Canva is a great online tool for creating brilliant artwork and animations. Now you can create and edit online video too, and it is free. Work with a timeline instead of with pages or slides.
You may have heard of Canva and you might have even used it to create great images like Pinterest pins, featured images for your website posts, PDF documents, memes and so on. You can even create short, colorful ebooks with it. It works in a web browser on a Mac, PC or Linux computer.
Canva creates page-based or slide-based productions. You can place text and images on a page or slide and they can be static or animated with an effect. You can even place video on a page or slide. However, it is very limited when working with video. You put the video clip on a page or slide and that’s it.
Canva Online Video Editor is the same old Canva you know, but instead of objects being placed on a page or slide, there is a video timeline. One or several videos can appear in the timeline and they play one after the other. Objects like text, images and shapes can be set to appear at whatever point you want in the timeline.
Instead of going to the Canva home page, go to www.canva.com/videos to create a video. It currently says it is a beta (Oct 2021), so it is still under development. It works well enough to use though.
Use a video template
To get started with Canva video editor, click Browse templates. There are more than 1,700 templates and as with all Canva content, some are free, but some are not. You can create completely free videos by sticking with the free content and avoiding paid items if you want.
Select a template category, find a template you like, click it and you can then set about customizing it for your own production.
Upload your own content
Select Uploads in the left panel and your own videos can be uploaded by dragging them from the computer’s disk. This is not a tool for editing gigabytes of 4k video footage, it is for short clips in HD resolution, the sort of thing that you might record on a phone.
A video template consists of several clips and you can replace the template video with your own video by dragging it to the video preview area. It can fill the background or can be in a resizeable window. You can even have a video background and also put another small video clip on top, such as yourself in the corner adding narration or explanation. You can record yourself using the computer’s camera and this can be useful for short tutorial or instructional or promotional videos.
Audio can be added and there is a good library of music to choose from, some free, some not. You can browse by category or use the search facility. A click adds an audio track.
Add objects to the video
All of the usual Canava objects can be added to the video and the left panel provides access to lines, shapes, graphics, text and more. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of items that can be added. The collections and categories are easily browsed and a click adds an item.
Once added, an item can be colored, rotated and resized. It can also be animated and there are dozens of ready made animations to choose from. An object can fade in, slide in, tumble in and so on.
Objects and animations appear from the start of a video clip and at first sight, there does not seem to be a way to make an object appear at a certain point in the timeline. However, you can play the video, stop it at the point you want something to appear, split the clip and add the object to the new clip created. So you could have an object fading or sliding in after five seconds, for example.
Clips will play seamlessly one after the other, which is great for splitting and inserting objects in the timeline. Clips can also have transitions, which is useful for scene changes between multiple clips.
Export the video
The finished video can be downloaded as a high quality MP4 video. If you have selected any paid items, you will need to pay for them.
It turned out that a free template I tried had a paid audio track, which meant I could not export it until it was paid for. I deleted the audio track and replaced it with a free track, which then made the export free to download. If you don’t want to pay, just don’t include any paid content.
Canva has always been a great online tool for creating artwork, images, slides and even short PDF ebooks. The video editor offers only basic editing features, but it is sufficient for creating short videos for fun, promotions, memes, blogs, YouTube, Instagram and other social media services. I recommend you try it.