Every Photographer Should Be Using This Tool

Few pieces of technology make me giddy anymore, and it is extremely rare a software tool does it.

But Animoto makes me giddy.

Saying Animoto is a slideshow is such an understatement I refuse to do it. It is a very simple tool for creating professional, high quality music videos from your images.

It takes about 5 minutes to create a video and most of that time is image and music selection. If you have your images on Flickr, or Facebook, or other online photo sites you can just tell Animoto to go get them. I created all the videos you are going to see this week from images already on Flickr.

After all the images are loaded onto Animoto you can rearrange them, add text frames, and spot light particular images.

Then you pick your music. All the music I used was from their royalty free library, but you can upload your own music if you want.

Then you click the finalize button and wait while it creates the video. They even have some distractions, movie trailers and videos, you can watch while you wait. Or you can just leave the site and they will email you when your video is ready.

When the video is ready you can view it and if you don’t like it you can generate another one. Either with changes or just by clicking the one click remix button. I did that with one video because I didn’t like a background image and got a totally new mix.

But wait there is more greatness.

It will upload your video to YouTube for you.

You can embed it in your website, and lots of social media sites easily.

You can download the video as an H.264 MP4 file for your iPod or iPhone.

You can even order a DVD made and sent to you.

Drawbacks

Nothing is perfect. Here are somethings I wish were different.

The free videos can only be 30 seconds long. I don’t mind this because to get unlimited length videos you don’t have to pay very much at all. $3 a video, or – and the obvious choice- $30/year for all the videos you want.

Quality isn’t as high as I would like. The videos look good, but they are small. I guess this is a trade off. If they went with a bigger size, then rendering would take longer and serving it would be more bandwidth for them.

They do offer higher quality. You can get DVD quality videos, but you have to pay on a per video basis.

No HD YouTube. I’m impressed with YouTube’s new HD option not just because of the higher quality video – though that is very impressive – but the higher audio you get as well. Alas Animoto doesn’t send your stuff to YouTube this way.

Animoto Gets The Final Frame. I like my videos to end with my url as the last frame. Animoto videos end with Animoto’s logo as the final frame. You can fix this if you are willing to do a little video editing by downloading the video and editing it but that is a pain.

No Action At the End Another great thing would be to have a button or link at the end of the video that would send people to your website. Animoto knows this because when you embed a video they get two buttons at the end of the video that send you to their site. (I actually wouldn’t mind this as much if I could make these videos use affiliate links. At least then I’d make some money if someone signed up.)

Enter Animoto for Photographers

Some of these problems are solved for you if you are willing to spend a little and upgrade to the Animoto for Photographers.

You get the final frame and you get a button on it to get them to go somewhere else.

You get unlimited DVD quality downloads, which you could use to make DVDs or to upload at a higher quality to the video sites yourself.

You get speed control, letting you slow down or speed up the time an image in on the screen. Normally it is totally controlled by music.

How Can Glamour Apprentices Use Animoto?

I’m going to write a whole new lesson for the mini-course on using Animoto in model photography. It should be added to the course and automatically sent to you if you sign up.

The obvious thing is to create a WOW with models. You give them one of these videos of the images from a shoot – with your URL prominent in it – and they will post it everywhere. Some models have thousands of followers on MySpace and all of them will see your work.

Since I’m giddy about Animoto, I’m posting a video of a shoot everyday this week instead of just one image. The first one will be this afternoon.