I recently came across Animoto. It’s a platform for turning photos and music into professional videos. In other words, you use it to make cool slideshows.
The product uses something called “Cinematic Artificial Intelligence” to analyze the music and photos selected by the photographer. Matching things like tempo, beat, climactic music events, the program automates the process of animation.
The service launched in August of 2007 and the pro photography community launch took place in October at Photo Plus.
Photographers can get free web-quality videos or pay for a subscription service that costs $99 per month or $249 for a year. The professional service allows the photographer to download, sell and/or otherwise distribute the finished videos. The files are delivered via the Web in Mpeg4 format or ISO format for burning directly to DVD.
Professional photographers can also sell or distribute videos online using an embed code. For instance, a professional wedding photographer might offer to license all the images in a bride’s album as an Animoto video for an additional fee.
One particularly appropriate use for these slideshow videos can be found on professional photographer James Duncan Davidson’s web site. He shot the Web 2.0 summit for O’Reilly and used Animoto to create an animated video.
Animoto’s animations are first rate. The co-founders have a background working in cinema/television or working for companies such as MTV, VH1 and ABC.
One interesting aspect of the Animoto videos is that the music offered on their site is automatically cleared for commercial use. Animoto CEO and co-founder Brad Jefferson told me that they plan to offer additional music selections in the future. If a photographer already has licensed music, they’re free to upload it along with their images as part of the process and Animoto will create a video using the photographer’s cleared music.
I tested the pro account. I created a video in about five minutes. It took a few tries to get the interface figured out, and I found the existing music selections a bit limiting, but was overall very pleased with the quality.
The videos are easy to share and look very good.
Since anyone can try the free version of Animoto, I’d encourage my audience to give this a try.
Before you do, I want to make special note of one fact. These videos are not going to offer you the chance to make the typical contemplative slideshow, where each image gets tons of screen time. These slideshows wouldn’t be appropriate for critique sessions or educational purposes. But if you’re looking for a cool way to quickly tell a story or show off your work, this could be the ticket.
For more information on the Animoto service for photographers, visit their website at http://photography.animoto.com/learnmore.html.