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8 Film-Makers for Students: Free, Cheap, and Easy

I love film-making! My children love it and so do my students.

Film-making is such a great way for students to express their understanding and learn from other students. These days there are so many drag-and-drop programs, that even the least techy person can create a professional-looking and imaginative product. The great thing, too, is that many of these programs don't require any special equipment. A class computer, tablet, or the student's smart phone will work just fine.

Seriously, if you haven't tried film-making (whether you're a student, teacher, administrator, parent, grandparent....), I highly encourage you to try it. Really, it is so much fun!

Here is what we love about film-making:

Student 1: The film-making part is really cool, because I like to be on camera.

Student 2: I like the film-making part. It's fun to try out new things.

Student 3: I love to see my "likes" on my YouTube channel.

Student 4: It's better than presenting in front of the class, because then I can think about what I'm going to say first.

Elizabeth's daughter: The editing is the best part, because that's how it all comes together.

Elizabeth: It gives me an outlet for artistic expression. I am creative, but can't draw, paint, or sculpt. I love to create digital masterpieces.

So, here it is: 8 film-making programs we love to use.

All (but one) of the videos shown below are my first creations with each of the programs, so you can see what a beginner product might look like.

Pros: Easy to use
         Can make your first video in an hour
         Students can type text instead of write

Cons: Difficult to use on a computer
          Can't upload to YouTube or Vimeo
          Can't download to your computer
          Can't edit voice recording.
          Requires Flash
          Doesn't save partially made videos, so you must film all at one time. (MAJOR flaw)

Elizabeth's Thoughts: There are definitely some limitations to this program, but it is very easy to use, especially for beginners. This is my "go-to" app when I need a quick demonstration video.


Pros: Can easily upload to YouTube, Vimeo, Edmodo, MyBigCampus, Google Docs
         More options than Educreations
         Tablet and computer options
         Can save videos in production

Cons: Not as easy to use as Educreations (Whiteboard apps for intermediate)

Pros: Fun and engaging cartoon style
         Easy to use
         Lots of options
         Can upload to YouTube or Vimeo

Cons: Some of the options are only available on the paid version
          The number of options can lead you to spend hours perfecting your video.
          Requires Flash

Elizabeth's thoughts: This is my FAVORITE program! It is so much fun to use!

4. Plotagon

Pros: REALLY easy to use
         Can type in the text, so you don't have to record your voice
         Can upload to YouTube or Vimeo
         Cheap upgrade options

Cons: Limited options

Elizabeth's thoughts: This is one of the easiest ones to use. You could easily make a video in 30 minutes or less. 

5. Moviestorm

Movie Note: This is a rough draft of the video I am creating for my gamification for next year. Very, very rough, but gives you an idea. Zombies rule!

Pros: Many pre-made templates and themes
         This is the best program to make movies that will be really engaging for students.

Cons: Ok, so technically this isn't free. It's $60 a year, but it also has a free 14-day trial.
          This is the supreme in non-professional video editing.
          Only one auto-sync voice, so you would have to record different character voices.

Elizabeth's thoughts: Minecraft for movies. This is definitely not a plug-and-chug application. The above video took me about an hour to create, and it was far from polished. 

6. Windows Movie Maker

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly from Elizabeth Venegas on Vimeo.

Pros: Already installed on most computers
         Easy to use
         Very similar to PowerPoint, so it will feel familiar

Cons: Only clip art is available for images
          Limited music selection

Elizabeth's Thoughts: This is very similar to iMovie but offers a little less. I think it's easier to use than iMovie, but my daughter disagrees. Great choice for PC and Windows users.

7. Splice

Video Note: This is my 11-year-old daughter's video. She captured all the images (except the ones of her, obviously) and edited this herself. She had no help on the creation of this. This is a good example to showcase what your students can do.

And here is one made by my 7-year-old:

In their words:

Pros: Many students already have this on their iPhones
         The quality of the pics are really good.
         The transitions are really cool.

Cons: Only available for iPhones and iPads.
          It takes a long time to load.
          The audio is not that good.

My thoughts: The cost is about $3, which is expensive to install on a class set, but since many students already have it, you may not need to.

8. Animoto

My True Love

Pros: BY FAR, the easiest to use. The above video took 15 minutes, including registration time.

Cons: Very limited options
          Can only create a 30-second video with the free version

Elizabeth's Thoughts: There isn't much to this program, but it's super easy to use and is great for creating sentimental videos. If you are a beginning film-maker, this is a great place to start. 


Whiteboard Apps
Educreations (Beginner)
Doceri (Intermediate)
PowToon (Advanced)

3-D Animation
Plotagon (Beginner)
MovieStorm (Elite)

Video Editors
Windows Movie Maker (Intermediate)

Slide Show
Splice (Intermediate)
Animoto (Newbie)

Special note: I did not write about iMovie, though that is a perfectly fine program as well. I just prefer Windows Movie Maker, and my daughter prefers Splice. I know many who prefer iMovie, so I encourage you to check that out, too, if you are an iFan.

What else.....did I miss something great?


Gamification One of the newest buzzwords of education is GAMIFICATION. Put shortly, gamification means using game principles to engage and motivate students. Gamification is NOT putting a student in front of a computer all day, every day

How Not to Use Technology in the Classroom Technology should be used to engage and enhance, not to distract and ignore.

Digitally Illiterate Parents I realized that many of our parents do not have the technology literacy for this type of communication. This made me wonder: What responsibility do we have in educating our families about technology?

Learning vs. Laundry: 12 Ways to Engage the Online Learner The power of online education extends far beyond providing access to non-traditional students -those who are limited by time, location, or expense. It has the power to transform and revitalize the educational experience for the learner.

Outgame Your Online Learners My high school years were the beginning of the end of the paper-age. I first searched for a digital image at 15 (Remember Dan's Gallery of the Grotesque, anyone?),


  1. For some ideas on how to use film-making in the classroom....

  2. so glad you included examples of videos produced by the apps. I would add WEVideo

  3. Thanks for the suggestion Lucie! I will check it out!

  4. You should check out Directr - I work for this app and I've seen many a student project filmed with it. It's not as automated as other apps, but it gives tons of room for creative freedom.

  5. Thanks for the tip, M.E. I will check it out!


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