First Impressions: Animoto

Sometimes editing video can be time consuming. It can also be pretty hard if you don't know what you are doing. In order to lift that editing burden, online services like Animoto want to lend a hand. I've had a look at Shakr before, a similar solution.

All you have to do is sign-up for a free trail, pick a template and throw in your videos and pictures. Animoto kind of figures out the rest. There are plenty of templates to choose from and a range of musical tracks that you can add.

In about 30 minutes I made this:

A quick little video I put together in Animoto

I think this is perfect for:

  • Editors wanting to get some graphics in their video without much work.
  • Home movies (like my example above) and holiday videos.
  • Anyone who doesn't have access to an editing suite.
  • Businesses wanting to make videos without hiring a video producer.

The Animoto interface

I love:

Range of templates and music

As I mentioned above, you won't be stuck for template options. They are arranged by genre to help you get started. You can also listen to a bunch of music tracks and pick the one that'll suit your video perfectly.

Really easy to use

It really couldn't be easier to make a video with Animoto. The whole process is divided into the "Choose > Add > Export" steps so you won't be bombarded with a million options when you get into your account. It should be easy to use and thankfully it is.

Lots of sharing and embedding options

Once your video is done, you can share it on the usual social accounts, you can even export it straight to Youtube, Vimeo, Wisita etc. This way the video can live outside the Animoto interface.

I don't love:

Very repetitive templates

I found that making the video over 3 minutes (to match the length of the song I chose) things get a little repetitive. The template is based on 3 or 4 setups so the video will loop through these with your photos/videos included. For a long video, this can get a little boring after a while.

Browser intensive

When uploading and assembling my media I could tell my computer was taking a bit of a hit in terms of performance. I can't be too harsh about this though as the same happens with a video editing program. That said, I'm on a machine made for video editing, for someone on a standard PC/Mac, Animoto might hit you a little harder. 

Heavily pushing the upgrade messaging

I kind of wish that Animoto let the product speak for itself a little more, rather than have quite so much upgrade messaging. I'm on a 14 day free trail so perhaps for the first few days of this I could use the service without the banners everywhere. Of course, that's how they make their money and I don't blame them for it.

Example upgrade banner

The UI is a little all over the place

I did see a disconnect from page to page across the Animoto site. Some of the really slick intro pages make the service look clean, however in the editing process the style of the service changes. Ever-changing footers and side panels can be a little confusing as a user.

Pricing

I would say that paying for Animoto is totally based on how much you think you will use it. If you make one video a month it's probably not the best way to go. However, if you get a good response from your clients about your latest Animoto production you could continue to use it. I'd imagine it won't be long until you end up having to use the same template one too many times. Pricing looks a little like this:

Pricing - July 2015

In all, I really found Animoto a pleasure to use as it just worked. I can't ask for much more than that. The few things that I didn't love about it could be easily fixed - they might even be working on them already. 

As someone who is proud of the editing work I do, I never really feel threatened by this sort of service as it offers a solution for someone that probably wouldn't have hired a freelance editor anyway. It's a nice way to make a quick edit when you just don't want to launch Final Cut Pro.

Have you used Animoto or a similar solution? Tell me about your experience in the comments!