Animoto enables photographers to create music video style movies — easily and efficiently. The movies can be embedded on your blog (see example below), downloaded to an iphone, or even burned to DVD. It’s the next generation version of your run-of-the-mill slideshow. Take a peek!
An Interview With Animoto
I recently asked “the guys” at Animoto a series of questions about their brand, their product, and what photographers can expect to see from Animoto in the future. I came away from this interview with a better understanding of the vision behind Animoto, and how it differs from a typical slideshow.
Q: When was Animoto created?
A: Animoto Productions was founded in August 2006 by Jason Hsiao, Brad Jefferson, Stevie Clifton and Tom Clifton.
Q: I’m sure you can’t go into all the details about how the movies are created, but could you share a little about the vision behind syncing the images to the tempo of the music?
A: The creators of Animoto have backgrounds in technology, music, and television. They came together with the goal of helping people share their experiences and stories in a more creative way online. The traditional slideshow seems like an outdated way of sharing events and experiences. Today, with digital cameras, people can easily take hundreds of pictures to document a single even. The ubiquity of online video makes this a natural creative outlet for the modern photographer.
Q: Does Animoto have mobile web access?
A: Animoto has an awesome iPhone application that allows you to create and share Animoto videos from your phone! The application even displays videos you create from home so you can take your creations anywhere.
Q: How many different soundtracks are available to commercial account holders?
A: Animoto has over 300 commercially-licensed songs available at no extra cost to commercial account holders.
Q: Do you plan to offer more export options in the future (mp4 etc)?
A: Right now we only plan to offer what we currently do – mp4s for computer playing & ISO files for burning to DVD.
Q: Does Animoto have any plans to allow photographers to further customize the transition speed/fades?
A: We are always working to improve the product so give us your feedback! We’re still a small team at Animoto Productions but requests have and will continue to make it into the product pipeline. Most of the product features that exist today were designed in response to user demands.
Q: How exactly does the export to YouTube work? Can you make a non-publicly-available YouTube export?
A: We were a launch partner of YouTube’s around their API (Application Program Interface), which allows us to tap into the system for things like exporting video. However, we can’t privately export videos.
Q: Is there a way (other than creating a shorter video) to minimize the file size?
A: Right now there is no way to do that and retain the crispness of the show. However, we find that posting your video to sites like Vimeo (example http://vimeo.com/5018794), which then allow you to not only link a client to your hi-res video, but have them download it from the site as well.
Q: What is the “ideal” size of an image to submit for full-res rendering?
A: If you plan to make videos for DVD or to download onto your computer, it’s best to upload images that are at least 1024×768 (about 100kb per image). We recommend a size of no less than 640×426 (about 50kb per image). Keep in mind that images straight off your digital camera can be 100 times what you actually need for an online video.
Q: On average, how long does it take to render the web-res video? What about the full-res video?
A: It takes about 3 minutes to render 30 seconds of Animoto video. It takes about 15 minutes to render each minute of a DVD quality download once your Animoto video is created. Since we are re-rendering these videos frame-by-frame at a higher resolution, they take longer than the rendering of standard Animoto videos.
Q: If you had to sum up what Animoto is “all about” in a sentence or two, what would you say?
A: Animoto is about telling a story through images and music in a unique and powerful way. Animoto videos are the easiest way for people to create professional looking videos from theri pictures and music.
Q: Why should a photographer who already has a slideshow making program (on their desktop) consider switching to Animoto?
A: Animoto videos aren’t slideshows, they are professional looking music videos. We sequence images to the rhythm of the music to create truly engaging content. Slideshows are boring.
Q: So, in order to create slideshows for clients – you have to have a commercial account?
A: Yes, our consumer offering is for personal purposes only.
Q: Does Animoto offer frequent users a way to “tag” their favorite songs for future use?
A: Not yet, although we are revamping our whole music library very soon. We will have 1,000 commercially-licensed & free-to-use songs by the end of 2009, so we are working on ways to tag favorite songs, categorize them by length/tempo, and other variables that’ll make perusing our ever-expanding music library all the easier.
Q: Is there a way to add your studio logo automatically to the end of the slideshow?
A: If you have your logo as an image file you can add it to the end of your Animoto video so it will appear in a dynamic way. You can use the “Spotlight” feature to make sure it appears longer than other images. With the “Call to Action” button feature you can easily drive viewers to your website.
Q: Can you link to the video without having Animoto branding on the page where the video plays?
A: Yes, we went White Label early this year.
Q: Can you try before “buying” into Animoto?
A: Of course, just register and you get unlimited 30 second videos so you can familiarize yourself with the creation process and the final product before buying.
Q: Who are some “famous” people using Animoto?
A: Vicki Taufer of VGallery loves and uses us. Marketing guru, Sarah Petty, uses us. Kevin Kubota, Kirk Voclain (owner of Pro4uM), and tons of other ridiculously talented photographers use us. On the non-photography front, Ashton Kutcher Tweeted about using us as a Mother’s Day card this year, which we thought was pretty cool!