It’s New Year’s Day in Puerto Vallarta, and chances are your holiday visitors are enjoying their last few precious days in town before returning home. Or perhaps it is you who is trying to squeeze as many beach hours as possible before heading up north. Regardless, if there has been a camera involved during the visit, it’s quite likely that there are a number of great photographs floating around that, unless you apply yourself, will end up in a hard drive, neglected and forgotten. Animoto, a fairly new online service, allows you create stunning slide show videos using your own photographs and musical background, which you can use to post on your website, email to your friends as a “thank you” souvenir, play on your video-capable iPod, or even burn onto a DVD.
Intrigued? Take a look at a 2-minute video collage of a local dance troupe led by Jacobo Martínez, which I offered to photograph recently:
Jacobo and his dance troupe are presently performing a cabaret dinner production called “Broadway Nights” at the Blue Seas Resort & Beach Club on Fridays. For more information, call the Blue Seas Beach Club at 223-1521 x 234.
Animoto is very well designed, making it easy for just about everyone to follow the instructions on the website. It all begins with your jpgs, which should be approximately 1024 x 1024 pixels each in size. You can upload as many as you want. Once you upload your images, Animoto will tell you about how long your final video will be. Based on that information, you can either upload a music mp3 file of yours of similar length (provided you have the rights to use it!) or select a song from Animoto‘s own music library, which offers licensed songs in many different stiles. As long as your song is longer than the anticipated length of your video based on the photos you uploaded, the video will feature all the images. If the song is way longer, Animoto will fade it out automatically.
Once you have uploaded the images and selected the music, the magic begins! Animoto actually analyzes the type of music you’ve selected and randomly creates a video with cool image transitions that match the tempo of the music! You can choose to add text titles to the video, or highlight one or several photos of your choice. Beyond that, Animoto makes all the decisions for you.
Finished videos take a while to render, but once they are finished, Animoto sends you an email message notifying you that your video is ready. At that point, you can download a copy of the video with enough resolution for your iPod, or you can upload it to youTube, or send it to your friends. Animoto even offers the necessary html code for you to embed the video onto your own website.
How Much Is It?
The free version allows you to do a 30-second Animoto short video. But because they know you will be hooked as I am, purchasing a $30 USD all-access pass allows you to create extended length videos for an entire year. Once you purchase the pass, if you are happy with any of your videos an additional $5 USD allows you to download a DVD-quality version of it.
I have actually encoded some of the iPod resolution videos onto DVD and they don’t look all that bad on my standard TV set, so this may be sufficient for many folks out there. So, consider giving the 30-second free option a try. If you are as hooked as I am, you’ll be making your own photo videos in no time!
* Sorry to break the news… Although Animoto is quite magical, your photos have to be sexy to begin with, in order for you to put together a sexy video!