As the COVID-19 pandemic has kept many of us in varying states of lockdown or social distancing, it's become more important than ever to use group video calls to stay in touch with family and friends. Commercial video calling platforms, like Zoom, have seen massive growth since the pandemic started, but although it provides a valuable service, Zoom's free version is limited to 40 minutes for group calls. So here are five video group call services that are free and have no time limits.
5 Best Free Video Group Call Platforms for Families and Friends
1. Jitsi Meet
For a free group call with a similar interface to services like Zoom and Skype, try Jitsi Meet. It's simple to get started, with no account needed. You just click the Start meeting button on the home page, either creating a meeting ID of your own or using one of the strings of words that get helpfully auto-generated for you.
Then you'll be in your own Zoom-like video call, with a URL that you can share with other participants. You'll see a familiar-looking toolbar at the bottom, with options to mute/unmute your microphone, start/stop your camera, share your screen, open a chat window, etc. Jitsi Meet gives free group video calls for up to 100 participants at a time, so it can accommodate even the largest of families! Calls are in HD, with end-to-end encryption. You can even stream live to YouTube from your Jitsi call.
Next up, here's an open-source, peer-to-peer video tool built on WebRTC technology. It's 100% free, with no data collection and no sign-in required. If you value your privacy, this is a great option. It's not as pretty to look at as some of the others, but it works well for group video calls.
You can get started by setting up a "room" where you'll stream video and audio. Guests can then join and chat with you using the unique link you set up. As the host, you can do things like changing the room 's video quality from 0 to 4000 kbps using a simple slider. So you can go with super-high quality if you want, or switch to lower quality if you're dealing with slow internet connections. VDO.Ninja is also a fast, free tool for live broadcasting, with a control-room mode for a producer to manage video feeds from hosts and guests.
If you want to start up a group video chat in your web browser, Spike has the quickest, most intuitive platform out there. Even the most technophobic members of your family will find it easy to use. All you have to do is go to https://video.spike.chat, type in your name, and hit Join Meeting to create a video call in your browser. A desktop version is also available.
You'll then immediately go into your own video call, with a unique URL that you can copy and send out to your family members. All they have to do is click on the URL to join your call. Then you can chat away, with no fees and no time limits.
Next, here's an app that offers more features, but is not quite as easy to get started with. You'll have to sign up for a free account and go through a few screens to get set up. But once you have done that, you'll get access to professional-level video calling, with no fees or time limits.
Although RingCentral has some expensive plans aimed at businesses, its free plan is ideal for families. It offers everything you'll need to stay in touch: unlimited video calls with up to 100 participants, instant or scheduled calls, and a simple web browser interface. You can share files, start text chats, and even record calls if you want.
It can be hard to recreate the warmth and spontaneity of family gatherings when you're all just talking heads in a boring old video-conferencing grid. Gather tries to change that dynamic by creating spaces for you (or your avatar) to walk around in and interact.
The result is something like a cross between a video call and a video game. It's fun and creative, and you can customise the space too, so that you can create something meaningful for your own online family gathering.
Other Video Calling Options
We've picked these five options because they're free and have no time limits, and they're easy to set up and use, without needing special apps or software. Of course, there are plenty more options out there as well.
For example, FaceTime is a powerful free video calling app that comes with Apple devices. It used to be limited to people with Apple devices only, but it's now possible to start calls with non-Apple users by sharing a unique web link. And one of the older video chat apps, Skype now offers group calling for up to 100 people.
If you want to use a mobile app, then try services like Telegram or Signal. You get a focus on privacy and strong encryption, along with powerful features to make video calling easy. But you'll need to get all your family members to agree to download and use the same app, which is easier said than done.
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Download Creative Assets for Your Family Events
If you're creating an online event for your family, like a birthday celebration or other milestone, you can find some great digital assets to help you at Envato Elements.
Download cute family illustrations like the one featured above. Put together a PowerPoint slideshow using a family photo album template. Or if you've got some basic video editing skills, why not put together a video using the motion graphics templates and stock footage, mixed in with some video footage of your own? There are loads of creative possibilities.
You can get unlimited downloads of all the templates, photos, graphics and more at Envato Elements, all for one low monthly fee. Check it out!
Improve Your Video Skills
If you want to create a family video but aren't confident of your video editing skills, try these free tutorials from Envato Tuts+.
Video Editing FAQs
- How do I edit video with Adobe Premiere Rush?
- Should I use After Effects or Premiere Pro?
- How do I use templates in iMovie?
If you want to master After Effects, try our A to Z of After Effects: Tips, Tricks, & Hacks. It's a comprehensive guide to the software, packed full of tools, tips and tricks to get you started.
Free Video Courses: Follow Envato Tuts+ on YouTube
Want to learn Premiere Pro instead? Try this in-depth three-hour course with David Bode. You will learn how to organize your files, import your assets, and set up your project. You will also learn editing essentials like how to make cuts, the basics of editing, audio and video effects, titles, how to export your project, and more!
The Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel is a great resource for free courses, so make sure to subscribe and look out for regularly posted tips and tricks to help you create great videos.
More Resources for Video Editing
Here are more top tutorials and resources to try from Envato Tuts+:
- VideoHow to Edit Video in a Text Editor With Descript (From Auto Transcripts)Duncan Clark
- VideoHow to Get Rid of Mouth Clicks in Speech Using Fairlight in DaVinci ResolveAndré Bluteau
- Video10 Great Video Templates for Beginners in Premiere ProAndré Bluteau
- VideoHow To Make Basic Keyframe Animations in Final Cut Pro XAndré Bluteau
About This Page
How We Picked
We looked at projects and considered all kinds of variables, including organization, complexity, experience required and overall difficulty, minimum hardware specifications, included versions and options, formats, resolution, file size, dependencies and required plug-ins (if any), language options, software versions supported, style, design, and cost. You can read more about how we select items at How We Pick Video Templates to Feature on Envato Tuts+.
Share Your Craft on the Envato Forums
If you've used one of the video calling services featured here, do share your experience with us on Envato forums. It's always good to hear from you and see what you've been up to.
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