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I Tried Sketch Genius and Avatar Builder, Two Easy, Animated Video Makers, So You Don't Have To

Sketch Genius and Avatar Builder.
Are you tempted by the promise of easy to make,
animated sketch videos, and perfectly lip synced,
customizable, 3D animated Avatars?

These days almost everyone is into producing video content. Whether it's to promote a business, teach a course, or just to share your creativity on YouTube and other social media. 

Producing great quality videos takes time to learn. It's even more challenging if you either don't want to or just aren't comfortable with being on camera. That's when 'done for you', template style video makers start to look like an attractive solution.

Sketch Genius and Avatar Builder are both owned by tech entrepreneurs/marketers, Paul Ponna and Sid Diwar. Both video makers have been marketed on FaceBook as complete video creation solutions you can use for personal and commercial projects for a low, one time, payment. Both video makers offer some quite unique features that seemingly make them worth the low introductory prices.

Be warned, buying either of these products requires navigating your way through a raft of upsells. However it is entirely possible to just purchase the apps themselves at the price advertised. Which is what I did.


Sketch Genius

At one time white board videos, where you watch a story being drawn out on a white board, were all the rage. Originally they were drawn by actual people onto real white boards, with the footage being sped up. These days, especially in the explainer video space, there are a number of apps like Sketch Genius, where the whole process is basically a simulation of someone drawing on a white board.

Sketch Genius Video Styles.
Sketch Genius Video Styles.

Features

Sketch Genius has many impressive features with the key ones for creating white board/sketch video being:

  • Photo-To-3D Sketch Technology
  • Text-To-3D Sketch Technology
  • Artificial Intelligence Scene Creator
  • Unique Sketch Themes & Styles
  • Millions of Royalty-Free Images
  • Built-in Music Library
  • 720P HD Videos
  • Commercial License

While all this looks great what clinched the offer for me was the one time, use forever price. Other whiteboard solutions are subscription based at a level I can't justify for how often I actually make whiteboard videos.

With the basic version you'll be locked out of some feature templates. For example I was completely locked out of creating an Animated Sketchbook, Whiteboard, or Hand Drawn Slideshow because all of the templates were 'Premium/Elite' only for an additional $39.00.

My Experience

Once you've selected a template, you enter your script. There's even an option to upload your recorded audio and have it automatically converted to text for both adding sub titles and so the AI can automatically break your script into scenes. If you don't like the suggested scenes you can manually adjust these later by adding or removing them, and if you don't have recorded audio there's also the option of using Text to Speech voices.

I wasn't that impressed by the built in music library. It's fine for low key background music behind narrated audio but not much else.

The AI scene creator tries to find images based on keywords in your script. I'm assuming it selects the images from the same royalty free image libraries (Pexels and Pixabay) that you can search yourself from within the video editor. For my test script the AI was pretty much useless. I ended up searching for my own images. You can upload your own images too.

Sketch Genius Video Editor Window.
Sketch Genius Video Editor Window.

I could not find any way to preview your video before sending it for a final render. It's possible to  preview the audio in the editor timeline but you just get a thumbnail of each scene.

Final render times are horrendous. It can take up to two hours based on the length of your video (apparently). My 30 second production still hadn't even started rendering after more than hour from sending it off. So much for making videos in minutes.

Sketch Genius does deliver on what it sets out to do. It's easy to use, fast to make videos with if you exclude the render times, and has some unique features that do help speed up the process.

The Verdict - It's Okay I Guess

Before buying Sketch Genius you need to ask yourself, does the drawing simulation look convincing enough to be engaging? The hook of this type of video is the anticipation of seeing something being drawn... and maybe trying to guess what it is? 

For me, it seemed fine initially, but the results just never lived up to my expectations. It would be nice if the AI could plot the basic shapes of the images, draw those first, the way a human might sketch out their construction lines, then have the hand fill in the details.

Not being able to preview in the video editor is a real problem too. Sitting around for over an hour, only to find your scenes aren't flowing in the final render is a real creativity drainer.

I haven't posted an example video because I just wasn't able to achieve anything I was happy with. I would encourage you to see the demonstration videos, on the Sketch Genius website, for yourself before deciding if this is for you. 

If you spend time to plan out your videos, and to really get a feel for how Sketch Genius works, you could probably make something as good as the demonstration videos without too much effort.


Avatar Builder

Avatar Builders User Interface showning a selection of available 3D Avatars.
Avatar Builders User Interface showing
a selection of available 3D Avatars.

I actually came across Avatar Builder before Sketch Genius and thought, this looks pretty good. I can make a custom 3D avatar of myself (regular readers will know that's one of my favorite things to do with Avatar Creators) and have it present information in my videos.

Features and User Interface

The features and user interface for Avatar Builder is much the same as Sketch Genius in terms of steps, just a different layout and, obviously you have a choice of 3D avatars to begin with instead of sketch styles.

Like with Sketch Genius, if you have the basic version without the premium upsell you'll be locked out of using many avatars, templates, and even the audio to text feature.

My Experience

My best attempt at a 'TET' Avatar.
My best attempt at a 'TET' Avatar.

After choosing an Avatar that already closely resembled my TET Avatar (Blonde hair, circle glasses, grey suit, black tie, black shoes), there weren't a lot of options to customize beyond making color changes. The physical changes you can make depend largely on the avatar you use as a base.

The video editor is very similar to Sketch Genius but you get to choose where you avatar will appear in each scene (if at all). 

Render Times for Avatar Builder are much better, with processing on my animations starting almost immediately, but I was still waiting around for 5-10 minutes each time.

The Verdict - Looks Outdated

To be honest, I can't see myself using this for anything. The Text to Speech voices are awfully outdated and robotic. I'm not upgrading just so I can upload my own voice (it is possible to record your voice directly into the studio but that rarely goes well with no ability to clean up or enhance the audio).

The avatars are fine but somewhat dated (they look like NPCs in a 90's video game), and I can't take them seriously when paired with the TTS voices.

Fortunately I was able to make something halfway decent but I still wouldn't use this in any capacity to promote my animation service.


Should You Buy Either Video Maker?

If you want something you can learn in minutes, and the style of videos these produce is exactly the style you're going for, then sure. Both are extremely easy to use and you could knock out a series of videos in an afternoon if you have your scripts ready to go.

I feel Sketch Genius is the slightly better value for the basic version as some of the features available were Premium features in Avatar Builder. I'd be more likely to pay for the Premium features in Sketch Genius to get the additional video styles, where as, I'm not even sure I'd want more selection of 3D avatars and TTS voices in Avatar Builder.

Also, whiteboard style videos are hard to recreate in any animation maker app. Sketch Genius isn't necessarily the best implementation but it's at least compatible (and a one time fee). 3D avatars, on the other hand, quite easy to animate with just basic knowledge of some other 3D animation apps.

That said, the makers of these apps are really trying to get you into their ecosystem, particularly to buy some of the upsells and other apps. Their sales pitch is geared towards how you can 'earn thousands of dollars' with all their extras. 

It's not a scam, just be vigilant about which upsells you think you absolutely need. If you're an animator just looking for another tool, you're not suddenly going to become a power seller by buying a few extras. If you're a marketer looking for a way to add video to your sales tools without putting your face on camera, then maybe the extras will be for you.

Personally these two video makers aren't really for me. I bought them a couple of weeks ago and the most I've used them is to write this review. Take from that what you will.


Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored and I paid for both applications using my own money. The opinions are my own assessment of each application after using each to write this review.

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