Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Exciting Slideshow: No Longer and Oxymoron

The wit and wisdom of Dan QuayleMilitary Intelligence; these are popular oxymorons in American pop culture. Until Animoto came along, Exciting Slideshow used to be another one. But thanks to a handfull of former producers at MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and ABC, the words "exciting" and "slideshow" can finally be used in the same sentence without grimacing.
What is it?
Animoto is a Web application that makes it easy to produce stunning and unique video pieces from your photos, video clips, and music. Founded in 2006, Animoto employs the same sophisticated post-production techniques used in TV and film.  At its core is a sophisticated Cinematic Aritifical Intelligence technology that “thinks” like an actual director and editor. Animoto analyzes music, photos and video clips, and orchestrates a custom video. 

End user advantages
Once logged in, users can create a video in three simple steps:
  • Step 1: Select your pictures and/or video. You can upload your own images and videos or select from Animoto’s stock gallery. You can also import media from sites like Flickr and Picasa. 
  • Step 2: Choose your music. Select from your own collection, or choose from a variety of selections in the Animoto royalty-free library. 
  • Step 3: Finalize your video. Once complete, it’s easy to share videos via e-mail, on a blog/website, exported to YouTube, or downloaded to a computer for use in presentations.
Animoto videos come in several different resolutions. Web-friendly 360p videos load quickly and are ideal for embedding, sharing on social media, or downloading to a mobile device. 480p videos are perfect for burning to DVD, and 720p HD videos will look great on any screen size. With Animoto's free iPhone app, student can create videos on the go using their iPad or iPod Touch in minutes for free. Videos sync with your account and can be downloaded for offline viewing. 

Why it works for IT
Anyone with a valid e-mail address and meets the minimum age requirement (13 years old), can use Animoto for free. The free version limits the length of videos to 30-seconds. Animoto also offers a "plus" account for $30 per year which increases the length to one, non-looping song per video (MAX time/length is 10 minutes), and also allows videos to be downloadable. Educators can apply for a free Animoto Plus account for use in the classroom. Within seconds of applying, I was approved and provided a promotional code, good for a free 6-month subscription for up to 50 students. 

How to integrate it in class
One way students can integrate Animoto is by creating their own videos to serve as either a beautiful visual aid for an oral report or an thrilling “trailer” for a book report. Because the editing is in taken care of by the software, students are free to focus on the content and narrative of their videos, mixing in relevant text elements, statistics and quotes to educate and inspire their peers. Another way to use Animoto is to create a video from all the images and video clips from a class field trip or special school event. In addition, teachers can use it to create an engaging video to help liven up a math or science lesson and explain complex concepts. 

Animoto requires an Internet connection; therefore schools with limited bandwidth, or no access to the web at all, are out of luck. In addition, making individual accounts for every student is time consuming. Animoto recommends that teachers register at Animoto numerous times using their own e-mail (such as gmail) address. Then, all Animoto activity under these accounts will be sent to their original, derivative e-mail and they can monitor the students’ activity, while giving them their own account.