Simple application/method to add arrows or shapes to video?

I have a short video clip and I would like to highlight a location with an arrow or a circle. The arrow or circle does not need to move or be animated…it just needs to be visible throughout the entire video. (Think, “Watch here for a surprise!”)

I can find video editing applications that will do this, but they are more than I need and a bit on the expensive side. I’m willing to pay a little bit, though (~$30).

I’m running Windows 7 (32-bit) and the video format is really irrelevant, since I can easily convert it to whatever format would work best. In fact, the video was made from individual 640x480 image files, so I could even use an application/tool to add the arrow or circle to each image and then compile them into the final video. The only drawback would be that there are quite a few image files.

This seemed like it would be an easy thing to do when I started the project. Now I’m beginning to get a bit frustrated. I’ve found several free tools that allow me to add shapes, but they are linked to events and don’t remain on the screen throughout the entire video.

Thanks in advance!

You can do it in Windows Movie Maker, sort of - using Wingdings fonts:

I hadn’t thought of that, but I would agree with you that the result is just “sort of” OK.

I’m thinking maybe I can figure out how to run a batch file in GIMP to insert a simple circle at the same location in each image file.

If by some miracle you’ve been doing this sort of stuff and have never heard of VirtualDub (or it’s fork, VirtualDubMod) you really need it. It is ideal for this sort of thing. (Forget about how ancient it is, it is still what you want.) It has various filters in-package, plus support for third-party plug-ins. I don’t have the program on the computer I’m using right now to tell you exactly what you need, but you need to use an overlay filter-- you create an image with the arrow positioned wherever you want it relative to the frame, then overlay that image onto the series of frames.

Also, VirtualDub and VirtualDubMod support the pretty powerful editing script AVIsynth. There are also filters to overlay hard subtitle files, if you want them. Take a look at this video. It was rendered as individual frames (in Autodesk Maya) and imported into VirtualDubMod, the subs were created in Subtitle Workshop, and the 4-panel view midway through the video was stitched together from 4 separate clips and made into the 4-view using an AVIsynth script. Everything involved in making the video (other than Maya) is free software.

Here are some overlay-type filters. Logo or Overlay should do what you need.

Thank you, everyone! I’m actually using VirtualDub already, but the logo, bitmap overlay, and overlay filters are a little more combersome to use than I would like. As I mentioned in an earlier post to this thread, I can modify the individual images by inserting an arrow or circle. The problem with the overlay and logo filters is that I have to create a separate image file anyway, and adjust it as required.

I was really hoping that I could find an application or method that would allow me to insert a shape (arrow, circle/ring, etc.) and size it on the screen, similar to many image file editors.

But I may end up using the VDub overlay filter after all. The native VDub logo filter doesn’t provide very good results, but the overlay seems to work fine if I get the merge image set up correctly.

Problem solved! I found it to be easiest to use an old version of Paint Shop Pro (JASC, before Corel bought it) and run a Python script to insert the arrows/circles on the individual image files. I then compiled them into a video using VirtualDub.

The main advantage to me is that I can select any of several shapes and work with them dynamically on one of the images to get the desired appearance. Then I just apply the script to all the image files.

Thanks to all who made suggestions!