March 14 2008
Create Great Videos from Your Photos for Free
Animoto.com is a simple and quick way to create videos from your photos. It is easy and fun. The results are amazing. If you don’t like the first try just click a button and redo the mix, change the background music, and even add more photos. If you have a Flickr account Animoto.com will retrieve your photos from there once you give permission. This also works with Facebook, Smugmug, Picasa, or Photobucket.
FREE accounts are limited to creating videos of 30 seconds or less. You can include 15 to 20 photos in one of these. Tip: If more upbeat the music is used more photos will be displayed. When selecting slower music fewer photos fit in those 30 seconds. If you add too many photos to a 30 second video some will not be displayed. A paid membership ($30.00 per year) allows you to make full length videos where the number of photos and beat of the music have little or no effect. When starting my three month test of full length videos and the overall operation of Animoto.com I added over 135 photos for one of my creations.
Once the photos are either uploaded from your computer or retrieved from your Flickr, Facebook, Smugmug, Picasa, or Photobucket photo storage site you can then delete, rotate, or spotlight them. These sites appear to be the quickest way to get the photos to Animoto. NOTE: Uploading from your computer will be faster if you reduce the size of your photos first. Only JPEG or GIF files are acceptable at this time. Spotlighting (highlighting a photo with a yellow outline) tells Animoto to feature those shots in your video.
The next step is to add music. There are a number of songs available on the site or you can upload your own music as long as it is free of copyright issues. Animoto only supports MP3 music files. Hopefully Animoto will continue to add tunes and broaden the range of music types as the selection needs to be expanded. The last step is to click FINALIZE. That starts the creation process. After a few minutes, depending on site traffic and length, your video will be complete. It is not necessary to stay on the site during creation. You will receive an email letting you know the video is done. Just log back in and play it. If not happy press REMIXES and change the options as needed. REMIX again. Just pressing REMIX without changes will make a video that has a different look while retaining all previous settings.
From their site you can e-mail a link to your video to anyone, download your videos to your own computer, or export your videos to your YouTube area. Other options are in the works. These videos are MP4 files that play in QuickTime. They would not run in Windows Media Player in their native format.
How do the completed videos look? Here is a link to the four I have uploaded to YouTube.
Quoting Animoto from their site FAQ:
“How much will a full-length video cost me?
Animoto Shorts are free. You can make, share, and remix as many as you want. Producing a full-length video costs $3 and includes the ability to download the video to your computer. You may buy as many individual full-length video projects as you wish. An All-Access Pass, which allows you to make an unlimited number of full-length videos for one year, costs $30. With an All-Access Pass, you can download any of your videos, whether they're Video Shorts or Full-Length videos. “
They do limit the size of full length videos to reduce overuse by those who might do so.
I like the service. There are many help boxes available as you move through the site. E-mailing a link is easy. I downloaded my test files so I could have them on my system. The exporting to YouTube option was not available at that time so I just uploaded them to my travelswithharry YouTube account from my computer. I will test Animoto.com’s export to YouTube option soon. Exporting to FaceBook or MySpace is also available as is posting online using “embedded code” provided by Animoto.
Click here to try it. YOU may get addicted.