22 Useful Tools for Producing Multimedia Content

22 Useful Tools
For Producing Multimedia Content

This tutorial showcases various online tools, websites, and options for producing multimedia content. You’ll find over time there are many new products, and apps that offer similar functionality.  These are a few of our favorites. Please feel free to reach out to us with your best suggestions for producing multimedia content. We’re always looking for other great resources.

Note that some of these services may at any time be discontinued. For that reason, always be cautious about relying too heavily on a third-party service. When possible, download a backup of your project.

1. KnightLab — TimelineJS

Timeline JS is a KnightLab project for very easily creating sophisticated timeline projects that you can embed in your own website or blog. The interface takes you through each step of the process. It relies on Google Spreadsheet for inserting your data for the timeline, and will give you a starter template that you fill in.

You can insert images and videos into your timeline, but they have to be hosted elsewhere, like YouTube. You can also host images on hosting sites like PostImage.org, or Imgur.

2. KnightLab — StoryMapJS

Storymap JS is a tool for creating location-based slide-show stories. As the user clicks the next button, they are taken to the next scene in the story, which can incorporate photos, videos, or text. The tool can also be used with a very large image (called a gigapixel) instead of a map. But the resolution of the image needs to be extremely large to work.

3. KnightLab — JuxtaposeJS

Juxtapose JS is a tool for creating before-and-after photo sliders that can be embedded on any website or blog. The photos have to be hosted elsewhere. You can use a photo hosting service like PostImage.org, or Imgur.

4. KnightLab — SoundCite

SoundCite is a tool for adding sound to specific pieces of text. The text appears highlighted with a small play button. When pressed, the sound will play as the user reads the text. The Soundcite page has an example that better illustrates how it works.

Sounds (.mp3) must be hosted on your own server, or uploaded to SoundCloud.

ThingLink is an image annotation tool that allows you to put markers on top of an image. When clicked, these markers will display an info window with text, photos, video, or audio clips.

6. Canva

Canva is an online service that allows you to create graphics, presentations, and infographics. Canva is also a nice way to get starter templates that you build upon, or draw inspiration from. Many designs are free, but some graphics cost $1 each. Storage of your project is limited without a fee.

7. Infogram

Infogram is an online service that allows you to create infographics using a simple drag-and-drop interface. The graphics are much nicer looking than most, even professional, data visualization programs would produce, but the capabilities are limited to simple datasets. The best way to use this is to let the graphic lead the data format (start with what you want to visualize) because you’ll quickly find its limitations. Infogram is free for most basic charts, with subscription fees for power users.

9. Chartblocks

Chart Blocks is an online tool for easily creating charts and customizing them in a draw-and-drop interface. The price is free up to 30 charts.

10. DataVisu.al

DataVisu.al is an online tool for making charts. You upload spreadsheet data and adjust a few sliders to customize the look of the chart. The basic version, which allows you to save low-resolution versions of your chart with their brand stamped on it, is free.

11. Palladio

Palladio is an online tool for creating a few different chart types. The tool is free, but limited to only a few very specific types of charts: a map, a gallery, a graph-node view, and a table view. You upload a spreadsheet of data, but the spreadsheet needs to be in a specific format. Their website has an example template to work from.

12. Verse

Verse is an online service that allows you to annotate videos with other videos, or allow the user to make choices about what to see next. The service is free up to 30 minutes of video storage per month.

13. Klynt

Klynt is a software tool that you can purchase and install on your computer which allows you to create and edit interactive video experiences. Think choose-your-own-adventure videos. As the viewer watches, they are presented with options of what to see next, and depending on what they click, they are taken to the next segment of the story.

14. Tumult Hype

Tumult Hype is piece of software that you download and install on your Mac, which allows you to create web animations that can be embedded on websites. The software is timeline based, but exports HTML5/JavaScript code that can be integrated within existing sites. The software also supports creating an entire website from the ground up, but wasn’t specifically designed for this purpose. The software costs $50.

15. Pageflow

Pageflow is a web service for creating multimedia “scrollytelling” types of stories. The pricing is 8,50€/month.

16. Odyssey

Odyssey is a web tool that allows you to create interactive stories that have some kind of locational element to them. The tool uses CartoDB as backend. It can be a little technical, even though it tries to walk you through the process, and some coding knowledge can be helpful.

17. Envato

Envato Marketplace is a series of websites where creative artists can sell templates of their work for nominal fees. This is a great way to get samples for websites, WordPress themes, audio loops, motion graphic projects, or even just simple design graphics. Often students use these as starting points for inspiration on projects. The costs vary, but most items are under $20.

18. WordPress.com

WordPress.com gives you a free website which can be used as either a blog or portfolio. The free version is limiting, however, and for about $3/month you can get a custom domain name and tools to add custom design to your site.

It is important to note that WordPress.com is different than WordPress.ORG. WordPress.COM is a commercial service that makes it easy to build websites, while WordPress.ORG is free and open-source software that allows you to create a WordPress site on your own server. For most people, .COM will be a much easier, turnkey solution for building a website.

19. Theme X (WordPress)

Theme X is a WordPress theme that allows a high level of customization and multimedia integration to a WordPress site. Though various extensions, the theme offers a drag-and-drop interface for creating customized pages. The theme costs about $70.

20. Tilda

Tilda.cc is an online platform for building webpages that is geared toward storytelling. It uses design modules called “blocks” that allow you stack and build great-looking stories without coding. The service is free for one site, but limits to 50 pages.

21. SquareSpace

SquareSpace is one of the most popular options for students building their portfolios. It’s highly customizable, but comes pre-packaged with great-looking themes for turnkey website designs. The cost is about $12/month

22. Exposure.co

Exposure.co is a platform for photographers to create visually-oriented website portfolios. It’s free to start.

95 Tools for Investigative Journalists

This Medium.com post 95 Tools For Investigative Journalists was last updated December 2016.  However, it is a fantastic collection of various online services and tools that can be used by researchers and investigative journalists. You’ll find some of the tools have been discontinued, yet, we suggest you give it a try if you’re looking for information that you thought was impossible to find.