With the increasing availability of digital cameras through price reduction and integration into other gadgets, it’s easier than ever to get your hands on something that takes pictures. Most youth these days have some kind of online photo album, whether it’s with Flickr, Facebook, Photobucket, or another site. One way for students to showcase the photographic documentation of their work is through a photoblog. In an earlier post, we reviewed Scrapblog, which, while providing a lot of options for customizing layout, content, and design, isn’t terribly dynamic when played back as a slideshow. It also offers the potential for a lot of fussing to get things “just so.” Sometimes you just want a quick and dirty slideshow creator that offers some pizzazz for a short promotional piece or rapid assembly for a study aid. That’s when you want Animoto.
The free (basic) version of Animoto’s web application allows you to create a themed 30-second slideshow with music and titles. That’s it. When I first started playing around with the app, I found it very simple and very limited, especially if you’re used to having the kind of control that a video editing program delivers, such as choosing how long a particular image is displayed, the length of a transition, etc. But this weakness can also be a strength; instead of having to allot a few weeks of time for a carefully crafted video piece, you can have a polished-looking clip done in less than an hour — in fact, I was able to upload and assemble my media, add titles and music, and render and publish the sample below in less than 15 minutes. Speaking of media, you can upload from your computer or link your Animoto account with the usual media hosting services. Animoto also has a stock photo and video library that you can access for additional media assets. Rearrange your pictures, add titles, add some music (they have a decent-sized library to choose from, or you can upload your own), and you’re done. Finished movies are provided with an Animoto-hosted embed code, or you can export to YouTube.
Sample Classroom & Youth Program Applications
- Science: In small groups, students are assigned a review topic and create a brief presentation with pictures and key facts to act as a study aid for an exam.
- English Language Arts: Students create an advertisement for their independent reading book.
- History: Students use primary source documents to inform and illustrate a brief advertisement appropriate to the time period of study. For example, they could develop an abolitionist public service announcement, create a promotional piece for the transcontinental railroad, or develop a propaganda piece that illustrates Japan’s reasons for fighting in WWII.
- Health: Students research a health issue in their community and create a brief public service announcement with facts, prevention tips, and community resources for treatment.
- College and Career Planning: Students research a career field that interests them and create a brief slideshow sharing educational/training requirements, salary, prospects for growth, etc. Pool all student videos together to serve as a resource for your next cohort of students. Can also have students research colleges and universities instead.
- Price Structure: Free and Premium
- Very simple interface
- Includes free stock photos, footage, and music tracks
- Slideshows can be constructed very quickly
- Slideshows limited to 30 seconds/12 images with the free account
- Lots of prompts throughout production process to upgrade to a premium account
- Need paid account to adjust timing of individual slides
Do you use Animoto with your youth? Do you have any activity suggestions, tips, or tricks to share? Comment below or contact us!