Instagram gave us Stories, IGTV, and Guides to share compelling content with followers. Reels is the latest Instagram feature that empowers creators to make short-form videos.

If you've watched a few TikTok videos, Reels will be a breeze to use. With this feature, you can make 9x16 videos up to 30 seconds long with eye-catching effects, text, and audio. If you post from a public account, your Reel could make it to the Explore page for more eyes to see.

I'm going to walk you through how to make a Reel and give my thoughts on what's missing. At the end, I'll show you how to use Kapwing to make up for these missing features.

  1. Open Instagram Reels
  2. Choose your settings
  3. Film a video
  4. Post your Reel

Step One: Open Instagram Reels

Open Instagram on your mobile device and tap the Reels symbol at the bottom of the screen. Then, tap the camera symbol at the top right corner to open your camera.

Step Two: Choose Your Settings

Let's adjust the settings before hitting the record button. You don't have to use every feature, but I recommend testing them out to see what you like. The audio tab lets you add sounds from Instagram's music library to your Reel. Tap the play button to preview each sound and move the track from left to right to select the part you want. Some songs include lyrics to make to make it easy to find the right section.

The second tab is where you pick the length of your video and the current options are 15 or 30 seconds. Videos can be shorter than the length you select. I did a test to see just how short a video can be, and I was able to post a one second Reel. I doubt anyone would post a video that short, but nonetheless it was interesting to watch.

Let's say you want to create a slow-motion video or increase the speed. The third tab does exactly that. There are six different speeds to choose from including .3x, .5x, 1x, 2x, 3x, and 4x. You can only change the speed on videos that are filmed within the app.

The best part of making Reels, at least for me, is experimenting with the effects. Eye-catching frames, funny face filters, and the Instagram green screen effect can spice up ordinary videos. You can try on saved effects or keep swiping left until you get to the browse effects tab to search for more options.

Below are a few effects I found after searching with the browse effects tab. There are so many options to choose from to match whatever vibe you're trying to achieve. My favorite out of these six is the watercolor effect.

Next up, is the touch up feature. It's supposed to smooth your skin to give you a flawless complexion, but I honestly don't see a difference. It might work if you're in good lighting which I'm hardly ever in. Tap the feature to try it out for yourself.

The last feature lets you set a timer, and trust me it's a lifesaver. There's nothing worse than pressing the record button, then rushing to get into the right position. The timer tab helps you make the most of 15 or 30 seconds by giving you extra time to prepare before recording. Drag the track to the length of your clip and choose between a three or ten second countdown. The countdown will begin when you press the Reels icon to record.

Step Three: Film a Video

When you're happy with the settings, tap the Reels tab to record or  start the countdown if you set the timer. You can record all at once or record several short clips. You can also upload a video from your camera roll. Tap preview to watch your video.

From here you can mix the audio, record a voiceover, and draw with different brush tools. I lowered the music so it plays softly in the background while I'm speaking.

With the text tool, you can manually add captions and time out when text appears. To do this, click the snippet of your text at the bottom, then drag the ends of the track to choose a start and end time.

Step Four: Post Your Reel

When you're finished editing the Reel, tap share to and write a caption. You can tag people and add a custom cover to your Reel. Your cover can be a frame from your video or you can upload an image from your camera roll. Covers have a 9x16 aspect ratio, but try to keep the main content in the center. If you decide to post the Reel to your grid, the top and bottom half are cropped out.

Overall, creating a Reel is a straightforward process. I love the range of effects, and how easy it is to use each tool. There are few drawbacks to creating Reels entirely on Instagram.

Let's start with the music library. Instagram gave us a lot of songs to choose from, but there's a good chance your favorite artist isn't available. Most of my ideas start with a song, so the ability to use any sound is important to me.

Next, I would love to be able to auto-generate captions. By now, everyone should know that captions are a must for every single video. Typing them out is tedious and nailing the timing to match your speaking cadence can be difficult. To resolve both of these issues, I'm turning to a free online video editor.

How to Add Any Sound and Captions to a Reel

In this section I'm using Kapwing, a free browser-based video editor to add captions and music to my Reel. You can use Kapwing on any iPhone, Android, PC, or tablet. Let's get started!

Step One: Upload a Video to Kapwing Studio

Head over to Kapwing, click start editing, upload a video, or a paste a video URL.  

To ensure your video is the right size for Instagram Reels, tap edit background and change output size to 9:16. If you need to crop your video, tap your video then tap edit video and select crop.

Step Two: Add Captions and Music

Let's start with generating captions for the Reel. Kapwing's caption maker is free and takes the stress out of manually typing dialogue. Click subtitles at the top of the Studio then click auto-generate. Select a language from the dropdown menu and click auto-generate again to begin creating your captions. Afterwards, you can edit the text, change the font, color, size, background color, and text position.

Now, let's add some background music. Tap audio, then upload an mp3 or paste an audio URL. If you found a video with music that's perfect for your Reel, you can paste it here too. Tap edit audio to adjust the volume and you can change the speed. Drag the ends of the audio layer to trim the length and use the split tool to edit your MP3.

Step Three: Export and Download

Click export video at the top of the Studio and when your video has been processed, click download. You can create a free Kapwing account to remove the watermark before saving the video to your device. All that's left is to head over to Instagram to post your Reel!  

If you make a Reel with this tutorial, follow and tag us on Instagram so we can see! We're making a comeback on TikTok and hope to see you over there too. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for the latest content creation trends and video editing tips.

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