Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Thumbs Up for New Animoto Video Creator and 10 Steps to Get Started

Here's a video I made on the first pass using Animoto's new clips feature...not bad!

Being that I have been a big fan of Animoto for about a year, (I was fortunate to meet the developers at the YouTube developers conference last summer and got the inside scoop), I was thrilled at their latest technological feat - going from a still shot/photo application to using video clips for their semi-automated video program application. I also noticed some distinct improvements in the functionality, including a very fast conversion once your file is loaded and ready to be created.

Here are the steps to making your video:

1. Create a free account
2. Click on "Create Video." Then select "Animoto Short," which is included with your free account. This produces a 30-second video, which uses 8-15 elements, such as text, images, and video, depending on the music you choose.
3. Next, select your images and video clips, via 3 sources: 1. upload from your computer, 2. select from animoto's own library, which is an extensive collection of images divided by category, 0r 3. upload from another source (for photos only), with selections including: Flickr, Photobucket, Facebook, Picasa, and a site called SmugMug (I haven't heard of this or seen it yet, has anyone tried?)
4. There is an excellent preview function which quickly lets you view your selections beforehand. You can also multiple select by holding down the apple key, if you're on a Mac.
5. An additional menu on the bottom of the upload screen lets you also add a text frame, rotate images, spotlight (this highlights a video clip or images with special effects), delete, or duplicate. Select Done when you have all your images.

This is how your screen looks once you have uploaded your images.
About 12 images or 5-8 second clips equals one 30-second video.

6.You get the Music menu next. Either upload your own, or choose from the Animoto collection. I like to use the collection since I know it's already been licensed for this purpose and it can be time consuming to find free music for your videos. Animoto's collection is organized by styles, such as "Indie," "Featured Track," "Electronica," "Hip Hop," "Country," "Oldies," etc. Once you click on your category, a neat panel comes up with all your music choices, and a preview icon lets you listen to a clip before deciding. Select your song of choice, then select "Save and Continue."

7. Select a video cover screen image - usually about 2 choices appear. Select Continue.

8. Fill in your video title and description in the information box, then select "Create Video."

9. You will get a screen that tell you your video is rendering, and when it's ready you get a message in your e-mail, so you can move onto other projects while you're waiting. I only waited about 5 minutes for my video to render - a big time improvement over the last version.

The Animoto Sharing Menu offers a wide variety of options, including a cool greeting card format.

10. You get a link in your in-box when the video's done, as well as a link for viewing that takes you back to animoto's site. Now it gets really fun. On the upper right are links to upload to Twitter, Facebook, and email. Below the video screen is a comment box, making the interface highly social. And, if you select the blue video toolbox icon on the lower right, you get a wide variety of options, including uploading to your blog (it didn't work on Blogger, I had to go to YouTube), upload to YouTube, remix so that an entirely different rendition is created, etc.

A few notes...for an additional $5.00 you can get a high definition video. Also, for $30 a year, you can get a video of unlimited length and using quite a few more videos and images. I did the upgrade and felt I really needed the additional time on the video and that 30 seconds was too short, but it's up to you.

Try it and let me know how it goes!

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