I have been meaning to write a post about Animoto
for a long time. Animoto, in their words, “automatically produces beautifully orchestrated, completely unique video pieces from your photos, video clips and music. Fast, free and shockingly easy.” I’d seen it out there on the Interwebs, and had even watched a few finished videos, but today was the first day in a while that I’ve had a chance to give it a try for myself. I give it 4.5 out of 5 Apples (the ease of use and elegance scale).
It took about 10 minutes to go from heading to Animoto
to receiving an email that my video was ready for consumption. I had to take a few minutes off of the actual time since I didn’t have the images ready to go (nor did I really know what photos I’d use), but creating a free 30-second video was about as easy as it gets.
I uploaded 15 pictures quickly and easily (thankfully all at once and not one-at-a-time like many other photo uploading procedures), into their project organizer. With this, you can set the sequence of the images, add text titles and subtitles and other functions like rotating pictures, shuffle the order, and “spotlight” an image. You can use your own photos, choose from their stock images, or get images from another site if you use Flickr, Facebook, SmugMug, Picasa & Photobucket.
The next step is adding music. The site guides you through the process very well with BIG tabs on the left to show you the order of production. You can select music that they have, or upload your own. They do have quite a good selection of different genres of music with enough options to satisfy most tastes and moods, but not so many choices as to overwhelm. Since I was showing a lot of scenery, I went with a nice classical piece from Mozart.
The next step is the easiest of all… When you tell Animoto to produce your video the robots, or Oompa-Loompas, or the dancing brooms from Fantasia look at your photos, text and music and create a totally unique movie from what you give it. They claim that each one is different – I obviously can’t confirm that, but the product is quite engaging and fun. They email you a link to your video that you can then share with your friends, or send to your teacher to put the rest of the class to shame (unless they TOO used Animoto).
A free account will allow you to make 30 second videos. You can purchase a “credit” for 3$ to make a single full-length video, or you can purchase a one-year “All You Can Eat” account for $30. Animoto does allow you to apply for a free pro account for “a cause”
. I have applied for one for educational purposes… I’ll let you all know if education is a good enough cause or not.
All in all, it’s a great, easy and free alternative to the tired PowerPoint presentation. 30 seconds is a little short to effectively get a point across (but that might be a good limitation for some student and teacher projects), and $3/$30 is just too much for access for even one classroom full of kids. The Great-Easy-Free trifecta is one that I am constantly looking for to share with my teachers. Animoto comes very close to that hallowed ground.
Update on March 4, 2010: Since I wrote this, I found a few more intriguing alternatives to PowerPoint: Prezi
& 280 Slides
. Check them out!