Animoto

Animoto is an award-winning computer application designed to generate a trailer-like video clip from your selected photos, videos and music. Animoto is unique because it analyzes the provided content and creates a unique video, with the creators even claiming, “no two videos are ever the same.” Animoto is available for the desktop or laptop, iPhone (using its iPhone application) and Facebook’s application.

Animoto for Education

Animoto for education (education.animoto.com) is a side project of Animoto that encourages educators to use this video creation tool in teaching students. The education community can now enjoy all-access features of Animoto, including full-length DVD quality videos, 1000+ licensed music, ability to import photos from Photobucket, Picassa, Flickr and other photo sites, ability to download finished videos, and the ability to embed videos into YouTube accounts, blogs and other websites. In the classroom, teachers can use this tool in creating an Animoto video for lecture purposes, while students can use this to create projects, group work and presentations.

Since the Animoto interface is easy to understand, teachers can quickly create professional-looking digital content even with busy schedules. Teachers can download the finished video and play it on a DVD, or embed videos on a class website. Students will enjoy creating their own digital stories and be able to finish one presentation in a single computer class. Animoto for education is perfect for all types of subjects, including music, math, science, history, literature and even complex subjects that students may find boring without fun elements integrated into the lesson.

Animoto for education provides teachers an easy way to engage students through visual and audio. It is a perfect anticipatory set for any lesson plan, since students respond positively to new media in the classroom. And since Animoto is a web-based application, students can begin working on a video project in school and continue the clip at home. Check out a fourth-grader’s video entitled “Be a Buddy, Not a Bully” http://animoto.com/education/case_studies#buddy to see just how easy a kid can work on his/her own mini-movie.

Animoto for education is completely free for teachers and their students for six months, but the teacher must register through the website to receive an educator’s pass. However, be aware that children under 13 years old cannot sign up for their own Animoto accounts, but teachers can create accounts for them. You’ll receive a code your students can use to create their accounts. After the free six months, a teacher’s account would expire, but can easily be renewed by sending Rebecca Brooks an e-mail at rebecca[at]animoto.com to ask for an extension.

The best thing about Animoto for Education is that each account is private to the school, which prevents other people from checking out student videos or communicating with your students through Animoto.com.

How to Create an Animoto Video in 4 Easy Steps

1. Sign up – You have three choices when signing up to Animoto. You can play around the basic account and create 30-second videos without charge. You can stay with the free account for as long as you like, but if you find the basic features limiting your creativity, it’s time to upgrade to an “all access” account that allows you to create full-length videos and download video files. If you wish to use the videos regularly, a “business account” allow you to use licensed songs for your DVD quality videos, remove the Animoto branding and redistribute the video commercially.

2. Create – Animoto created an easy-to-use interface to keep the process of making a professional video as simple as possible. To begin a project, all you need to do is click “create video” located on the top left corner. You will then be given two choices – Animoto short (30-second video) and the full-length. Your choice will depend on the type of account you have.

  • Images – The first video element you are asked to add are pictures. You can either upload images from your computer, retrieve them from another site, or select licensed photos from Animoto’s collection.

o    Photo sites – If you wish to retrieve photos from another photo site, you will be asked to choose the source (flickr, facebook, smugmug, picasa and Photobucket). Whichever site you choose, Animoto will ask you to log into the photo source. If you select and log into Flickr, Animoto will list all your galleries and images from Flickr directly into the Animoto interface. To pick which images to include, simply mouse over the “retrieve” option and a check will appear. You can also retrieve images from multiple sites, but you have to repeat this process until you have all photos on Animoto.

o    Arranging Photos – Once all photos are placed on your Animoto window, you can re-arrange the photos in the order you want them to be played in the video by clicking and dragging photos. You also have the option to rotate and delete photos. Animoto also has the option called “spotlight,” which gives emphasis on images you assign to be featured. You can also add an extra box, which you can place in between the images and add important text.

  • Music – When you’re done with the photos, simply click “continue” and you’ll enter the music section. You will have the option to upload music from your own computer, or choose songs from the Animoto library (for business accounts). If you signed up for a professional account, you will be given 8 music genres to choose from, which include Top 40/Pop, Indie Rock, Electronica, Hip Hop, Singer/Songwriter, Latin, Jazz, Classical, Country, and Children’s Music.

After choosing the background music of your video, you can now move to step 3: “finalize.” This section allows you to customize your video settings, such as speed of the video. The most impressive Animoto setting when finalizing your video is the “call to action” button, which allows you to include a link directing the viewer to a buy now page, photo gallery, bookings page and any other websites you like. However, be aware that this button only works if you will be using the embed code. The ‘call to action’ settings will disappear if you download the video.

In finalizing your video, you can also choose the image for your video cover. Once you click on “continue,” you will be asked to fill up video information, such as title, description and producer name. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you can simply turn off the “music-video-style credits.” When done, click “create video.”

3. Produce – This step requires a little patience because Animoto is currently rendering your video. Animoto warns that it could take up to several hours for the production to finish, but they usually take up to 25 minutes for each to complete. Animoto will also send you an e-mail when the rendering is finished. Once the video is complete, you can view the entire project and make necessary last-minute changes, including the music, text, spotlighted images, video details, deletion and addition of photos, or rearranging the order of your photos.

If you’re not contented with the video you made, you can also try using Animoto’s “One Click Remix,” which places your chosen photos and music through its system and creates a completely different clip. This goes through another rendering process, so get ready to wait some more. You can also choose the “Editing Remix” and make changes to the images, music and video settings.

4. Download, Share and Convert – Once the video is finished, you can now share the project via e-mail, blogs or social networking websites. You can also download the video in mp4 or ISO (used for DVD burning) format, or ask to send a DVD copy of your video to your physical address. If you wish to share the video, all you need to do is click the “embed pin” icon and Animoto will provide the html code unique to your video.

Animoto has over 1 million active users, 10% of which are paid users. Basic users, who are allowed to create 30-second unlimited videos, can use the service without charge. However, downloads are not allowed. To be able to download video files and create full-length videos, Animoto charges $5/month or $30/year. To remove the Animoto brand and redistribute the video commercially, you need to pay $39/month or $249/year for a pro account. This also includes over a thousand pre-licensed songs and DVD quality videos. If you don’t want to commit yet, you can go for a pay-as-you-go plan with $3 per full video. In 2008, Animoto opened its doors to provide All-access pass for educators and their students without charge.

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