It's been a really hectic month for me this last March, hence the utter lack of regular blog posts. For this I apologize. Even though I'm was on vacation at my home in Dallas, Texas, I wanted to let everyone know about a really cool site called Animoto.
Animoto's goal is to create Hollywood quality music videos from your pictures. The amazing thing about this service is that it is completely web based combining the open APIs from sites like Flickr, Facebook, and Youtube! The end result is nothing short of entertaining with end users being able to create amazing cinematic slideshows with a hip musical score to suit. So how's it work?
Step 1: Get Your Images
Using the photos stored on your Flickr or Facebook account, the two largest photo sites on the web, Animoto allows you to pick and choose which photos will be rendered in the video. Using very simple concepts like reordering, rotating, adding and deleting, users can easily customize their photos into an album like many other photo management applications. But wait, I thought this was video! Well it turns out Animoto throws an additional editing feature in their tool called "spotlight." The goal of the "spotlight" feature is to give users to ability to place emphasis on certain photos they want to have standout in the video. Though the actual mechanics of the feature aren't well defined, the rendered video typically adds additional effects over a longer period of time.
Step 2: Add a Music Track
Animoto's claim to fame is that it is a company started by a group of techies and film/tv producers. According to their website, this whole endeavour is because of their desire to lock "themselves in a room together and nerd out." Who says big time producers can't like technology? As you will see, this strong link with the Hollywood establishment has allowed them to gain access to the music business in a way that many could only dream of. When was the last time a casual user was given the right to use legally licensed music to create works of art? This is exactly what Animoto does with its solid themed selection of music and audio clips. From hip-hop, rock, indie, to jazz and classical, they pretty much have most of the popular genres covered. And although they have yet to enlist some more famous AAA music stars' tracks, I think people will be surprised at the high quality of the music content. Of course after browsing their selection and finding nothing, you can always upload your own non-DRMed audio file for use in your production.
Step 3: Finalizing and Rendering
I think this part is relatively self-explanatory. All the user has to do is fill out a title, description, and producer box along with classifying the video length. Once “create video” is clicked, a few minutes later, a rendered masterpiece is ready for the masses to embed into pretty much any social network known to man. Something new Animoto has added is an embedding widget that makes it dummy-proof for people share their videos.
Did you know there were this many popular social networks? Apparently Clearspring does.
So all this stuff is great, but what does it cost? Well, at the moment it is free for clips under 30 seconds, but if you decide you like the service, your marketing department has to shell out a total of $3 a video or a whopping $30 a year for unlimited use. Wait huh *BOOM* ?! I think I just heard a proverbial head explode in the marketing department. This is dirt cheap if used professionally! Used correctly, this service could even potentially put some video marketing shops out of business assuming Animoto continues to innovate and add features. In conclusion, this is a service that I will definitely be recommending to Microsoft marketing teams as well as use for my own nefarious projects. Good job Animoto! You still have some work to do, but I'm expecting great things!
Here is a piece of my life as seen through the eyes of a Hollywood drunk.
*broken video fixed*