Ever wondered about the simplest way to turn talks or sermon videos into snappy shorts? I tried out 4 different platforms that do just that. Opus Clip, Sermon Shots, Vidyo and Descript.
I started with a 20-minute Talk on Matthew 1:1-16. I wanted to grab a snippet to use in a Facebook reel and add some subtitles. I used 4 different platforms to compare them. I’ve given a brief description of each one, plus a short that I created (from the same talk.)
The starting video
Here’s the video that I started with.
I uploaded this video to 4 websites. All these sites allow you to do at least one video for free.
Opus Clip was the easiest to use. It gave me a selection of 14 clips with a summary of each one so I could choose the one I wanted. It had the most interesting style of subtitle and produced a final result easily. Opus Clip will upload from Youtube, Zoom,Google Drive, or a direct upload. Here’s an example of the first clip:
Up the top is a heading, then an AI-generated summary of the clip. Down the bottom is the actual transcript. There’s a score (99) of how captivating Opus deems this snap to be. This was David’s opening Illustration, so of course it was good at capturing the listeners, but it didn’t give the heart of the message.
Scanning down the various options, when I hit number 12 I found one I liked, even though Opus didn’t:
In this section of the talk, David is challenging people to put Jesus first in their lives, so Opus has nailed it saying ‘it may not have a broad appeal’. But it does capture the essence of the message. An example of when the tool becomes more than a tool – it was steering me away from the clip that I wanted.
Once you’ve found the clip you like you can click on the play button for a sample. If any of the transcript is wrong, or you’d like to make it longer or shorter, you can go into ‘Edit’ and make adjustments:
The Opus Clip Short
Here’s the final clip from Opus Clip:
Sermonshots will upload from YouTube, or a manual upload.
You can choose from a stack of a corny templates. Then you are given some sample suggested clips, with the full transcript available.
Here’s what it looks like:
On the left, you can quickly navigate to different parts of the talk.
On the right you can choose whether to add or delete individual phrases. You can also correct any mistakes. Like Opus, the transcription was very accurate. I found SermonShots gave you more manual control.
From there you can download the video, here’s what it looked like.
Sermon Shots Short
While I was working away at Sermon Shots Vidyo presented itself to me in an ad, so I thought I’d give it a run too. Like Opus it’s more down the ‘let AI do the work for you’ end of the scale. Interestingly, it’s AI chose exactly the snapshot that I chose manually. Here at #1, it put ‘Obsessed with Jesus’ which was the main idea of the talk.
From there the editor was woeful compared to the other 2. I could not find where to edit the subtitles. (I don’t like reading manuals!) I could trim the video that’s about it. It really wanted me to go with one of it’s options.
Here’s the final video from Vidyo.
The final site I tried was Descript. It was actually an OS X app that you download. Descript felt more like a movie editor, which made it easy to visualise the joining together of different parts of the talk. Not as intuitive as Opus or Sermon SHhots, but once I got the hang of it I felt even more in control.
You work from the transcript. Select some transcript and then click the add button to add it as a clip to the left.
Here’s the final product (complete with a watermark because this was all an unpaid trial!)
You might be wondering why I didn’t choose to test each platform with the same short. It’s because the platform itself influenced the short I ended up with. So the differing end results have a different section of the talk and a different style. You also might be wondering why I didn’t go with just the first snippet the AI chose in each platform. That’s because I had an idea of what I wanted my final video short wanted to be about.
So I gave them a workout in a real-life situation – I have an idea of what I want but I’m willing to be influenced. I want the Ai to be a tool and I am clear on my outcome.
This is something to be aware of when using AI. AI is not a neutral tool. It shapes your work. It’s a language tool that is looking at what other people have already done and gives results based on that. So be careful about just defaulting to the clips it gives you or your message will be shaped even more by the medium.
I liked Opus Clip the best as a piece of software to use. It was easy and fun. I loved its descriptions. It took me into the world of social media.
But if the proof is in the pudding, when I went to upload a short to YouTube I surprised myself and for some reason went with the Vidya one!
The Opus Clip looked the best, with nice subtitles, but on reflection, I didn’t like that part of the talk as much, it was less about Jesus and more about what we do. That’s not Opus Clips fault, I went with its #12 choice, but I didn’t like its other choices either.
The sermon shots short seemed to go for a bit long and the subtitles looked boring after watching Opus and Vidya. Probably better for a longer talk but not for a short.
The descript clip looked great but then for some reason, the entire talk came after it so it went for 19 minutes. Ha ha – user error of course but that’s what it did on my first use.
Of all the 4 shorts I made, Vidya was the only one under a minute. None of the other platforms gave me a warning that the ‘short’ was too long for Facebook.
The Vidyo one, when I watched it, was a great sample of the message. It was under 60 seconds. And I did nothing to it. This was what it spat out by default! So it was either a fluke, or the AI in Vidyo was able to analyse the entire talk and pick this as representative of the message. It didn’t go for the most sensational part of the talk but the most central.
Opus Clip and Vidyo felt more on the AI-automated end of the spectrum while Descript and Sermon Shots are closer to iMovie with subtitles.
Opus Clip – able to identify and produce a clip with the most interesting and sensational part of the talk, and use AI to give a good selection of what would appeal to social media. #1 for social media engagement.
Vidyo – able to identify and produce a clip reflecting the central message of the talk, but little room for editing it. #1 for capturing the essence of the talk.
Sermon Shots and Descript – allowed me to choose what I wanted, make adjustments, and piece different sections together. Would be good to put subtitles on talks, or when I was trying to communicate a message rather than publish a teaser.
At the time of writing, for a plan that would allow one talk a week to be processed, Opus Clip was $10 per month, vidyo was $27 per month, sermonshots was $39 and descript was $12.
I didn’t try out church.tech becuase it didn’t allow me to do a free trial without giving it my phone number.
You might want to stop and ask the question why do you want short snippets of your talks and what will that do to and for the people who are listening? I want to end with links to a couple of great articles by a friend Nathan Campbell. They are written about the use of AI in church but the principles apply to any human context. The first one is a challenge about not losing our creativity by using a tool that is by it’s very nature mimicking not creating.
“ChatGPT serves as a mirror; its predictive capacity reveals our machine like predictability. Its soullessness, its lack of originality and enchantment is matched by our own.”
“Could a person reading your church’s website tell it was written by a human? Does it function as art, or part of the machine? And what about our communities — and our approach to life together?”
In this second article Nathan creates and then critiques a completely AI designed church:
“What happens then, if you ask ChatGPT to function as a consultant for a new church plant in modern Australia? What vision for church does it offer? Well. Let me introduce you to Radiance Church. A church for Australia’s future imagined by the machine…”