A beginner-friendly guide to bulk video creation
This article was originally written in May 2022, and updated in October 2023.
Tell me, does this sound familiar to you?
You have a huge list of video variations that you need to make, or even a list of unique video ideas but not enough time to make them all. You probably figured there’s no way around this but to do this manually – which is a painful thought to have.
Creating videos in bulk, where you have to process a large number of videos, can be a real challenge if you have never done it before. And that’s why i’m creating this article, to be your lighthouse and help you navigate the waters of batch video creation.
Take a deep breath, and relax, thanks to bulk video creation, you’ll be able to render thousands of videos automatically.
Bulk video creation: different types of tools
When it comes to automated video creation, you have a few options in terms of bulk video makers. Each of these options is suitable for different use cases, and each will have its pros & cons, but also requirements.
Each one of the bulk video generators I’ll touch upon below is good for specific use cases. Some are good if you have a low budget, some are good if you’re a non-technical person and only need a simple video template, and some are good if you have to create complex bulk video creation workflows.
After Effects bulk video creators
1. Bulk video maker: Plainly
If you have a bulk video creation project that’s robust, a tool like Plainly will be a lifesaver. When I say robust, I mean:
- You need a cloud based solution
- You want to create 100+ videos
- You need to build a dynamic video creation workflow (not a one-time export)
- You want an API to import your data, and not only spreadsheets
- You have templates created in After Effects
You won’t be able to execute workflows like these if you are using the bulk video generators I share below in this article.
A video automation tool like Plainly, however, is specifically built for this. It’s a web-based tool that will allow you to upload your AE project, choose dynamic elements, and then connect a data source from which you’ll create your variations.
Oh, and the best thing? Everything renders in the cloud. You can literally be away from your machine and create 1000s of video variations.
Here’s how simple it is to set up a project inside Plainly:
1. Template upload
All you have to do for this step is to ZIP up your AE project alongside the fonts you used and upload it to the Plainly Web App. You don’t have to do anything extraordinary or create specialized bulk video creation templates. You can also use a template from the Plainly’s template library.
2. Plainly setup
After you’ve uploaded your template, Plainly will parse your project and list out all of the layers you have inside of your rendering composition. All you have to do then is set up “dynamic elements”. In plain(ly) English this means – choosing what elements will change in every render.
After you set up everything inside Plainly, you can render videos in a few different ways:
- API: For those who are tech-savvy, you can use our API and create amazingly complex bulk video creation workflows. Set it and forget it.
- INTEGRATIONS: For those who have dynamic data sources, you can use Plainly’s native integrations and connect tools such as Google Sheets.
- CSV IMPORT: If you have a list of video variations, you can import that as a CSV into Plainly and mass render videos in one click.
There’s also a way to automate the distribution of videos. You can use Plainly’s API or native integrations to automatically send videos to storage such as S3, Google Drive, Dropbox, and similar.
Pros: Easily connect Plainly to your data source using native integrations or CSV. Create complex bulk video creation workflows using API.
Cons: It’s not a free bulk video maker (but hey, everyone’s got to make a living). It is affordable though, especially when you consider the money and time you’ll save. Pricing starts at $59 per month. Pricing plans differ depending on the minutes of rendered videos.
Best for: Robust bulk video creation projects that imply creating 100+ video variations.
2. Bulk video maker: Templater by Dataclay
Templater is the OG After Effects bulk video creation space, and even though we’re competitors we have to acknowledge the great work they are doing.
So if you need a simpler solution, for a smaller number of videos then Templater is a great choice. It’s an After Effects plugin, so all of the work has to be done by the After Effects artist but it has a lot of similar features to Plainly.
It’s a local solution, which means that the rendering is done on your local machines and you have to set up rendering farms. On the flip side, it’s great for projects that require a ton of large files, which are hard to transfer if you’re working on a cloud-based solution.
The setup with Templater is similar to Plainly:
- Create your template in After Effects
- Link your data source, such as Google Sheets or other online data sources
- Click render, and Templater will create rendering queues and orchestrate rendering on your local rendering nodes.
Pros: Fast setup, and very cost-effective.
Cons: Local solution, which means you have to worry about rendering machines and infrastructure. No API that you can use for complex workflows.
Best for: Motion designers, and creative teams that need to batch render projects that have large files.
Check out the best Templater alternative.
3. Bulk video maker: CompsFromSpreadsheets (for AE)
Priced at $49.99, the CompsFromSpreadsheets script is the most bare-bones solution you can get. It’s a really neat script that will allow you to map layers to spreadsheet values.
It will not only map layers and spreadsheet values but also make all of the compositions and add them to the render queue.
Here’s a video from the creator Michael Cardeiro that explains how this script works:
Pros: It will save you a bunch of time, and it’s definitely worth the money.
Cons: Where this script will fall though is if you need a dynamic link to a spreadsheet that will constantly change or if you need bulk video creation of videos with live data. It’s also not suitable for cases where you need 1000s of videos. That’s where video automation software like Plainly comes in handy.
Best for: This script is pretty awesome if you have a one-off project that needs a lot of variations.
Web Based video creators
4. Bulk video maker: Placid
Placid initially started out as an image batch generator, but they also added video capabilities recently. This is great because you can batch generate images and not only videos but since they added videos recently, don’t expect too much from their video capabilities. Also, as the templates are created in a web-based environment they have to be quite simple.
Placid offers a ton of various templates from which you can start. The next step in the process is to edit the template in the Template Editor and then call their API to batch-generate videos. If you’re not a tech person you can also use some of the native integrations such as Airtable or Wordpress.
Placid also has Zapier and Make integrations, which means that you can use these popular no-code tools to connect Placid to thousands of different apps.
Pros: Has bulk image generation.
Cons: Very limiting when it comes to video templates.
Best for: Marketeers who are familiar with APIs and want to generate simple banner-style videos.
5. Bulk video maker: Creatomate
One of the great things about Creatomate is that it has quite a good template creation system. Although online-based, and it has its limitations when it comes to video quality - it’s quite intuitive and has a mild learning curve.
Creatomate also has an image generation feature, but in comparison to Placid, this is their secondary product. After you create a template (they also have pre-made templates) in Creatomate the next step is to connect your data. They have a few options here, such as CSV import, no-code (Zapier, Make, Pabbly) integrations and of course an API for tech-savvy users.
Pros: Probably the best template creation UX when it comes to web-based batch video creators.
Cons: Templates have to be simple; no native integrations.
Best for: Companies that want to do bulk video creation but don’t have After Effects know-how.
6. Bulk video maker: Shotstack
Shotstack started as a highly technical product, but in recent months they have been adding tons of features that make it easy for non-tech people to bulk edit videos. As with the rest of the tools, everything starts with the video template which you can either pick from their library or create your own.
The template creation experience is similar to Creatomate, and it’s basically a simplified video editor in your browser that you’ll use to create the template.
After that, Shotstack allows to batch create videos using either their API (with Zapier and Make integrations available), or using a CSV. This is where you can see the roots of Shotstack, as it falls short in easy ways to batch generate without knowing how to code.
Pros: Great for developers, with a flexible API and SDKs.
Cons: Not a lot of ways to generate videos if you’re not technical. Simple video templates.
Best for: Technical teams that prefer API usage.
Ready to get started with bulk video creation?
I hope that I successfully demystified video creation in bulk with this article. It’s really not that complicated. You need a video template, a tool for automation, and your data source. What tool you are going to use depends on your workflow, project complexity, and budget.
Once you do your first automated bulk creation project, you’ll start to see the possibilities. And trust me – there are A LOT of possibilities with video automation. I mean, why should you spend time on boring manual tasks when you have robots that can do the grunt work?
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m very passionate about simple video creation and automation. I discover new use cases constantly which only deepens my love for this work.
Bulk video creation: FAQ
1. What is bulk video creation?
Bulk video creation is the process of creating different video variations based on a video template, using spreadsheets (or some other type of database). It is a form of video automation that is very useful since many videos you want to create might share the same layout but feature different content.
2. What are the best bulk video creators?
There are many out-of-the-box paid tools for bulk video creation. Some of the most popular ones include Plainly, Templater, CompsFromSpreadsheets, Placid, Creatomate and Shotstack.
3. What are the benefits of bulk video creation?
The main benefits of bulk video creation include efficiency and scalability. Creating videos in bulk automatically allows you to streamline your production process, which can save you time and money in the long run. You can also create a large number of videos by creating a database, a video template, and using a bulk video creator.
4. How can I create videos in bulk if I’m not tech-savvy?
When it comes to bulk video creation, you don’t have to be tech-savvy. Many tools available on the market have native integrations or CSV import, which allows for a user-friendly way to connect your database with a video automation tool of your choice.
5. What is the best way to get started with bulk video creation?
The best way to get started with bulk video creation is to create a spreadsheet where you will list out the layers you need to change, and define the variations you want to see in different video versions. The next step is deciding which bulk video creator and method you want to use.
6. How do i bulk edit a video?
To bulk edit videos you will need to create a template. You can use After Effects for this. After you create your template in After Effects, upload it to software such as Plainly which will allow you to select which elements you want to change with every variation. From there, you can connect your data source (such as a spreadsheet) and render 1000s of videos in a few clicks.
7. How do i make bulk videos for YouTube
To batch create videos for Youtube, you will need to write down video ideas, generate the scripts (you can use a tool such as ChatGPT for this), then create a video template and use a batch video creator such as Plainly to generate all of the different videos.