Before I purchased ESP I had done a trial run of VideoScribe, which is an excellent program - but the price tag was a bit out of reach for me. But as I am interested in a business of video creation and marketing, I try to invest in the best video creation material I can.
I was pleased when I learned of ESP as an affordable alternative to VideoScribe, and the sales video seemed to be frank and honest about areas where it was inferior to VideoScribe - although I can now see that it did not list all areas of such inferiority.
For the price I felt that I could still do what I needed to in order to make some money with it - and I have made some (not a lot) and I'm sure I'll make some more. But I've noticed some issues that I feel need to be mentioned.
Really the "issues" as I see them basically fall into two categories: software issues and marketing issues. I'll start by talking about software issues.
Some of them are things that you may have already read about: For example ESP is very picky about the SVG files it will load. Sometimes you get an error saying that you should make sure the file is a real SVG file and, if it is, that it does not contain groups...
I've discovered that I can usually fix this issue by opening the SVG in InkScape (you can also use Illustrator) and select everything and "Ungroup" - then save the file again, being sure to choose Save As - Optimized SVG.
But there are other issues. Sometimes the SVG loads just fine, but when you run "play", instead of the image being drawn, the screen is blank until the last instant and then the image suddenly appears.
I bought a huge collection of SVG images here on WF and it turns out that I have to go through literally all of them and edit each one because ESP is not handling any of them as they are.
There's another issue that I really do not like. It's the way that the drawing is done on many of the images - and even on the text. Instead of drawing solid lines, ESP likes to draw an outline and then fill it in at the end - whereas VideoScribe will draw a thick line as a single line. This, in my opinion, makes the resultant videos look more amateurish.
Also, when drawing colored images, the program draws a blotchy black and white that never really looks complete, and then the color suddenly fills in all at once.
Even the way that the text is outlined and then filled in - that effect actually doesn't look bad, but I would prefer if it were offered as an option rather than "this is what you're stuck with".
There are a couple of issues when it comes to saving files that I need to mention - the second of which is fairly major, as you will see.
When you save a project, the default extension for ESP files is .skch. If you loaded an SVG file from your PC in your project - say, "mypic.svg", by default when you save the project the program will suggest saving it as "mypic.svg". Now if you assume the program will automatically change the .svg to .skch if you just accept this default - wrong. It will try to save it as "mypic.svg" and, because it's the wrong extension, it will give you an error message.
Not major, but indicative of a programming oversight. What is a bit more major, however, is one that has potential for being seriously problematic:
If you start a project and publish it out to a video - say, "myvideo.mp4", when you go to save the project it will default to saving it as "myvideo.skch". Fine - perfect. That's as it should be. But let's say you do that. Your work is all saved in case you need to tweak it or make changes to the video. Cool...
BUT... you click on "New" and start creating a new project. You publish this project as "myvideo2.mp4" and hit "Save" to save the new project. Does it likewise save "myvideo2.skch"? No... it overwrites your original project - "myvideo.skch" and all of your work on that project is lost forever - in spite of the fact that you had clicked on "New".
OK, on to marketing issues...
Paul Lynch, as you will learn if you become a customer of his and get on his list, is an aggressive marketer. The advice that many of us in the IM world have heard of "for every email you send your list selling them something, send them three or four just offering them something useful" is advice that Paul has either never heard or simply hasn't taken to heart...
But that's fine. I respect that he's a marketer and he's working his business. I could, after all, always unsubscribe from his list. I have not done so up until now because I feared I might miss out on some free upgrade or bug fix.
But here's the thing: ESP2 launches on Tuesday. He isn't offering his existing customers a free upgrade. He says he originally wanted to, but that the cost for him out of pocket to develop the upgrade was over $100k.
I saw a video showing what the upgrade does. It is pretty cool, albeit I don't know what glitches it has, and there was no talk in the sales video of how or if ESP2 fixes any of the aforementioned glitches from ESP.
Some of the things that ESP2 does are effects that I could already achieve by combining my ESP work with Camtasia Studio. But maybe not all.
Here's the thing: Having been a programmer, and seeing some of the programmatic issues with the first edition, all I can say is that if Paul Lynch paid $100k to the same programmer - he got ripped off. With all due respect, I have my serious doubts of that being the case.
Secondly, what current customers are being offered - instead of a free upgrade - is a 25% discount if they buy the software on the first day. You have to buy it the day it comes out to get the discount. This is a marketing tactic to give you less time to think about buying. A sales tactic that goes way, way back. The old, "You have to act now to get the deal" in order to avoid giving you a chance to talk yourself out of buying.
Don't get me wrong - Paul Lynch has every right to charge his customers for an upgrade if that's the way he chooses to do business. Software giants have done it for years. Albeit, in the past existing customers of other software companies got the upgrade at a discount that was not limited to a single day.
However, I feel it would be more fair if there were at least a free upgrade that fixes the bugs in the first one. Even if it doesn't have features of the new upgrade, it should fix the bugs that most of us didn't know about and weren't told about before we purchased ESP.
If you want to make money doing whiteboard animation videos and you're on a limited budget, using ESP might be a viable option for you. But if you're smart, once you do start making some money, you'll want to start investing in VideoScribe.
I hope someone comes up with an affordable alternative to both of these programs.