Lumen5 review

Creating videos without actually editing videos. How is that possible?

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Our Verdict

Easy options and great automatic features make for an interesting and original video editing service.

For

  • Web-based video editing service
  • Impressive collection of royalty-free media
  • Great automatic features
  • Instant Videos lets Lumen5 do most of the work for you

Against

  • No voice over options
  • No image or sound editing features
  • Limited features in the free tier

When you think of video editing, you imagine mountains of clips you have to sift through to end up with the polished product you’ll present to your audience. The people behind Lumen5 have thrown that entire concept out the window in order to provide an original service which may well be of huge interest to anyone wanting to make videos on a regular basis but who lacks the time or expertise to do so.

The idea is simple: as internet content is moving evermore towards video, a blog post may be good, but to draw your audience in, you increasingly need moving images. Lumen5 is designed to convert text into video. It’s a multi-tiered web-based service and, from its pricing structure, it’s definitely aimed at businesses. 

They do however have a free service which is definitely worth checking out. There are limitations with the free version of course, exports are at a maximum of 480p (the Business tier exports to HD), but you still have access to the Standard Library (where Lumen5 sources most of its shots and photos) and its popular themes. Paid tiers also have access to the Getty image library.

This review will be looking at all available options through all tiers to let you see if Lumen5 fits your solitary needs or your business model.

Video format

Lumen5 offers you three different video formats, depending on your target audience

Setup

You start by either giving Lumen5 the link to the post you want to convert, or paste new content into it directly.

Your text is presented on the left of the webpage, with slides on the right (Lumen5 refers to them as scenes). Text is automatically broken down in chunks. As you mouse over your words you’ll see which part Lumen5 thinks would fit in a scene. You’re not bound by those selections and can freely edit the content once it’s been added to your project.

Text editing

Choose which section of text to add to a scene, reposition it and highlight specific words

Once you’ve clicked on a portion of text Lumen5 will automatically look for relevant media to place behind those words. The result may be just what you’re looking for. If not, you can access its Media Libraries and select something more appropriate. You’re also able to insert your own clips and photos, if you have them. Any media already present in your blog post will be available for you to use from the Media section too.

Once you’ve found the right background, drag it from the Media section to the relevant scene. If it’s a video clip, you can also trim it and choose which part of it you’d like to use. You have little control over the minutia of the animation for photos though: you just instruct Lumen5 to “Pan down” or “Zoom in” for instance, and it’ll do the rest.

Trimming

This is as close to actual video editing as you’ll get with Lumen5

Editing

Your editing choices are quite limited. If the selected text won’t fit in a single scene, Lumen5 will automatically create one or more sub-scenes for you. Each sub-scene has the same background image as its parent. If you’d rather have a different background, copy the text into a new scene instead, or edit the content so it fits in a single slide.

Customisation

Don’t like a built-in theme? Paying customers can customise their own look

Other options include being able to choose where to place the text on screen and which words, if any, you’d need to highlight, although you are limited to only highlighting contiguous words in any one scene.

Music selection

Lumen5’s selection of audio tracks is vast

Music and effects

If you need music, Lumen5’s got you covered with thousands of royalty-free songs to choose from which you can search by name, tag, or mood (like angry, dark or happy). You’re also free to use your own. You cannot trim the score however, but this is something the team are currently working on. 

If this feels like too much work though, check out Lumen5’s Instant Video tab: once you’ve given it an RSS feed or it’s detected one based on a previous URL you used, it will offer you a list of possible videos based on various articles. Select one and the entire process described above will be done for you, including selecting quotes from the article. You can then use the video as is, or make refinements to the scenes.

Should you feel the need to add a personal touch, the paid tiers have customisation options which affect your entire video in the Style section. This is where you can choose to add a Watermark for instance, switch to a different theme, or even create your own with unique highlight and background colours, font, text animations (a choice of 3) and scene transitions (a choice of 4).

Instant videos

Let Lumen5 do all the work for you with Instant Videos

Additional features

Those of you who work for multiple clients may see a problem with having to change these settings each time you produce a video for a different company, so Lumen5 allows you to create Brand Presets where all these specific settings are stored. You then simply have to choose the correct one and you’re ready to roll. If you work in a team, you can choose the top tear and invite as many others as you need to work on your videos, speeding up the workflow considerably - for a price.

Finishing your work means having it rendered. This can take some time depending on the length of your video. But once done, it can be uploaded straight to Facebook from the Share page. The other option is to download it to your computer, where you can disseminate it through all the usual means.

Lumen5 really is a video editor with a difference, primarily because you don’t really edit video. The closest you get to this concept is when you trim an animated background. Everything else is just drag and drop easy.

What makes Lumen5 interesting is its vast media library, and its intelligent text analyser which looks for the most appropriate background and content for each slide.

Final verdict

It’s a shame though that there’s no way to add a voice-over to the video and this definitely feels like a missing feature. There are also no colour correction tools, so if you’re going to be using your own media, make sure it looks as good as it can before you upload it to Lumen5. But aside from that, the options are simple enough not to get you too bogged down in the editing, and you can easily create short videos of any written content you might have.