How to Mix Poetry and Video using Animoto

I suppose that really I’m a frustrated film director but one of the great things about the 21st century’s digital revolution is that anyone can make a video, slap it up there on YouTube or Vimeo and call themselves a director.

Amateur or not, I take my video very seriously and I’m constantly thinking of what I can do with the huge amount of footage that I record. What kind of short video can I make with it? How can I use it? What kind of project can I work on for my next video? I will usually find something to focus on, even if it’s yet another promo video for Floating in Space!

Back in 2016 I seemed to have poems just pouring out of me. I was constantly coming up with something lyrical or what I thought was a great turn of phrase and creating poems. Some of those resultant poems may not have been prize winners or worthy of great poets like Dylan Thomas but they were mostly pretty reasonable and what the heck, I liked them and today with social media we can all bypass the editors of the book publishing world and publish whatever we want via the internet.

Anyway as most of my poems are pretty short I thought it might be a good idea to put a few of them on video and use them to further build up my media profile as a writer as well as giving my YouTube page a little more depth.

First off a few years back I just stepped in front of the camera and read a few poems. Ok, fair enough but a little basic. Here’s the kind of thing I mean, me reading a poem called Some Love.

Not such a bad poem but on a visual level I have to admit it’s a bit on the basic side, just me talking to the camera. What I felt I really needed was perhaps some images that relate to the subject matter and some background music. Also what about the words? I wanted to see the actual text of the poem being shown on screen.

A handy website that has helped me achieve this is Animoto, an on-line editing program that has built in templates that can be used not only for marketing videos but for anything really, but I find it perfect for the video poem.

Animoto isn’t free, but you can trial the site for free and see if it works for you. Anyway, I love Animoto and find it really helpful to make the short videos I use to plug my book (Floating in Space) and this website itself across Instagram, Facebook and anywhere on social media I can find a little spot for myself.

My latest video uses a poem I wrote some years ago called ‘I am That Seed’. It’s pretty short, as is most of my work and to start off I had a troll through the various templates on Animoto and chose one. Click ‘create’ and ‘choose template’ and you will find yourself with a screen something like the one below. The template I have chosen is actually designed to introduce a new family member but we can easily change that.

OK, so now what I’ll do is add my own text -in this case poetry- in each of the boxes after making the first box into a title page, in this case I am That Seed by Steve Higgins. Here’s the finished item below:

You can see that as well as using stock video and photography, I’ve also uploaded some of my own images, in this case a picture of me. I’ve also copied that title box and put the copy at the end of the poem. The whole thing can be tweaked using the buttons on the far left to change text fonts, size and colour as well as the music track.

Animoto have even made their own video showing how to use the templates; have a look below:

Now comes what is a little more difficult, getting the timings right so that the visual text matches up with me reading the poem. This takes a good deal of trial and error so I’ll just read the poem and time each section and then update the time each image stays on the screen. In the case of video, each clip can be trimmed to the appropriate time. After that, click ‘produce’ and Animoto will complete the video and then it can be downloaded.

Editing that sound!

Once you have the video on your PC or laptop then you have to use whatever video editing software you have to record your poem in voice over mode. If I’ve got all the timings correct then that is pretty easy, if not I have to either trim my video on my laptop software or, go back to Animoto, change the timings and then download again! Making a video can be a slow process.

After I’ve recorded the voice over, I usually send it to my sound recording software to cut out my usual mumbles and any background noises and I also sometime add a little bass just to beef up my voice and make it a little sexier!

After that there are two more options. I can send the resulting audio track back to Animoto and complete the video there or just finish the job on my PC by fading the background music down to a quieter level. In fact on the video below, I mixed the narration and the music together and uploaded the complete soundtrack back to Animoto and from there I can export the completed video to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or anywhere I want.

Here’s the final version on YouTube, and don’t forget that if you are doing something similar, make youself a professional YouTube video icon by using canva or another good imaging website.


Floating in Space is a novel by Steve Higgins set in Manchester, 1977. Click here to buy or check out the links at the top of the page for more information.

The Long and Dusty Road of Life

A short road, a long road,
A travelled-only-once-road
It’s the long and dusty road of life
It’s heartache, happiness, and strife

A happy road, a clean road​
Is the road that I desire
A cheerful road, a sweet singing music road,
Free from muddy mire

Let my road be a long road,
A fondly remembered high road
And don’t let me detour at a crossroads,
Or linger on a lonely road

One day I’ll need a fast road, a rushing road
A quickly time is running out road
And I’ll breathe my last in a quiet road, a by road
An end of the line side road

For journeys end is a sad road
A goodbye and thanks for all you’ve done road
A cul de sac, an avenue, a long gone distant road,
And as time passes it soon becomes a travelled-long-ago road.


Steve Higgins is the author of Floating in Space, a novel set in Manchester, 1977. The book is available in Kindle or paperback formats. Click the links at the top of the page for more information.

Tap, Tap, Tapping my Way


I’m caught up in the fog

I’ve got my hands out

Feeling my way like a blind man in a haze

Tap, tap, tapping my way along,

Through life.

I don’t really know what I’m looking for

But I keep searching

I’m like a blind man fumbling in the dark

And I sometimes think I need an instruction book

So I can be flick, flick, flicking,

Through life.

There are times; I guess it’s my lot,

When I don’t understand the plot.

I’m going backwards and forwards

Trying to understand.

Fast, fast, forwarding

Through life.

One day there’ll be a break in the fog

And I’ll see the sun,

But when the answers won’t come

I’ll dream harder,

Borne back to the past by memories

Back, back, back,

Through life.


Steve Higgins is the author of Floating in Space set in Manchester, 1977. Click the links at the top of the page for more information.

The Rain

The stream becomes the river
The river becomes the sea
And the rain that washes over me
Is the rain that will set me free.

For you are my rain,
My river and my stream,
And I am the fisherman
Who loves you in his dreams.

So when I wake I’ll hold you
And take away your pain.
Love can wash the pain away
Like dust in the pouring rain.

The stream becomes the river,
The river becomes the sea.
And all our sins are washed away
When the rain washes over me.

Love Isn’t

 

Love isn’t some little thing that goes ding!

It isn’t a song that you can sing.

It’s not something that might happen in a flash,

It doesn’t happen while driving and cause you to crash.

 

Love isn’t something tangible, something you can see,

It might even be invisible, to both you and to me.

It’s something that will join us and hold us together,

It’s a feeling that will get better, whatever the weather.

 

Love isn’t the singing of a song

But it’s working together when things go wrong

It isn’t the chiming of a bell or the tooting of a horn

But It’s just tears of joy when a child is born.

 

 

Dylan Thomas

Time for a reblog to commemorate Dylan’s birthday today!

Letters from an unknown author!

I love lots of writers but probably my all-time favourite is Dylan Thomas. I love the outstanding power of his writing, his incredible imagery, and the wonderful pictures he creates with his words.

Dylan also is the sort of writer I’ve always wanted to be: A bohemian, pub crawling, boozing writer who fought with himself as he laboured to paint his word pictures. Whether that was really the case I don’t know but Dylan did like his pubs and he did enjoy a drink.

The fact of the matter is that I’m nothing like Dylan, except we both share a love of words, particularly the sound of words, which is the key to the richness of Dylan’s work, especially his poetry. If you think about it, there must be a connection between the sound of a word and its meaning, a deep organic connection. After all, how did words begin? Imagine…

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When the Holiday is Over

Forget the blue skies and the swimming pool
Your desk is all ready so don’t act like a fool.

Forget the pavement cafes and Mademoiselles
As your computer fires up with a thousand e-mails
Enough to numb the pain
And the nagging desire for a glass of red wine;
Act cool.

Briefings, meetings and folders to review
Memoranda and consultations to plough through

Forget the camembert and French bread
Close the door on the plat du jour
Its not even lunch and I can’t resist
The thought of a cool aperitif;
As if . .

Revised protocols need to be sorted
And I see the new software is unsupported

I’ll enjoy my lunch in the works canteen
A ham sandwich and a cup of tea
And the memory of a French bistro won’t even arise
All bustle and chatter and joie de vivre
No, not for me . .

On the bridge

It was me that found you on that lonely road that night

I spied you on the cameras around midnight

You looked cold on top of that bridge,

I suppose you thought you’d see things in a different kind of light,

Way up on the bridge

In the middle of the night.

The ambulance was on stand by anyway

And I know you had your problems

If only you could have let on, hinted to someone

Maybe you wouldn’t have given us such a fright

But I prefer to believe you were coming down

And that you tripped or were nudged by the wind

It’s a sad place to die in the middle of a road

No one heard you call or shout

And darkness came when the lights went out.

 

 Image

Its a really tragic thing when death occurs on the motorway. Even though the individual will not be known to us the sadness is still there, knowing that we were unable to prevent this tragedy.

My freedom of information request to the UK highways agency revealed that there were 652 suicide attempts on the motorway in 2013;

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/motorway_suicides#incoming-523298

652! That’s a heck of a lot of distraught, sad people.

The Secret of Happiness

I was happy and never knew it,

Sad and knew it so well.

Love slipped by though I hardly noticed,

yet love has marked me well.

 

Winter passed and summer came

yet I was living in the cold.

My love has turned and passed me by

and outside the world grows old.

 

Happiness is trapped for me

In a former time, where once I used to dwell.

I was happy and never knew it

Sad and knew it so well

 

 

A Girl Called Pamela Taylor

I wrote this many years ago and it was called ‘A girl called Paper Tangle.’ It was one of those inspirational poems where you suddenly get an idea and just go with it. It has a nice rhythm and trips along well but I was never happy with the ‘paper tangle’ thing. Anyway, not long ago I changed it to Pamela Taylor and the poem feels so much better. Apologies to any girl called Pamela Taylor!

A Girl Called Pamela Taylor

 

Pamela Taylor wears chic clothes

Designer labels, anything goes.

Her coat has buttons made of gold

She likes to be noticed, she’s bold.

 

Pamela Taylor wears black boots,

Her body is a gun that shoots.

She’s incredibly sexy and overtly erotic

and her taste is impossibly exotic

 

Pamela Taylor has blue-eyed eyes

and discreetly she enters other people’s lives.

She’ll trap you with magnetic sighs

and it’s yourself you’ll probably despise

 

Pamela Taylor knows all the best wine

and any man she wins in time.

She’s every scene-stealer and wheeler-dealer,

And to the social lepers she’s a saintly healer.

 

Pamela Taylor never pays her fees

She opens locks with other people’s keys

One look will slice you through if you tell her lies

Or nothing she can’t easily surmise.