Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Actually Using Animoto

There has been a lot of buzz around Animoto from fellow Edubloggers over the last few weeks. It is one of those exciting web applications that just throws up so many ideas. It is something that I have played with for weeks and have been keen to get into a classroom and use.

So what is Animoto?

Animoto is a web application that, with the click of a button, produces videos using images and music that a user selects. Using their patent-pending Artificial Intelligence developed to think like an actual editor & director, the resulting video has the emotional impact of a movie trailer and the visual energy of a music video.

What do the Videos look like, and isn't this just Photostory again?

I recently created a simple Animoto of my family, such videos can easily be exported to Youtube, and there is even a Facebook application

This is no simple slideshow tool, for one it is quicker and involves less steps, though it can be hampered by a slow internet connection or by trying to use overly large images. Though positively, as the application is online it can be accessed anywhere and therefore there is no need to rely on annoying school networks (or tech support people to download it).

Animoto is very intuitive to use, so much so that I used it today with a group of Year 3 children (7-8 year olds). We needed some way to show staff and parents our ICT project and creating an Animoto really allowed the children to capture the moments.

Over the past two days I had been working with the Year 3s to create Greek Myth animations, we had used a combination of Digi- Blue and Windows Movie maker. They and I had learned a lot in a short space of time and the children (as ever) amazed me. The last time I had used Movie Maker it was with my old Year 6 class, but these guys were very comfortable exporting AVI files out of Digi-Blue and into Movie Maker before adding titles and narration.

To record the process I asked a number of children to take some pictures using my consultant camera. I placed these in a shared network folder and asked groups of children who were not in my current Digi Animation group to upload these images, arrange them in order, delete unwanted images and choose appropriate music.

The children loved the stock music and were able really personalise their videos by choosing something they though was 'sick'. No two videos are the same they tell us, as the application seem to sync the mood of the music with the image arrangements.

Until recently Educators had to pay for the full features of Animoto, as a simple free account only allows you to create 30 second videos and you are also unable to download any of the videos. In the last few days Animoto for Educators has been launched leading to Teachers being able to make full use of the application, this includes making 'full length' videos. To find out how to create accounts visit the Education FAQ site.

Their blog shows examples of how the app is being used in education and they are keen to find more, well here's one example for you:

Year 3 Animation Project: What we did

And Finally..

Some lessons learned-

Today was really exciting to see the finished output , but in future I might begin with 30 second clips as Full length videos took a while to render into a finished video on the site (are they finished loaded yet Mr Evans?')

I would also take some time to talk with the children about the effects of using different music, both on the effect on the film and how the music makes us feel.

And to answer my question further about why this isn't just Photostory, the main difference is around the look and feel of the finished product. I feel like I am watching just another Photostory when I watch a conventional slideshow, while an Animoto really looks like a TV advert or a pop video .Though don't get me wrong Photo Story 3 should not be binned as it allows the integration of text with images and a greater level of image manipulation and control over zooming in and out of images.


Moturoa said...

I just found out that you can put your Animoto videos directly into blogger with an educational account to cut out the extra uploading.

Our Animoto Video

Anthony Evans said...

Thanks Moturora- yes they can be embedded though this function seemed not ot be working yesterday or rather on a perpetual state of loading. Hopefully the embed function is back up and running now.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anthony,

Rebecca here, from Animoto.

Thanks for the write-up! So cool to see how educators have been using us.

As for your comments, we definitely intend on taking some measures in the upcoming months so that the rendering time won't be so long. I think it averages 8 minutes per 30 seconds of video now. I'm not too sure what it'll be after that, but it will definitely be an improvement.

And we'll also be offer text overlay and other features to make our service have more utility.

Thanks again,
Rebecca Brooks

José Picardo said...

Hello Anthony,

Thanks for your message on Box of Tricks. It's great to see that other teachers are using Animoto like this. You are doing great work.

Can I count you in on the Animoto Challenge?


Anthony Evans said...

Thanks Jose- yes include me in the Animoto challenge!

andim said...

It would be interesting to see how people match these activities to the National Curriculum Level Descriptors. We have lots of opportuninty to ue new media but how do we balance this with the requirement to cover and achieve the whole of the curriculum for ICT. I wonder if people can do this with specific relation to Level 4 at the end of Key Stage Two.

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