AI video generator: Our top 5 picks for AI video creation

20 July 2023
6 minutes

Key takeaways

  • The AI buzz is all about writing – but it’s great for video, too
  • Videos need structure and sequence just as text does
  • AI video generator tools are making video generation easy
  • There’s still a need for humans – because creativity is vital

By now you’ve tried ChatGPT. (Hasn’t everyone?) You may also have used AI tools for years without realizing they were AI: everything from Grammarly to predictive text on your phone. Perhaps you’ve even tried Midjourney or DALL-E, to produce interesting images. They’re all great “research assistants” for getting ideas, learning new subjects, discovering what matters about a topic.

But an AI video generator?

Well, yes. Because a video isn’t an instance of static content, like a page of text or generated photo; it’s a series of events in sequence. It has a structure, needing a theme, plan, and subject matter to bring it to life. These are all things AI can help with, just as ChatGPT can help you with an article.

So the capabilities of AI aren’t limited to text; they are content generators. And content can be any medium or channel. AI video generators and AI-generated content are coming to the web, and you’d better be ready.

In this article, we’ll show you how to make use of them.

Goodbye to manual video creation, hello to AI video generators

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Let’s start with an analogy about movies. Ever noticed how so many – from mediaeval costume dramas to Star Wars – seem to follow the same three-stage structure?

First, the hero or heroine’s everyday life gets disrupted by a mysterious character sending them on an adventure; next come pain and danger as they battle towards their goal; finally, they return home, changed by their experiences. It’s called the Hero’s Journey, and it’s been the basis of almost all adventure stories for thousands of years.

(If you work for Contentoo, it also sounds like a day in the office, but we’ll let that slide).

The point here: whether it’s about superheroes or spacecraft, thousands of movies have the same structure – because that structure works. And it’s no different for business communications like sales pitches, training videos, and How-To’s. Which makes your business video a candidate for AI video generators.

Generate AI videos in moments, text to video

Modern AI video generator tools like Synthesia and Elai can take a piece of text like your sales script and turn it into a viewer-friendly, recognizably structured video experience that looks natural and unforced. With a humanlike presenter communicating your points with warmth and personality. It’s called AI video generation.

Essentially, these tools ask you to choose a template – a templated “structure” like the Hero’s Journey for movies – and “cast” your video by choosing a human avatar to present it. There are options for customizing the “stage”, or where the presenter and other visuals appear and what’s in the background; you can also upload slides at whatever point you want.

Finally you cut-and-paste in your “script”, or what you want the avatar to say. The AI then puts your words in your avatar’s mouth, animating the figure realistically as it gets your points across.

Those are the basics – not so different from the way a ChatGPT prompt brings you a complete article in grammatical English. But there are variations in how these text-to-video generators get the job done.

person that is looking at his/her pictures on a camera

Contentoo's Top 5 picks: AI video generator tools that work

Of course, the different AI text-to-video tools have different strengths and weaknesses – so let’s look at a few and where they perform best. 

For more information on AI tools for writing, take a look at our top 5 picks: free AI tools for content creation.

1. Pictory: automatically add images that fit your content

First on our list has to be Pictory, in our opinion, the best AI video generator. Its USP is that when it turns your text into a spoken video (complete with talking head) it imports images and clips from its large library of royalty-free content based on the content of your script – adding relevant eye candy to your video while needing no effort from you.

Their stock library runs to over 3m pieces of content, reducing the chance your video will have the same images and clips as anyone else’s – and of course you can swap in and out as needed. Overall, we think Pictory’s an interesting AI video creator that’s definitely worth a look.

2. Lucas AI video creator: Create videos via a chat interface

As the first end-to-end solution, the Lucas AI video creator, created by Idomoo, allows users to generate complete videos in seconds using a simple text prompt. In fact, you can produce multiple videos simultaneously in up to 100x real time with this time-saving and efficient tool.

With no advanced editing skills required, users can easily personalise their videos through script editing, voiceover changes, colour adjustments, media swaps, and interactive CTAs. The Lucas AI video generator works well for various video types, including everything from explainer videos to social media ads, delivering high-quality content that meets a diversity of needs.

3. Lumen5: a PowerPoint for video

Another option is Lumen5. It’s a bit more IKEA-like than some tools, with “Some Assembly Required”. But the assembly’s easy – pointing and clicking, dragging and dropping content (like your script text) onto a template where Lumen5 adds the pzazz.

The UI resembles PowerPoint, with each “slide” being a scene in your video. Lumen5 has a downside, however: it doesn’t auto-generate audio, so it takes more work if you want your video to contain a spoken narration. But its ease of use and simplicity of interface make Lumen5 another choice worth trying out.

4. AI with everything

An AI for video choice with a difference is Whereas some text-to-video tools focus on doing one thing well, is more of an all-you-can-eat buffet: enter your title and script as the prompt, tell it your industry sector, and it’ll come back with AI-generated video, images, layout, even a logo or two. (And – unfortunately – unusually loud background music).

The USP of speed. While you probably wouldn’t put one of its videos straight onto your website, it’s a great way to generate ideas for what you really want to do – like the best AI content generation tools, it’s more of an assistant than an expert. And we expect you’ll use it in the same way.

5. Synthesia: natural language from talking heads

We mentioned Synthesia above – with good reason. Its key selling point is its avatars: AI generated presenters that read your script aloud, perfectly lip-synched to the words being spoken in a way that’d make 80s pop group Milli Vanilli blush. You can even choose the narration style (Lively? Earnest? Soft spoken?) and accent, from languid Californian to clipped British.

More controllable than some tools, it lets you add your own graphics and choose your fonts, bringing the video closer to your existing brand. A bonus: Synthesia works in over a hundred languages. So if your customers are native speakers of vowel-starved Czech or Ethiopian Amharic, you’re covered.

Honourable mention: Raw Shorts, funky name, funkier output

Animation-heavy Raw Shorts makes AI video creation (even more) fun. Again it populates your video with images and graphics that riff on your script content (although it doesn’t generate video quite automatically; you’ll need to direct). But it pays more attention than most to “palette”: the smooth pairings of colour and style that make a video look coherent and recognizably on-brand.

Raw Shorts also lets you convert spreadsheets into videos. While this may sound boring – ”Here’s a video of our customer support checklist”, anyone? – it recognizes that many user stories, product descriptions, and customer personas originate in Excel or Google Sheets, and does its best to “read” the content into script form. Interesting – and fun.

Why generate videos with AI, anyway?

So that leaves the big question: why? After all, the web remains a written culture: Millennials and Zoomers do more reading and writing – in the form of WhatsApp messages and texts – than their parents ever did.

But while the web’s biggest demographic segments are readers and writers, they’re also viewers – and the content they consume tends to be shorter, splashier, and more vivid. (Witness TikTok and Instagram Videos, most just seconds in length.) So turning a page of text into a colourful video, or a static PowerPoint into an animated short, can attract an audience you didn’t have before. While including video content on a page is also a ranking factor for search engines, meaning these tools can also aid your SEO.

And that’s the real game here: building a bigger, more engaged audience for your products and services. We’re excited about the potential for AI video creation tools – and we think you will be, too.

Conclusion: Put AI video generators on your media plan

In conclusion, let’s return to our movie script analogy. If you read a real movie script, there’s often surprisingly little detail. The Star Wars script doesn’t describe every swing of Luke’s lightsabre; it just notes “A thrilling duel ensues” and leaves it at that. Why? Because choreographing the fight is someone else’s job.

Marketer putting an AI video generator on her marketing media plan

For many marketers today, AI video generator applications can be that “someone else”. Your product may be niche, not having the audience to justify a large video production budget.

Or you may need hundreds of videos, but don’t have time to make them. That’s where these AI video generator tools come in. They won’t write your script – but they can turn your words into visually engaging content that delights and engages your audience.

It’ll be a long time before AI generates the next Summer blockbuster. But it can help you generate customer interest, sales and profits right now.

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