Those of you that have been following my adventures for a while know that I put my heart, soul and mind into social media. Since writing my own blogging platform a decade ago (the billion dollar idea that I never capitalized on…) to my almost-obsessive fascination with brand interaction on channels like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, I am constantly observing and strategizing ways to make the interaction and engagement between companies and customers better through social media. I have spent quite a bit of time over the last couple of years consulting businesses of all types and sizes regarding their engagement (or lack thereof) within these online communities. From Fortune 100 companies that distribute hardware all around the world to non-profit agencies that are doing their best to make a difference in the world, I have worked with groups to lend insight, support, ideas and action to social media programs. Given all of that, I’m quite pleased to announce that I have taken a new role within the industry.
Animoto, the online mashup service that brags about being “the end of slideshows” has rolled out some pretty neat features for the new year. You can use animoto to create professional looking videos in a matter of minutes simply by uploading a few pictures and your favorite music track, or use the pre-selected music from the Animoto website. If you have been meaning to share the thousands of photos that you have stored on your laptop but haven’t found a good way, here is how:
- Sign Up
It’s pretty quick, and it’s free if you only want to produce 30-second shorts. For more involved projects the pricing starts at $3 per video and goes up to $249 for a year long commercial account. If you’re just trying to take some pressure off from the recent weekend road trip that everybody wants you to publish, the free account should work just fine. If you are going to make more than a handful of full-length videos over time, at $30/year the All-Access Pass is a pretty good deal.
- Select Your Pictures
This is really as simple as browsing on your computer and selecting multiple pictures at one time. The :30 free videos will accommodate about a dozen pictures and make a nice production. Don’t worry about selecting the order, you can change this later.
- Choose Your Music
You can upload your own music to Animoto (assuming that you have the rights to publish the music), or you can select a track from their collection. Eight different genres are offered, like Hip Hop, Latin or Indie, and each genre has about a dozen different songs to choose from. Chances are you haven’t actually heard of any of the artists or songs in the Animoto collection, but they are surprisingly good nonetheless. You can play a preview of the track before selecting it an moving on.
- Final Tweaks
The last screen you go to will allow some customization of your video. If you are making a full-length video you can change image pacing by selecting 1/2 speed or 2x speed, depending on how you want the final product to feel. You can also choose an image for the video cover screen from the pictures that you uploaded earlier. After you enter some video information (title, description and your name) you click the “create video” button and let Animoto do its magic
That’s it! After a few minutes of rendering you are published. I recommend looking at the final video to see how the transitions worked out for you. If you want to make some changes just click the “remix this video” button and change or remove pictures, music and transitions. If you think you are happy with what it looks like, you have a lot of publishing options. The easiest is to just keep the video hosted on Animoto and send a link to your friends, but you can also email it, download it, get code to embed it in your blog or upload it to YouTube.
- Animoto On The iPhone
New for 2009 is the Animoto iPhone app. It’s free, and it works incredibly well. Pick out the photos you like off of your iPhone’s library, select music just like you would from the regular online service, and let it render. In just a few minutes you have a :30 video that you can email to your friends to watch online. This is a really amazing way to share your vacation pics, and to finally get your parents off of your back because you never send them pictures. You can snap photos, render and email in less than five minutes.
Animoto makes all of your photosharing easy and enjoyable, and with the addition of the iPhone app it is easier than ever to create on-the-fly presentations to share. If you have come up with creative ways that you are using Animoto, let us know in the comments!