Animoto (www.animoto.com) is a wonderful program to use if you have images you would like to turn into a video. You can subscribe to Animoto for free for unlimited access to 30 sec. videos, upgrade to $5/month for full-length videos, or apply for a free educator account (which needs to be verified for proof you are an educator).
There are several benefits to using Animoto to create a video. First, Animoto is incredibly easy to use. The layout is intuitive and regardless of your technological expertise, the program has step-by-step guidelines to help even the most inexperienced users.
Second, there are some cool themes from which to choose. This keeps you from having to place backgrounds on the screens like many programs require–Animoto does it for you. As your video plays, the backgrounds will surround your photos and create interesting layers and movements during image transitions. The effects are really visually pleasing as the backgrounds move, merge and dissolve.
Third, to import pictures, you can batch upload or just upload pictures individually. Again, both are incredibly easy to do. Once the images are imported into the image gallery, they can be moved around by a simple click and drag, and they can be duplicated, rotated, highlighted and shuffled.
Fourth, Animoto has audio tracks that are copyright free. There are is a good variety of audio clips from which to choose. Songs that do not break copyright infringements can also be imported into the program if the provided music is not adequate.
Last, and most importantly to some, Animoto saves HOURS that are usually spent with the timing of pictures to music, adding special effects and creating visually appealing videos. In many other programs, you have to do all of the timing yourself which takes a lot of time. In Animoto, the video goes through a rendering process that compiles the video and adds the effects. If you are not satisfied, the video can be re-rendered as many times as necessary–and each render is saved until you choos to delete it.
The only drawbacks are that there is only one audio track and a limit of one song per project. If there are too many pictures for the length of the song, the pictures are just cut out of the final project (they still remain on the project clipboard–just not in the rendered video). There is no warning that the music is too short, so you may find a surprise when some of your images are not within the project. The only remedy is to cut some of the pictures or find a longer song. (If you do have audio editing skills, you could compile several songs into one audio project and import that “one” song into Animoto.)
Despite the issue with sound, Animoto is a time-saving way to create videos and is well worth a look if you are planning on any future video projects.