Friday, May 7, 2010

EB Friday Hotlist: Animoto

This week's site is perfect for sellers on any venue, not just Etsy.  If you have a YouTube account or have browsed the channels of fellow crafters before, you've probably seen the PowerPoint presentation turned video used as a promotional tool.  If you're not sure what I'm talking about, see below:

Simple in style and not that fantastic visually, right?  But it's a common way of making YouTube videos so I learned how to use Windows Movie Maker to put the slides into a video format.  Then one of my Twitter friends, Finding Charm, shared a video that she'd made with Animoto and I instantly decided to never make a PowerPoint video presentation of my work again.  Animoto is an online video generator that takes your images and/or video clips and makes a graphic montage which you can set to music.

The difference between Animoto and making your own videos with PowerPoint and Windows Movie Maker is quality.  Animoto doesn't kick out a generic slideshow, but uses visually stimulating effects to highlight your pictures.  Let me show you what I'm talking about.  You've seen the video above that I made myself.  Now check out this video made with Animoto using just my product pictures I uploaded to the site:

See the difference?

I use the free account on Animoto because it fits my budget nicely.  With a basic account you can make as many 30 second videos as you like and select music from the library that complements the work you're showcasing.  You can't download the videos directly to your computer, but you can use the export function to send your videos instantly to YouTube.  (And for those who don't know, there are plenty of ways to download video content from YouTube to your computer if you find that necessary.)  If you don't think 30 seconds is enough, you can opt to pay per video, getting full-length movies for $3 or DVD quality full-length movies for $5.  You can also subscribe to one of their plans.  The $249/year professional package is probably more than any artisan really needs to promote their work but you do get a commercial license and a whole slew of licensed music to go along with your videos.  The more reasonable option is the $30/year All Access Pass.  The pass gets you unlimited full length videos and allows you to use a little bit longer video clips.  It's still not what I recommend since you would have to make 10 full length videos during the year for it to pay for itself, but if you really have a lot of work to showcase it could work out well for you.  $2.50 per month is what the cost boils down to - not much more expensive than the yearly fee for a pro-Flickr account.

To make a video, you select your theme (I use the Animoto original which sets the speed of your slideshow to the tempo of the music you select), upload pictures and/or video clips, and select music from the sound library.  Animoto does the rest for you.  Once the video is finalized, you're free to export it to YouTube.  The process is very user-friendly and easy to navigate.

I highly recommend using Animoto for your next promotional video.  I have yet to come across another site that makes slideshows this attractively for free.

Do you have a YouTube account?  Subscribe to my videos here:  Be sure to also leave a link to your account in the comments!

Until next time,