We come across a boat load of images every single day. In this social age, we share images of friends, happy moments, anniversaries, karaokes, pet hamsters, etc. via email or social networking sites. However awesome or how many images there may be, the standard form of consumption is click and view. That’s too many clickety clicks everyday. Is there a fun way to share and view images?
Team Animoto says Yes. Animoto team has a very nice intro video briefing what to expect from the service. The video runs for just 60 seconds and the visuals are stunning. Let’s see if the service also lives up to the awesomeness of the intro. video.
Animoto has a nice looking sign up form with XL sized fields. However, there is a bit too many fields to fill under two sections. Apart from the common requirements like email address and password, the About you section requires you to provide your first and last name, country, pin code, gender and the birthday of you & your neighbor (kidding).
To Animoto’s credit, they do state that they need this info. for verifying whether or not you are of legal age to use the service. All the fields are mandatory. You need not go through the email verification process and will be able to proceed straight to the dashboard.
Unfortunately, free accounts are limited at creating only 30 second videos. However, they do offer annual subscription options and pay as you go plans as well.
User Interface and Dashboard
The user interface post login is stunning with one of the freshest dashboard designs I have seen. With angles and rectangles, the design looks more like a screenshot from a casual flash game. The rectangle at the top thanked me for signing up & asked me to create a new video. The angle just below it also noted that I don’t have any videos uploaded and suggested that I create one. It’s a little redundant but likely only such on your initial login.
Creating a Video
Let’s go ahead and check out how easy it is to create a video from your pictures. I chose the Short video option from the Animoto originals section to create my free 30 second video.
A small window with a disclaimer, stating that you can create a video that runs only for 30 seconds, is shown. Right from the homepage, this could be the fourth or fifth time I am being reminded of the 30 second limit. If I was not testing the site for a review, I would definitely have abandoned the test drive couple of pages ago. I hate nagging. You can also see a sample video from here, an excuse to display this nag window.
After clicking on Create Video, we are then finally taken to the page (by this time, we have clicked the create video option three times) where we’ll actually be able to create the video.
You can upload pictures directly from your computer, from the Animoto collection or alternatively from online image hosting services such as Flickr and Picasa. Uploading from your computer is very straight forward. All you have to do is to browse for the photos and click upload. The second option is to select the images or videos from the Animoto archives.
After selecting the image option, Animoto offers a list of categories to choose the photos from. I settled on the Nature category.
There isn’t much of a selection of pictures to choose from within categories. Free users are limited to adding a maximum of 12 items to the video. You can select multiple images using the Control/Command key, which is a welcome feature.
You can add text anywhere in the video. However they also count in the 12 item limitation.
You can add a title and a 30 character description to a text item. There are options to shuffle, duplicate or delete items in the edit window.
Similar to images, you can either use music from your own collection or pick from the Animoto archive.
Like in the case of images, Animoto offers a wide variety of genre to choose from.
You can preview the songs and read info about the singer/band before adding it to the video.
Customizing the Video
After selecting a song, you will be redirected a page from where the pace of the video (1x, 2x or half speed). The cover image for the video can also be selected from this page. For the hundredth time you will be reminded that the video will run only for 30 seconds and some images might be skipped.
The title and description of the video can be added from the video information page. There is an option to change the name of the video producer if need be.
The video processing begins and Animoto lets you know that it might be a few minutes. An email will be sent once the video has finished being produced. There is no need to keep the Animoto window open until the video is done and you can even create a new video before the previous one has finished processing.
The video creation process is quite snappy when compared to other video upload sites like Youtube and Vimeo. The final product was really good. The animation was pretty, rendering was smooth and the music was perfect. I particularly liked the way the music sounded: the beats were very alive and did not sound muffled. Videos can be shared directly via email, Twitter, Facebook and Myspace.
Animoto also provides a powerful video editor to remix, edit or export the video to Youtube or Smugmug. Embeddable code to post in blogs or websites can also be obtained from this page. You cannot download the short videos but can do so with the paid, full length, videos.
You can also add up to 5 small video clips to create a 30 second Animoto video.
In addition to uploading images from your computer or from the Animoto archives, you can also add images directly from social networking sites like Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, Smugmug and Photobucket. Except for Smugmug, you don’t have to enter your login credentials at the Animoto dashboard.
Animoto’s web theme is rather dark and some might not like it. Also, with huge icons there is too much scrolling in almost all the pages. There was not any visible difference in the service taking into account the number of personal information I have provided while signing up.
As a business, I understand Animoto’s need to make money but the service is plastered with “in your face” upgrade nags everywhere. The pay-per-video model is a smart idea as most users might not be creating more than a few videos regularly, thereby eliminating the need for an annual subscription.
Except for the nagging, Animoto lives up to its promise of spicing up images and videos, potentially eliminating the arguably boring slideshows of today. For a job well done, fun and creative features, but not without its faults, I’d like to give Animoto an 8/10.
Animoto videos - music videos for your images, video clips and pictures. With high production value motion graphics synchronized to every beat of your music, Animoto videos blow the doors off traditional slideshows; it is time to move past the slideshow and embrace Animoto -free, easy, beautiful.
- Animoto |
- Free / $3-5 per video / $30 yr / $249 yr |
- Animoto Productions