Free resources for developers creating video content
If you're a developer that's creating video content these free resources are for you
September 29, 2020
If you’re a developer that’s decided to start creating video content it can be discouraging looking at the cost of commonly used software for video post-production. You’ve already spent some money on the hardware to record the videos now you’ve got to spend more? Not necessarily, I’ve made a list of free resources to help developers who are creating video content. Before you start installing any of the software below, make sure to double check the minimum hardware requirements.
Recording and live streaming
From basic screen capture to complicated multi-camera live recordings, there are solutions for almost every scenario. I recommend that you use the simplest program that meets your basic requirements when you’re starting out, and then when you need to accommodate more advanced workflows look at other options. Here are some commonly used free recording and live streaming programs.
- asciinema - This is a free and open source program for recording terminal sessions and sharing them. This is a great program that provides some advantages over screen capture because it’s text-based.
- Open Broadcast Studio - OBS is free and open source software for video recording and live streaming. It’s got a great API if you’re interested in customizing it with scripts or plugins, and has well documented resources.
- OBS.Ninja - OBS.Ninja allows you to use external cameras (even your phone) with OBS. It uses peer-to-peer technology and is a great resource for anyone who features a guest on their videos.
- Streamplay - Twitch overlays - Streamplay offers a number of free overlays but requires signup.
- Voicemeeter - Voicemeeter is donationware that is used to mix and manage audio sources from or to any audio devices or applications. This program is particularly helpful if you’re live streaming.
Unless you’re simply publishing live streams or your content is presented in a raw and unedited style then you’ll most likely spend a large portion of the post-production process editing your videos. Video editing software can get expensive but there are some great free options. Here are a few of my favourites:
- DaVinci Resolve - DaVinci Resolve is made by Blackmagic Design and is a big name in the video post-production world. Resolve offers a free version of their well known post-production suite. It’s a bit of a steep learning curve but a great tool once you get the hang of it.
- Apple iMovie - If you’re using macOS then Apple iMovie is a great place to start editing videos for free. It’s got some great features like the ability to edit 4k videos but still lacks multicam editing functionality.
- Blender - Blender is a huge program designed for 3D work, but it is capable of many other things including video editing. It’s not my first choice as a video editor, however it’s free and open source and if you’re at all familiar with the program perhaps its a good start. Blender also has a great compositor and can be used as an alternative to After Effects if you need lower thirds, or video overlays.
If you’re creating content as a developer, most likely your audio requirements are minimal, however that can quickly change when working with guests, live streaming or any audio oriented projects. Generally, my advice is to concentrate on finding a quiet, good sounding room to record in, work with the highest quality and simplest signal path you can access and perform minimal audio processing after you’ve recorded the material. That being said, if you’re interested in diving deeper, here are some free audio tools that might be helpful.
- Audacity - Audacity is a free, multi-track DAW that has been around for 20 years.
- Pro Tools First - Pro Tools is a widely used Digital Audio Workstation in the pro audio world. This is a free version with a fairly limited feature set, but will handle basic audio editing operations. It has a fairly steep learning curve, but if you’re interested in producing audio its a choice. Sign up is required.
- Presonus Studio One Prime - This is the free version of the Presonus DAW. Have a look at the version comparison here. . Studio One is often used in music production but is capable of most common audio editing tasks.
- Reaper - This is a full-featured, professional DAW. Although this is not a free program, it does have a 60 day free trail as well as a discounted licence for \$60, I thought it was worth mentioning.
Video Transcoding & Media Players
Depending on how you publish your content, transcoding is often done by the specific platform you’re using. But that adds another step that isn’t directly under your control. Additionally, you might create different edits or versions of your content for different platforms, some of which will have different video specifications. Media players are a great way to QC your videos and inspect them to make sure they meet your delivery requirements. Here are a couple of free resources I use for transcoding and inspecting videos during the post process.
- Handbrake - Handbrake is a free and open source video transcoder. You can easily convert your videos to most of the commonly used video codecs. It has a ton of convenient device presets and you can use it to incorporate caption files as well.
- VLC Media Player - VLC is a free and open source media player. I use this as my primary media player and I use this for playback during quality control. It also allows you to easily inspect the video details to make sure that they meet your requirements ahead of uploading.
- QuickTime - If you use macOS you’re likely familiar with QuickTime, which is Apples classic media player. Another good tool for checking your videos and it has some other convenient features like basic video editing and the ability to quickly output different audio formats.
Lookup Tables (LUTs)
If you’re a developer you might already be familiar with lookup tables. In image processing they are commonly used to apply a colour transform to an image based on the input data. They are used during the colour grading process of video post-production to achieve a consistent grade or specific look of the video. Using LUTs can be an easy way to set the quality of your videos apart, and much faster than manually grading your videos. Here are a few places where you can get free LUTs.
- Ground Control - 13 free LUTS. Requires sign up to download.
- SmallHD - SmallHD makes professional video monitors and offers 7 free creative LUTs, no sign up required.
- Rocket Stock - 35 free LUTs, no sign up required.
- PremiumBeat - 17 free LUTs designed for footage that was shot using Log mode.
After Effects Templates
If you do have access to Adobe After Effects and are in need of an animated intro or other motion elements there are many good free After Effects templates that you can modify and use in your projects. Here are a couple:
- Rocket Stock - A large collection of free Adobe After Effects templates for free. No sign up required
- AE-Share - This site has a large collection After Effects templates as well as a wide range of other motion graphics templates. Sign up required.
As a developer, your content probably won’t require a ton of stock footage if any. Depending on your content, screen capture and talking head shots are usually the norm. However there may be a time when you need some other footage to get your point across and support your ideas, or just to be creative. Stock footage can help here, saving you the time and money of filming things yourself. Here is a list of sites that offer free stock videos.
- pixabay - Pixabay has a large collection of high quality stock videos.
- Pexels - Pexels provides free stock photographs as well as a large number of free stock videos. No sign up required.
- Distill - Distill operates like a curated newsletter, sign up and every 10 days you’ll receive 10 free, handpicked videos you can use in your project.
- Vidsplay - Vidsplay frequently adds new videos which you can download and use in your projects royalty free and without signing up.
Providing captions for your content not only helps make it accessible to the wider community, but also sets it apart from other content. Automatic caption technology is improving but can vary with the quality of input audio. For the best results I still like manual captioning, but it can be quite expensive to pay for that service, and time consuming if done yourself.
- YouTube Captions - If you’re using YouTube as your main publishing platfrom then you can add captions using thier automatic caption service. YMMV, the quality does vary, and processing long videos can be challenging. You can upload any video privately, create the caption file and then remove it from YouTube to use elsewhere, a bit of a pain but it works.
- Caption.Ninja - This is a free AI-based closed-captioning program from the maker of OBS.Ninja. This is a browser-based tool to add speech-to-text overlays to OBS Studio.
- Subtitle Horse - This is a browser-based subtitle tool for manually creating captions for your videos.
There are a ton of great free and open source projects out there that can help you create amazing content. In this article I shared some of my favourite free resources for creating video content. If you’re just starting out don’t let the high cost of professional software deter you, use what’s available for free and focus on your content. As a developer who creates video content, if find value using one of these tools consider contributing to the project!
If you’re just getting started with creating video content and want to learn more about the tools mentioned above, take a look at some of the links below: