As many of you know, over a month ago I came out with my ebook How to Deal with Stupid Clowns who Don’t know what the Hell they’re talking about!
It was a great achievement for me, but anyone who knows about selling a product knows that getting it finished is really just the beginning of the process. The marketing continues well after the product is done.
Among other efforts of getting the word out, creating a book trailer is a recommended strategy these days. The only problem was I really didn’t feel like firing up Flash and making the trailer. Sheesh, can’t somebody else do this for me?
Animoto is a service that lets you upload your own photos to create a cool animated video for presentations or sales or just for your personal use.
I actually found this site about a year ago when I was checking out the promotion for a new Joomla extension (which actually was free, so it wasn’t exactly a “sales” pitch).
As many do, I tucked the information away for a rainy day, and then I decided to see what they could do for me.
TEXT, IMAGES, MUSIC AND VIDEO
So you can upload your own photos and video clips to Animoto, then you can arrange them in a sequence by dragging them into place -see photo below.
As you can see from the image, some of the slides are images, and some are text. You can just type in lines of text to a limited degree. they give you about 22 characters for a headline, and 30 characters for a subheader.
If I want a particular slide to last loner than others, I can choose the “Spotlight” option, which will make the presentation linger a few seconds longer on that slide.
You have a limited option to control the speed of the animation (ie the slides are shown at a faster or slower pace). You can choose from “slower”, “automatic” (default), or “faster”. I thought mine was showing too slow at first, and it was almost 4 minutes long, so I changed the speed to “faster” to keep it more interesting and keep the length down.
I didn’t add any video to my trailer, but if you had clips you could upload those as well. They support a pretty wide variety of formats so unless you have something crazy it should work fine.
Obviously, most of this is assuming you have the rights to use this material. I didn’t have to worry about it since I was the one who drew it, but usually the problems arise when it comes to the music.
I was all set to go find a free track to use, but then I saw that Animoto offers a library of music that they already own the commercial rights to, meaning you can pick a song from their library and not worry about being slapped with a copyright infringement notice.
Yeah, you might not find the exact perfect song you wanted, but I picked one that was pretty close. I was cool with it to avoid headaches down the line.
PRODUCING YOUR VIDEO
Once you’re all done and you click the green “Produce Video” button, it makes the video surprisingly fast.
It took me about a minute to get the email from them that the video was made. Cool!
Although, to keep things in perspective, I decided to make my video at 360p resolution, which is the lowest resolution they offer. I just didn’t think it was worth it to make a full HD version of it. I wanted to keep the loading time down as far as possible.
Also, I didn’t have any video clips so that could affect the time it takes to produce your video.
Once it’s done, you can show the video directly from the Animoto website, as it will be hosted there. However, all videos on the site are private, according to the site. So unless you specifically give someone the link, they won’t stumble across it. I’m assuming they must block search engines and such.
To that end, I decided to put the video on my YouTube channel. If you want, you can export the video directly to Youtube (or SmugMug if you have an account there).
Assuming you don’t have a YouTube account they do give you an embed code so you can place it on your blog or website if you want.
I actually exported the video directly to my hard drive (it downloads as an mp4 file) and uploaded it myself to my channel.
One thing -when I uploaded it to YouTube I did get a copyright notice. Not an infringement warning, but I guess they were just letting me know that they knew it had licensed music in it.
How to create compelling video with Animoto. This is a technical walk-through of the video creation process at Animoto.
ISSUES AND LIMITATIONS
Of course, I hit upon a few limitations fairly early.
- As I mentioned above, there’s only a limited amount of text entry available. This is probably because you want to create and engaging, moving animated show and not have someone sit there and read all day. Still, you may want a few more characters of text in there. In that case you’ll just have to make the text into a graphic and add it as a slide.
- Even though I did “spotlight” a few slides, sometimes they didn’t last as long as I’d like, so I had to repeat those slides in the presentation just to get them onscreen longer.
- Animoto will end the video when you run out of slides, or when your song runs out, whichever comes first. As far as I know, the song does not loop (I didn’t really test this, though).
- There’s 4 tiers of service at Animoto. Lite (Free), Plus, Pro and Reseller. The Lite version, while free, limits you to 30 seconds for your presentation, so that wasn’t going to work out for me.
I decided to pay for a higher tier of service to get a longer video. Also if you pony up for at least the Pro version, you can make an unbranded video that doesn’t have the Animoto logo at the end.
- Although there are a bunch of different styles of video you can make, some of them are reserved for paying customers.
- When downloading your video to your hard drive, you can only do so in 360p low-resolution unless you pony up for a higher tier of service.
IS ANIMOTO FOR YOU?
Well, I think the “Plus” plan is really good for most people. You can make a hi-def video of any length for only $5/mo ($30/yr).
You don’t get unbranded videos at this tier, so you’ll need to ask yourself if it matters if people see “animoto.com” at the end of your video. If so, you’ll need to go for the “Pro” service for $39/mo. ($249/yr)
So if you don’t have a lot of technical knowledge but you have the elements for making a slideshow or presentation, you can try out Animoto for free and see if it works for you.
If you can do it in 30 seconds and don’t care about the branding, you’re all good. If you need longer and want to whitelabel it, then you can pay a pretty reasonable cost for all the work you’ll save.
I hope this helps some of you get another marketing tool that could otherwise cost hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars. And if you make something cool, let me know!