you can easily access and share them. I used an iPad in this demo, but operations are similar on the iPhone and with the online app.
1. Choose a story template
Either pick a story template or start from scratch. Story templates get beginners started with a major concept: Promote an Idea, Tell What Happened, Personal Growth, An Invitation, and more. If you’re just getting started, using a template is optimal.
2. Add photos and video
You can use photos that are already on your device, or select them from Google Photos, Dropbox, Facebook, Lightroom, or your Creative Cloud space. You can also use Spark Video’s search feature to find Creative Commons licensed photos and icons online. If you are creating your project on an iPhone or iPad, videos must be present on your device.
3. Add voice narration
Adobe Spark Video makes it easy to add voiceovers to each slide. Just press and hold the microphone button. Speak clearly and make sure your mic is clear from obstruction and that the room has a minimum of distracting noise. You can easily re-record any slide if you’re not satisfied with the sound quality. Just navigate to the slide and record it again—the new recording will automatically replace the old one.
4. Working with video
Import video into your project just like any photo or illustration. Spark knows it’s a video file and immediately offers a way to trim its start and end points. Any clip can be distributed among multiple slides and trimmed to various durations. To do that, tap the Continue button (the middle button on the right side of the frame) to break up a clip into a new slide. The limit is 30 seconds per frame.
You can adjust the volume or mute a clip with the volume button. Spark can also automatically align the video clip to the length of your narration. Or you can add a music track.
5. Fill the slides
Each slide of a template presentation gives you a hint of what kind of content it could contain. You don’t have to adhere to the formula, but it is helpful for beginners. You can express your idea with video, stills, text, icon, or a combination. Spark Video gives you four layout choices for each slide: Full screen + Thing, One thing, Thing + Caption and Two things. The first two can include video, the rest a combination of text, photo, and icon.
6. Add a theme
Themes provide the visual punch of your message. You can add a theme at any point, but waiting until you load all your content may help narrow down the choices among the 32 built-in themes. Tapping each theme gives you a brief preview and you can try out any theme you want before committing to it. The arrow on the bottom left side lets you view your creation with any template and music and switch them around until you like what you see.
7. Theme Lab
Each theme offers various ways to customize with different colors, background, icons, main text, and secondary text complete with a dozen font choices. You can apply variations to specific slides or to the entire presentation, though not every variation is available for every theme.
8. Add music
Music will likely be the most evocative part of your presentation. Adobe includes a varied selection of instrumental tunes for different moods from happy, playful, and relaxed to rousing, thoughtful, uplifting and more. Or you can choose from your own music.
9. Tweak away
Just because you have filled in the template does not mean the presentation is set in stone. You can easily add, remove, replace, or reorder slides.
One thing that’s a drag: The last slide automatically reads Made with Adobe Spark Video and lists the website URL, which you can’t remove—unless you are a Creative Cloud subscriber. This is designed as an exclusive feature for Creative Cloud subscribers, but it is currently available for a limited time to all users, but only via the web app—not your mobile device.
10. Share your video
When you’re satisfied with your work and ready to share it, Spark Video makes it easy to post to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, or share via Message or email, as well as save it to the clipboard or your camera roll. Specify the general target audience by categorizing it as Business, Causes, Education, How-to, Lifestyle and more. You can add photo and video credits and author credit. You can also toggle on the optional Get Noticed control that allows your project to appear in search engine results and on the Adobe Spark website.
Adobe Spark Video is free online and available on the App Store for both iPhone and iPad. You need a free Adobe ID to access the app or update, but you do not need a paid Adobe subscription. If you need more than the allotted 2GB of Creative Cloud file storage, you can enable an in-app purchase of an additional 20GB for $2 per month, which will be automatically charged to your iTunes account.