Kapwing – Enabling Digital Storytelling


Lots of people have asked me about the tools I use to create my video content. Kapwing is one of them. There’s a few others. Over the coming weeks I will give you a little review of each of them. Some are totally free. Some, freemium. And some are just straight up paid.

Kapwing describes itself as ‘an online video creation and editing platform for modern creators.’ I guess that’s me. A modern creator. J But the one word here that was cause for pause for me was online. For me, online still conjures up visions of being tied to my laptop. And that’s not what I wanted. Indeed, the key criteria for me for any tool I was going to use was that it had to work for me on mobile. And when I say mobile, I really mean my iPhone. I don’t even want the hassle of having to pull out my iPad. My fears were misplaced. Kapwing is online, but its website it nicely optimised for mobile. I pretty much get the same functionality and ease of use from the mobile site as I do from the full web version.

Digital Storytelling

The mission of Kapwing founders Julia Enthoven and Eric Lu is to ‘enable digital storytelling’. Clear enough. This pair of ex-Googlers (so we can assume they’re pretty clever) started Kapwing as a solution to create video memes. Since then, in response to feedback from their users, they’ve built out a number of additional features. Most significantly for me, they built a feature to add subtitles to video. Finally! I’ve been looking for this feature for a long time. Every time I think I’ve found a solution, something is missing. Maybe it’s not usable on mobile. Maybe it doesn’t provide auto-translation. Or maybe the editing process is just too clunky. But I tried Kapwing…and it just worked.

Video Rules The World

According to a recent report on SocialMediaToday, 100 million hours of video content is consumed on Facebook – every day! 40% of users take some kind of action after watching a video ad. Even 85% of Twitter users watch videos on the platform. And staggeringly, social videos are shared 1200% more than text posts and image posts combined. Video matters. That’s why I decided to start doing it.

But here’s the statistic that kept bothering me… 85% of videos watched on Facebook are without sound. And you can bet your bottom dollar that the same kind of numbers apply to the other social platforms too. That means they have no way of knowing what you’re actually saying unless… you add subtitles to your video. It makes sense. Often times people are consuming social videos in public places (or at work) and so they don’t want the sound on. I do the same thing myself. So I know I need subtitles on my videos if I want more people to consume them. But I just couldn’t find a good way to do it that didn’t either take way too long or cost way too much. Enter…Kapwing. #thankyou

Time Saver – Life Saver

After a bit of practise, I managed to get the whole filming process down to less than 5 minutes. Nice. I do minimal editing. Just really a bit of splitting and trimming, adding title pages and music clip at the end. That whole process, usually takes me maybe another 10 minutes – often less. Posting the finished video to the social networks (all the usual suspects) takes me another 10 minutes or so. All in all, most of my daily Trent365! videos are done and dusted in about 30 minutes. But that’s without any captions or subtitles. Every time I tried to add that, it would take me another 30 minutes. Too Long.

But now, with Kapwing, just upload my edited video into their mobile-optimised web site. My videos are only 2-3 minutes long, but the process is still quick. Around 45 seconds.  Next, is where the real magic happens for me…Auto-generate! Kapwing will automatically translate your audio and then insert it into your video in the right place. They have a big selection of languages. And check out the pic below to see why I’m really excited about the Auto-generate feature…

kapwing translations

Yes! It’s even got English (Australian)!

Honestly, my accent isn’t super thick anyway but I have still had so many issues with translation services. They just don’t get my accent right. To be fair, Kapwing is still in Beta  with this feature and it’s not 100%. But it’s pretty bloody good. See, even that last sentence would be an issue for me with other software I’ve used. Kapwing got it right. Hats off! Happy days!

From here, you can just scroll through the time stamped text blocks and edit as required. As you can see in the screenshot below, they keep the blocks of text short and sweet. This makes it easy to locate and edit the text you want. The one downside of this, at least on the small screen of my iPhone X, is that you need to scroll up and down a bit. And when I do that, my fat fingers sometimes hit the wrong part of the screen and take me to the wrong part of the clip.

Though what I love about the attitude of the founders, is that they’re genuinely keen for feedback. I sent an email to Julia and got a reply the same day to say thanks and tell me they’ll see what they can do. Can’t really ask for more than that in terms of customer service.


The False Economy of Free

A final thought on paying for Apps and Services.

We really don’t like to pay for information, tools or services on the internet, do we? Amazon has proved beyond doubt that we’re willing to pay for just about any physical product online you can imagine. But when it comes to news, information, or most other tools and services, we tend to assume it should be free. Or at least, we assume we should be able to find an equivalent option online for free. Even if it takes us forever to find it. The Road to Free is often littered with countless useless downloads.

One thing that I have learned in my search for content creation tools is the False Economy of Free. These days I simply ask 3 questions when looking at tools and services to help me create content…

  1. Will it do what I need it to do?
  2. How much does it cost?
  3. How much time will it save me to get the PAID version vs a FREE alternative?

Think about your hourly rate? Now, imagine the paid version will save you even just 1 hour of time over the month. That is the cold, hard reality of how much that App or Service is worth to you. And that’s before you even think about the stress and frustration of sitting through ads, reduced features, etc., for a free version.

Try it for Yourself

Kapwing is 100% FREE to use. The only limitation is, well, an addition. You get the Kapwing watermark on your video. Which isn’t exactly the end of the world, is it? If you want to remove the watermark, you can pay $6 per video or $20 per month, for unlimited videos. That might seem a bit pricey, but it does give you access to ALL of their 30+ products, collections and templates.

Let me know what you think.