Playing with (Free) Toys

by Greg on May 10, 2012

There is a seemingly endless amount one can play around with online, and so much of it is free to try.

Along with launching my e-book this year, I wanted to explore more of these tools. And I wanted to do it in a way that involved me trying something new, as opposed to simply joining another social network, different though it might be from the ones I currently use. I decided to start by exploring video creation.

The above is my first Xtranormal movie (if you cannot see it in this post, you can click here to watch it on YouTube). When you sign up at the site, you get free points – enough for me to make this movie, for example, with some left over. Additional points can be purchased so you can make even more movies (for $10, I could make five or six more movies just like this one, depending on a few variables).

Xtranormal is not a new site, though it was new for me. On the site, you get to pick from about a dozen character sets, each complete with settings. I chose “Stickz” and a street setting. Then you type in text and your character or characters speak it. That by itself was fun to do!

I played around with the basic moviemaking tools only a little, adding character motions and a couple sound effects. Each thing you add is either free or costs a few points from your balance. I found the controls all simple and self-explanatory. For additional points, by the way, you can record the script and upload it, an option that broadens the types of stories that could work well, I think.

Why did I play with Xtranormal? For fun, sure, but also to see if it was a tool I might use for a book trailer, for example. Or to use, as I did with this video, as a fun way to add a laugh for others and stay visible, too.

Also, everything we do online can be part of our platform… and adding video to the mix can help you reach a different audience than a blog post. This was an easy way to explore and experiment. And did I mention it was a lot of fun?

Would I do it again? Absolutely… if I had a story that I thought made sense in that format. I learned a lot from doing it once, so it’ll be faster and easier the next time. I’ve seen reactions that make me realize what works, too, and that will help me in the future.

Do you have a favorite tool online? I’d love to hear about them and how you’ve used them.

Oh, and I hope you enjoy learning the truth about poets and poetry!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan May 10, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Hi, Greg. I’m almost finished making the book trailer for my upcoming picture book. It’s been a blast to make, but hard work, since I’m not that facile yet. This site looks like fun. Thanks for sharing it.


Greg Pincus May 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Trailers are hard work, particularly if you start getting into areas of music and rights and and and. But I enjoy the process of creating, so that’s one reason I’m always looking for tools where a lot of the hard work (rights, for instance!), has been done for me already!


Book Chook May 10, 2012 at 11:33 pm

Chortling here Greg, and making a mental note to ask you for a loan soon!

I like Xtranormal. One of my favourite online tools is ToonDoo. I love all the comic editors I guess, but ToonDoo is special because it helps me make single images for my blog posts, as well as longer cartoons. ComicLife software (not free, but inexpensive) is another favourite of mine.


Greg Pincus May 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Yes, I like ToonDoo, too, and we have ComicLife around these parts, as well. I forget to use tools like this – one thing I’m working on – when I need visuals for posts, so I’m always glad to see them mentioned!


Katie Davis May 11, 2012 at 6:42 am

Hysterical! Love this! And SO happy you’re rich, Greg. 😎


Laurie L Young May 11, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I had no idea how much money could be made! Thank you, Greg, for this very informative (and absolutely hilarious) lesson. I am going to dig out all my college poetry now and make MILLIONS!!!!


Gail Gauthier May 22, 2012 at 11:04 am

That was hysterical. Excuse me while I go write a poem. One very long one that I can publish tonight.


Greg Pincus May 22, 2012 at 10:17 pm

I looked all over but couldn’t find it published anywhere! Please don’t tell me you slacked off. I wanted to meet you at the Bentley dealership!


Susan O. June 22, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Hilarious little movie. You are inspiring me to think more broadly about reaching people as I begin my self-publishing adventure.


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