4 simple, inexpensive (or free) video tools for beginners and pros alike

I spend most of my non-Fast Company work time creating marketing videos. I use pricey, complicated software for several aspects of the process. But I’ve also built a nice stable of cheap or free tools that enhance my workflow tremendously.

Aside from requiring little to no money, these tools are also extremely easy to use. So whether you’re just entering the exciting* world of digital video creation or you’ve been at it for decades, here are some sites worth bookmarking.

(*Excitement levels may vary)

Happy Scribe

Without a doubt, the absolute number-one time-saver for me in the past five years or so has been Happy Scribe.

Upload a finished video to this service and it’ll churn out subtitles, transcriptions, and translations in a tiny fraction of the time it would take you to do it manually.

Now, there are a lot of services like this around. I’ve tried most of them, but I keep coming back to Happy Scribe because the interface is both super simple to use and powerful enough to do advanced finessing.

It’s also extremely accurate and gets better the more you use it. At my company, we use it often for short marketing videos—both for captions and translations—and for long podcasts. It’s saved countless hours of labor.

Happy Scribe isn’t free, but it’s also not at all pricey, especially given the time it can save. Plans start at $10 a month for 120 minutes of transcription time, which is perfect for many users. There’s a trial version to get you started as well.

Online Video Cutter

Another godsend if you handle a lot of longer-form videos, like webinars, the free Online Video Cutter tool from 123apps is a really easy way to chop out the dead space from the beginning and end of recordings.

Drop your video file into the web-based interface. Slide in from the left to set your preferred start point and in from the right to set your preferred end point, then hit save. In a couple of minutes, you’ll have a nice, polished video with all the unnecessary bits cropped out.

The tool is free for up to 30 minutes of output video, with plans starting at $6 per month for unlimited-length saves.

Adobe Podcast AI

Even if you’ve created thousands of videos, it can be a crapshoot to get the sound right—especially for complicated multi-person recordings where everyone’s got a different microphone, volume level, and room tone.

Thankfully, Adobe’s Enhance Speech tool works wonders for polishing up shaky audio. Simply upload your voice recording and let AI handle the rest, removing echoes, leveling volume, and generally making everyone sound like they’re in the same room.

The tool is free with an Adobe account and offers up to an hour of cleaned-up audio per day. A $10-per-month premium account adds bulk uploads, quality adjustment, up to four hours of audio per day, and other goodies.


When it comes to video creation, sometimes you need a little help. That’s where Pixabay comes in.

It’s an excellent free site full of stock photos, illustrations, video files, music, sound effects, and more, all for use in your projects.

With thousands upon thousands of elements to choose from, there’s something for everyone here—and it’s all free. Compare that to the hundreds you could shell out for a single stock video scene from a for-pay provider, and it makes sense to swing by Pixabay first to see what’s available.

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