Design & Dev Tools

Video in a Snap: Easy Video Creation Techniques

Editor’s Note: This is part three in our special report on “Video for Ecommerce,” where we describe real stories of online merchants creatively using video to drive sales and grow their brands. Previous installments are linked in the “Related articles” section, below.

Practical eCommerce brings you the following “cheat sheet” for putting together professional-looking on-site videos that are easy to get off the ground and inexpensive to produce.

PowerPoint and Camtasia

Poker software reviewer Marty Smith uses the standard PowerPoint software along with a $299 software called Camtasia Studio for his online poker instructional videos.

“When I record, it’s in two stages: I record the actual visual interaction — what happens in my online poker tournaments — and then pick out specific hands to reanalyze them and record the audio,” Smith said. “Camtasia works within the monitor to record the audio and everything that’s on my screen,” including PowerPoint text that illustrates each point. He sends these free tutorials to email subscribers and sells corresponding reports and products referenced in each video.

End result? 820,000 video views on YouTube, 26,000 Channel Views and 526 YouTube subscribers. “Within a year of putting on my first video, I’m earning a full-time income,” Smith said. “I attribute those videos to adding to a lot of new subscribers.”

Manufacturer supplied video

There are multiple ways to sell visitors on ecommerce products using short demonstration videos to highlight features, benefits or usability. Electronics manufacturer JVC is one of hundreds of manufacturers that not only produce video of their products but also distribute the video to online retailers. “We have 360-degree-spin videos of our products running right now on retailers’ websites, such as BestBuy and Circuit City,” said Allan Holland, senior national product specialist manager of JVC’s America Consumer Video Division. “Most of us manufacturers use a third party that specializes in etailer distribution. We use For the customer it seems like it’s on the retailer’s site, but it’s housed on SellPoint’s hard drive.” Third-party distributors also include NYC-based WebCollage and Seattle-based Vendaria Media.

Point and shoot your own video

For some products, a demo can be as easy as simply videotaping the product in action. Take this video produced by to promote its remote control zombies.

“It has a very specific zombie gate and groans when it walked… the only way to showcase that was with a video,” said Marketing Director David Wahl, who used a Cannon Sure Shot and the movie editing software that came with his Macintosh computer. “We did it as soon as the product arrived, and it was posted in a lot of the zombie discussion sites. A lot of sales were tied to the video.”

Test or compare products

From a “serious” juice-box taste test, like this one from, to the tongue-in-cheek “Zombie vs. Lederhosen” competition from ArchieMcPhee, product comparisons are a simple way to incorporate and promote multiple products in one viewer-enticing informational video.

User-initiated video

Some etailers are encouraging users to create their own video reviews. Resulting videos can be posted directly to a “video review” section of an etailers website, solicited as entries into a special contest, or encouraged for general consumption at YouTube or other video-sharing sites.

“Few retailers are allowing the unedited, self-policed, shopper-generated content that appears to drive increased sales,” found a survey of 45 etailers conducted in May by Cisco for its EBSG Ecommerce Survey. According to Cisco’s study, etailers that do allow user-initiated video see a corresponding upswing in brand-loyalty and future profits. Meanwhile, professional review sites such as CNET provide ready-made video reviews that can be downloaded or embedded in any site that sells those products online.

Photo collage

Streaming video need not be the only way to incorporate video-style presentations into an ecommerce site. Just a few photos, pieced together, can do the trick.

For example, at, a self-service video creation and distribution platform, merchants simply upload photos and select audio to create free, professional-looking commercial-style footage in minutes.

Photo-sharing sites such as GifUp and PhotoBucket now come standard with slideshow options and gif-animation support that enable photos to “play.”


JibJab isn’t the only online site putting animations to work to sell its products. Going back to ArchieMcPhee, here’s a simple video that has helped boost sales of its new brand of underwear.

“We did this as a short flash cartoon,” said Wahl, who used product photos along with standard, rights-free clipart and music to create this animation. “It was that simple to just have one of our graphic designers put it together.”

. . . And Cut

May this guide provide the tools you need to take your product to the rapidly growing online-video-watching audience… no matter what form that “video” takes.

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Jennifer D. Meacham
Jennifer D. Meacham
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