Tell Multimedia Stories With Tumblecloud

One of the great things about the internet is that it’s creating new ways for us to express ourselves. From social networks to blogs, videos, presentations and streaming services, there’s something for every personal and professional need. And it’s becoming increasingly easy to share our feelings, thoughts and ideas. Now, there’s a new app in town that wants to bring all these forms together – and it’s called Tumblecloud.

Tumblecloud allows you to tell your stories using text, photos, videos and audio. And you don’t have to rely on your own media files alone – you can find and use assets shared by members of the community and create something compelling, be it a story about your recent travels, an engaging product presentation, an enhanced photo slideshow, coverage of a milestone like a birthday or anniversary, or a multimedia blog post.

Creating a new cloud from scratch

Creating a new cloud from scratch

Overview

Tumblecloud consists of two parts – a community of content creators and an app to build multimedia stories. The app is currently in closed beta and requires an invite that you can sign up to request. If you’ve been thinking of the best way to narrate a story or recount an experience via the web, this is the app to try.

Your Tumblecloud Dashboard

Your Tumblecloud Dashboard

Getting started

Once you’ve signed up and logged in, you’ll be greeted by the Tumblecloud dashboard, which may seem a bit overwhelming at first and so it’s best to first get familiar with the terms used here. A Cloud is a story that you create, using media from collections known as Stacks. A stack can consist of all kinds of media which have been grouped by subject, category, story content, etc.

For example, you could create a stack of pictures from your trip to Italy and another of video clips suited for a video blog. You can put all these together with some descriptive text, titles, effects and even some music from a stack shared publicly by another Tumblecloud user, to create a nice story of your Meditteranean summer.

You can also add information to your profile to let others know more about you and what you’re setting out to create on Tumblecloud. Users can add each other to their lists of friends and send messages to communicate within the app.

Uploading files (or grabbing media)

Uploading files (or grabbing media)

Creating a stack

When you’re ready to create your first story, you can begin by uploading any relevant files you have on hand by clicking the Grab button on the top left sidebar. At present you can only add files from your own computer and from your Flickr account; the Tumblecloud team is working on allowing importing of files from the web and Facebook.

Tagging your files

Tagging your files

You can upload multiple files at a time – doing so will put them all in the same stack. Free users can upload up to 4GB a day and a total of 128GB, which is extremely generous. Most common image, audio and video formats are supported. All your stacks can be set as public (accessible to all), private or shared with a fellow Tumblecloud user for viewing or collaboration (using/adding/deleting items).

Creating a cloud

Creating a cloud

Creating a cloud

Once you’ve found all the items you want for your story, you can begin to create a new cloud by choosing the option from the left sidebar. You’ll be greeted by an empty space called a Workbench where you can begin dragging and dropping items from the right sidebar which contains all the stacks you’re planning to use, as well as a few default stacks.

The creative objects and f/x stack contains items such as text (for titles), notes, and fade effects. There are a few other jumpstart stacks containing audio and video clips and images to help you get started. When you drop items onto the workbench, you can click on them to edit their properties such as text content, audio clip duration and image effects.

There’s no hard and fast way to arrange clips – start anywhere on the screen and arrange items the way you like and tweak them as you go along. You could place a music clip at the bottom like I’ve done, set its duration and then arrange clips above it, stretching them out and adding fades where necessary. When you’re done, just click the Play button at the bottom of the screen to preview your work.

Previewing your cloud

Previewing your cloud

As mentioned, Tumblecloud is still in beta and so is rife with bugs – the text item doesn’t align or allow you to control line breaks, a few creative objects¬†don’t work and the app crashes a lot. Hopefully these will be fixed by the time the app officially launches. It’d be great to see some additional documentation and finer control of elements on the workbench, and perhaps even a timeline for editing.

Communicating with Tumblecloud

Tumblecloud is essentially a presentation tool with a crowdsourced library of media assets. That means you can build whatever you like with it – a multimedia resum√©, an annual report, an illustrated recipe, a photo journal, an app demo/walkthrough… the possibilities are endless. It also helps that Tumblecloud is pretty easy to use and allows you to access your files anywhere for on-the-go content creation.

Browsing the library for media to add to your own cloud

Browsing the library for media to add to your own cloud

Interacting with the community

Tumblecloud isn’t just for using by yourself – it’s also meant for sharing content and stories. When you’re done creating your cloud, you can share it privately with a link – or you can share it with the entire community of Tumblecloud users. You can browse others’ public clouds for inspiration or to learn something new about topics you’re interested in, such as travel, music, film or literature.

A user's profile on Tumblecloud

A user's profile on Tumblecloud

Users can also comment on clouds, just like they would on a web video. If you find a cloud you liked or a media asset in that cloud, you can add the creator of the cloud as a friend, send messages, share stacks and even collaborate on new clouds. This’d be great for students working on class presentations or for friends looking to create the ultimate travel memoir by combining all their photos and videos.

Viewing comments on a cloud

Viewing comments on a cloud

Conclusion

Tumblecloud is a great idea that could open up a whole new world of storytelling for people, professionals and brands. It’s still very much in the works but is fun to try out. My feature wishlist includes major UI improvements, the ability to embed clouds into sites and blog posts and to allow exporting of clouds. Request an invite today, play with the beta and stay tuned for the next step in creative expression on the web!


Summary

Tumblecloud lets you create multimedia movies with text, images, audio and video clips and share them with the world.

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