Make your book trailer with Animoto!

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?

Answer. YES!

ANIMOTO.COM

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.

Going Pro: Animoto Webinar from Animoto on Vimeo.

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!

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34 thoughts on “Make your book trailer with Animoto!

  1. Aside from being a good marketing tool, animoto is another way to preserve and share treasured moments with family and friends.

    It is certainly a refreshing alternative to the usual powerpoint, windows movie maker, etc.

    Thanks for the post!

    1. Hi Jay,

      yes you’re right. That’s why I was kind of dreading making the trailer since I thought it might turn out as the same old thing. This worked out much better for me. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Is there any free trial version of Animoto for me to check it?

    1. Hi Eugene, yes there is a free version of Animoto, but it only allows you 30 seconds of time in your video. Also it will have the branding at the end of the video, so it may not be appropriate for everyone.

  3. For new video makers, this is a good additional option. It wasn’t mentioned that there’ll be ads popping up in the video (much like Youtube) so I guess there won’t. :)

    1. hi Anne, I didn’t see any ads in mine, there was only the Animoto logo at the end when I used their free version initially. I don’t think there’s an option to put in ads like from Adsense. Since the video aren’t searchable you’d likely never get enough traffic to make it worthwhile. Thanks for commenting!

    1. Definitely Corinne! Just try out a 30 second one, and if it works out, you’re golden. If you need more time you can just upgrade to the next tier for one month and finish it that way.

      I hope it helps you and thanks for commenting!

  4. Hey John, you did a fantastic job with the video. I love Animoto and I started adding intros to some of my YouTube videos which everyone seems to love. I have the pro version and I’ve tried a couple of different themes and they do have a nice collection of music. I also have some music that I got from iStock that I tested and it worked out ok.

    I think you have done a fantastic job of reviewing the service and I can’t really add much. One thing I did send them some feedback about was the holiday themes. I asked if they could add some Kwanzaa themes to the collection so if you get a chance to second the notion please do.

    I’m so glad I popped over here to see what you’ve been up to. Best wishes and much success on your ebook!

    1. Hey Ileane it is so good to see you here!

      Haha I should have recognized your intros as Animoto! lol. It’s a great idea to use this service for your that, it just shows how versatile it is.

      I will hop over there today to request some Kwanzaa themes as well. Aside from that I think they’ve got it pretty much covered.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  5. Been thinking about trying animoto for a while. Seems like that could be an easier way to create slideshow videos than opening up an editing application.

    1. Hey Nicko!

      yeah try it out, man. The way I see it, if there’s something that has to have extra special care I can always do it the hard way, but for the easy stuff I’ll just use Animoto.

      Thanks for commenting, man!

  6. I am a newbie, but a friend of mine told me that it is perfect for me. And here you gave so much info. I will try it:)Do you think that it is OK for somebody like me?

    1. Hi Jack, that’s exactly why I think this is so great, it’s a step up from the usual power-points and more exciting. Thanks for commenting!

    1. I can actually share it with no problem. I just got the warning. I think they were letting me know that they were aware of the copyrighted music in there. It looks like the licenses that Animoto has are completely legit.

  7. great job congratulations, more years to come to your blog.. Keep it Up .. Its really nice to read a quality comic.

    1. Hey Henry thanks man. I hope it can benefit your friend. Getting the word out to others is really the only reason I wrote this up so that’s cool. Happy new year!

    1. Sure thing John. I hope you make something cool -and if you do comeback here and leave a link in the comments. Happy New Year!

    1. Hi Jonathan – this worked out great for me, so as long as you really do keep it short you can get away with using the free version. It’s not all too expensive if you need to upgrade the service, though. Let me know if it works out for you, I’d like to see what other people can do with this service!

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