You want to make a photo and video slideshow for your mom’s birthday — What software do you use? Surprisingly, even in 2019, there is no tech brand that immediately comes to mind for merge media together into a video.

In this article, I’ll review five current options for making a photo slideshow with music online in 2019. I have searched for and tested out these options for “online video slideshow” and related queries, and these are the top experiences.

Kapwing

I think Kapwing is the best free video montage app available. Kapwing is a simple, fast video maker designed for casual creators. It’s ideal for making YouTube compilations, photo slideshows, skits, Instagram videos, or short movies. You don’t need to install anything or create an account to sign in – just find the Video Maker and click “get started.” Once you open the Video Maker, you can drag and drop, upload from your device, or paste a link to import from YouTube, Giphy, or other websites.

Kapwing supports photos, videos, and GIFs. Once you upload your media, it’s shown vertically on the right. You can rearrange scenes, change the duration of a single clip, or trim a video to make it shorter.

On the left panel, you can change the size of your video and choose to either zoom in on the videos or crop them. 

Kapwing is free to use, but the output videos have a small watermark in the bottom corner that you have to pay to remove. Here’s a sample montage that a student made on Kapwing. The video shows a recap of her visit to a museum using short video clips.

Best for: Instagram posts, stop motions, and personal videos.

Promo

Promo is oriented around marketing-style templates rather than creative slideshows. You’re required to make an account/sign in before you can access the software. It’s a good choice if you’re not sure what you want your video to look like and need a template to get started. 

Once I upload all of the photos for my slideshow, they’re pre-populated into a marketing-style video with text overlays. It takes two clicks to delete each caption, one at a time. There’s an iMovie-ish timeline with horizontal scroll and zooming in and out, and when you create your preview Promo automatically adds a Ken Burns transition between photos. While Promo does have some nice features including text animation support, there’s not a real-time video preview, which makes it slower to produce exactly what you want.

Best for: Text animations

Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark is a free tool (with a watermark) that supports photo and video creators. After signing in, Spark creators select a template or click “Get started” to make something from scratch. On the editor, users upload images, videos, or text scenes one by one using the bottom timeline. Adobe Spark has video style themes and a library of built-in stock music. 

Adobe has interesting templates for marketing videos, but it’s basic resizing, add text, and watermarking functions are unwieldy. For example, it’s difficult to create a vertical video for Instagram Stories; Spark only has options for a landscape (16:9) or square post.  It’s also not possible to upload multiple photos and video clips at once. In my opinion, it was the least intuitive of the online editors.

To use Adobe Spark, users must create an account to sign in, and the free version includes a “Spark” watermark on the output video and an “Adobe Spark” outro. Video processing also takes a surprisingly long time – my four scene video took several minutes to download. 

Best for: NA.

Kizoa

Kizoa requires that you install and activate Adobe Flash. Very few websites use Flash anymore, so this (combined with the “.php” extension in the URL) indicate that the website was built a long time ago. 

Once you have the editor running, the upload experience is fairly smooth. You can choose to start a video “from scratch” and upload all of your photos (or import from Facebook). You then drag the photos one by one into the timeline at the bottom of the screen. 

Kioza screenshot

Once your video timeline is running, Kizoa does have a lot of options. You can add transitions, add text, and cut down video scenes. But the design is clunky and hard to learn — it’s not clear how to reduce the duration of a single image, for example. There are a lot of tool tips, pop overs, and warnings that get in the way. The video preview updates slowly, and the edits are not processed in real time. 

Users don’t have to sign in until they want to share or download their video. 

Picovico

Picovico is a slideshow maker just for birthday slideshows. You must create an account to sign in. Once you have an account, you’re prompted to choose a template, many of which are paid and not available for free users. 

Picovico has a nice UI for editing uploaded videos and photos. You can rotate, edit, crop, add captions, and rearrange photos. You can add music or record a song to play over the video. But there is no real-time preview of your video — a low-fidelity preview is generated when you click Play.

The free version of Picovico includes a watermark in the corner of the video. It’s not possible to edit videos retroactively. Once you’ve created the video, you can download it or share the link.  

Picovico: Celebratory videos with a fancy template. 

Other

This is not a full list of the online photo slideshow makers, but it does capture a snapshot of the most popular search results. I hope that it helps you make a good decision about which software to use to turn your photos into a video this new year!

Apps that require installation: Movavi, Camtasia, Filmora Wondershare, VideoStudio, Pinnacle

Paid apps: Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, Hitfilm, Avid, Shotcut