Animoto: A compelling way to tell your story

One of the communication technologies I like experimenting with is video.

That’s why I play with new tools like Qik (live video streaming from a Nokia mobile phone) and seesmic (video conversations via your webcam).

I discovered another one today that I find so compelling that I’m just amazed the whole internet isn’t a-buzz about it (although there is indeed plenty of buzz).

This is Animoto, a web-based service that automatically creates a video from images and music.

That rather dry description does this service little justice. You have to see what it can do to fully appreciate its potential.

Take a look at this:

This video was automatically created by Animoto, using images from one of my sets on Flickr. I gave it permission to go into my Flickr account and grab those images.

The excellent music is a track I selected from the ample music library at Animoto. I can also upload my own audio (music or anything) if I want.

The whole thing took about ten minutes.

You have two sign-up options with Animoto – a free account, which lets you create videos of 30 seconds or less; and a paid account for videos longer than that and other benefits.

The video above runs about a minute and 14 seconds. That was the second video I did, after quickly signing up for a paid account (it was a no brainer at $30 a year, and a PayPal option makes it hard to resist just doing it).

My first effort was a video of less that 30 seconds to try the service out. I simply uploaded a handful of images from my pictures folder, chose some music from Animoto’s library, and that was it – one short video created in less than five minutes:

You’ll note that both these videos are on YouTube. That’s one of the benefits with the paid account – exporting your video to your YouTube account.

And coming soon, according to the website, is an option to create versions suitable for iPods (and iPhones too, I’d guess).

Imagine the uses for something like this service. For instance:

  • Show off your product or service in a new and different way
  • A montage of images of people at a conference set to music
  • A music video catalogue of your art work / designs / fashions / etc
  • A funky music video tour of your favourite neighbourhood
  • Cars, cars, cars (as Dennis Howlett did)
  • … (your idea)

Who’s behind Animoto? According to the about page, they are “a bunch of techies and film/tv producers.” According to a TechCrunch write-up and company profile, Animoto is a New York-based startup which secured funding from Amazon this month.

There’s no limit to imagination.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Matt

    Ten minutes, my arse! What you didn’t say (or perhaps didn’t try), was that a four minute video takes two hours to render. What a freaking pain. Also, the add your own music feature does not support iTunes format music. So, I had to go search for the song I want, go through a bunch of b.s. that comes with all mp3 sites, and finally buy the mp3 version (which I already had in iTunes). Also, uploaded images to fill four minutes, or 12 images, on a broadband connection with images compressed to 600×450 took quite awhile.

    Yeah, it’s a cool idea, and I can’t wait to see my video whenever it gets done in the next few hours, but this is not quick, or easy, if you are doing anything more than 30 seconds, or if your music library is in iTunes format.

  2. neville

    Matt, my experience is exactly how I described it in the post.

    I do notice on the website that there are clear advisories with almost every action that things may take a while depending on how many images you have, resolution, compression, what music, rendering, etc, etc.

    I’m not surprised that it might take some time to render a video from 120 images. (Reminds me of really time-consuming video rendering I’ve done lately on my PC with Sony’s Vegas Movie Studio product as well as with Camtasia.)

    Worth also noting that the site and service is beta: when I created my 2nd video, for instance, the progress indicator when importing images from Flickr got stuck as I discovered when I clicked on ‘continue.’

    As for not supporting iTunes, you’re right and the Help page says that clearly. Only MP3: the universal audio file format. There are ways to convert Apple’s proprietary file format to MP3, as you probably know, including burning protected files to CD and then importing them back in to iTunes as MP3s.

    I understand your frustrations, though!

  3. Doug Haslam

    I had them mix my vacation photos. 140 photos, def. did not take two hours, but did have to wait a bit.

    Definitely worth the $3 USD to do an “full-length” video. I’ll be fooling with this a bit more I suspect,

    I had heard of this show (prob thru Leo Laporte or someone) but your post got me clicking through. Thanks, Neville!

  4. neville

    The time factor depends on so many things, even time of day, eg, how many other people are connected to Animoto at any one time and what’s going on at the back end.

    Looking out for your video, Doug!

  5. Clarence Jones

    Yes, I’ve joined in the fun:
    Considering the horrible quality of most of my scans (& a few were webcam shots of old photographs!), this video of members of my family tree is great! 80 images = over an hour rendering time, but I just surfed away & checked back for the “we’re done” email. There’s a technique (4:3 aspect ratio is best, over-long or-wide shots get cut off some). But even a cheap…er, poor fellow like myself sees the $30/year value of this tool.
    Love & Peace, Clarence

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