Everybody knows Adobe, right? They make all kinds of brilliant, sometimes complicated, software for professionals in many fields. Their flagship product, Photoshop, is well known worldwide and is a lot of work to deal with because it has over 500 menu commands. Some businesses hate them with a passion since they quit selling their software, choosing to rent it out as a monthly subscription, which can be a pain in the butt when you’re doing your tax return. They also gave us the PDF format, which, although it was meant to be a sort of bridge to a world of peace between PC and Mac products, also almost caused a war.
Now, they’ve really gone and done it! Say hello to Adobe Voice. It’s cool, creative, simple and, above all, it will put a big grin on your face because it’s free. Right now it’s only available for the iPad, but all that will change soon.
What does it do? Well, it’s kinda sorta hard to explain, but in simple terms it makes explainer videos. They’re that thing which often explains news stories these days online: describing a new website or service, unveiling a Kickstarter project, walking you through a point of science or math, begging you to take action and sign up for some cause. A sort of cross between videos and slideshows with a soundtrack, cute little drawings and a narrator whose voice has much gravitas. Beyond explainer videos, Adobe Voice, through its almost intoxicating blend of drawings, photos, typography and cartoons, is ideal for school reports, business presentations, birthday cards, and marriage proposals.
Roughly, this is what you do. Open the app, name your project and choose a template for your desired kind of video. The choices include Promote an Idea, Share an Invitation, Tell a Story, Teach a Lesson, etc. If nothing fits, then you can think up your own. Adobe Voice then presents you with a storyboard at the bottom of the screen. You can use it to outline your story, or ignore it and just add your own ‘slide’ while you work out your own story at your own speed.
To make your first slide, tap the + button. You get a choice of three buttons: ‘Icon,’ ‘picture’ and ‘text.’ The visuals that follow will stun you. For ‘Icon,’ type in what you want: ‘Rebel’ will get you scores of app displays featuring hundreds of professionally drawn icons that match your search. Type the ‘picture’ button, you can then choose a photo off your iPad, in your Dropbox, on Facebook, in your Adobe online account, or else take a photo on the spot with your iPad. ‘Text’-wise, you can type in whatever you want, accompanied by your graphic of choice.
Coolest of all, though, is the ‘Find Photo’ command. It searches the Web for photos that match your search term, offering up a scrolling collection of jpeg photo thumbnails to incorporate into your project. And, naturally, Adobe Voice shows you just the pictures you have the rights to use, for free, a gift of various photographers who’ve placed these works under the Creative Commons license. Once you come to the end of your presentation, this fab app automatically inserts a Credits screen, so that the photographers get the credit they deserve. You may not be able to think of everything, but the folks at Adobe do!
Now add your own narration. Just push down the microphone button and talk. Maybe you’ve never even tried it out before. The recording quality is superb, which is an excellent surprise. The app is so intuitive that it even automatically uses professional audio ‘sweetening’ so that your voice sounds professional. If you don’t like it, or want a different voice, it’s all easy to re-record. Now you get from between 35 pieces of music that come with the app, or you can add something from your own music files. Finally, you can pick a theme, accompaniment for your show, which could be certain fonts, backgrounds and animation. From then on, you can post on one of the social networks or send it out via email or text message. Unfortunately, there is no way to save it as a file on your computer yet. Why I do not know. This is about the only fault I’ve encountered. A fantastic freebee, for sure.