If you want to create a video for an upcoming event as part of your publicity campaign, or for a product or service you’re launching, and you’re on a tight deadline, here’s a great alternative to a talking-head video where you have to look good.
Animoto lets you produce TV-quality music videos using your own photos, or stock photos, in just minutes. You don’t need any technical expertise. If you can click the mouse, you can create a professional-looking video that has a lot of pizzazz.
I’m doing publicity for my garden club’s annual plant sale May 23. Yesterday, I created this fun little video in less than an hour and uploaded it to YouTube:
How I did it:
- First, I chose my still photos. I took photos with my iPhone at a garden club event over the weekend. We were planting annuals inside teacups to sell at the plant sale.
- Then I searched Animoto’s limited photo archive for photos of flowers.
- Then I bought a few stock photos from iStockPhoto.com.
- In Animoto, I lined them up according to how I wanted them to appear in the video.
- Next, I wrote all the text boxes.
- When all the photos and text boxes were in place on the tiles, I clicked and dragged to rearrange them. One thing that tripped me up: When you create a text box, it appears as the first tile, right at the beginning of the video. Once you’ve added text, click and drag it to whereever you want it to appear in the sequence.
- When I produced the video, I chose one of Animoto’s jazz soundtracks, Blowin’ in from Chicago, from Hank Hirsh.
- Animoto worked its magic behind the scenes and delivered a sharp-looking video with fun transitions.
If you don’t like the way the video looks, you can ask Animoto to remix it for you. No two videos are the same, so you never know what the second version will look like.
Share your Animoto videos
Sharing your videos is a cinch. Add them to your MySpace & Facebook profiles, on your blog, email them to friends, put them up on YouTube or download them onto your computer. I uploaded mine to YouTube, added it to my Facebook profile and sent it to everyone in the garden club. Later this week, I’ll upload the video to the local TV stations’ websites.
Some of Animoto’s founders used to produce shows for MTV, Comedy Central & ABC. They studied classical music in London, played in rock bands in Seattle and developed software in Japan. They developed a patent-pending, Cinematic Artificial Intelligence that thinks like an actual editor and director.
How much it costs
You can create all the 30-second videos you want, for free. Each can accommodate from 12 to 15 images.
An all-access, non-commercial pass costs $30. Or buy a non-commercial three-month pass for $99. I paid $249 for an annual commercial pass which gives me several nice options the two others don’t have. First, I can remove the Animoto logo from the video. Second, I can include a button at the end that lets visitors click and visit a website.
Animoto supports not-for-profits and other humanitarian causes with free pro accounts. You can apply at the site.
One other thing I’ll do differently the next time I create a video. When I produced the video, Animoto gave me the option of mentioning the musician’s name and the name of the song, which I did. But after I uploaded it to YouTube, YoutTube notified me and said I might be violating copyright. It said I don’t need to do anything but I can refute that if I so choose. I decided to do nothing.
Also, when visitors click on the link to watch the YouTube video, YouTube gives them the option of buying the music while the video is playing, which is distracting. Next time, I’ll remove the artist’s name from the video.
If you create Animoto videos, share them here. And have fun.