Archive for October, 2009

My review of Animoto

Friday, October 30th, 2009

My verdict: I love this tool.

I love it so much, that I wanted to tell you right away, up at the top, so that you know immediately that if you are considering making a video, slideshow-type presentation, you should give Animoto a whirl.

Animoto logoI used Animoto to make a 1st birthday slideshow for my niece Willow. I take a lot of pictures, and it’s gotten even worse since Willow was born. My family jokes that Willow doesn’t recognize me without a camera up to my face. They exaggerate, but it is true that I have a ton of pictures. I also have a number of short videos, both from my camera and from my iPhone. So when I was planning to make this video, I wanted to find a tool that allowed me to use both still photos and videos and would combine them into one fabulous video set to music.

Animoto was definitely the right tool for the job. A few highlights/comments about what I liked and didn’t like, and the various things that I did with Animoto:

- It is possible to make a free video – Animoto lets you create a 30-second slideshow for free. To do so, they recommend using about 12 photos. That length was laughable since I have hundreds if not thousands of photos, so I opted to upgrade. The two upgrade options were an unlimited video creation license for $30, or a one full-length video credit for $3. I opted for the one-time credit since I didn’t have any previous experience with the tool and wanted to try it out before buying a more expensive license.

- Uploading the photos and videos to use was simple. It also was very easy to move the images around so that they appeared in different orders, and removing images was also simple. I liked the way that Animoto displays an estimated length for your overall video based on the number of pictures and clips uploaded. That was helpful as I was trying to get the video down to a doable length.

- You can use up to 7 seconds from any one video clip, and the tool that they have set up for you to be able to choose and preview that clip works really well. If you want to use more than 7 seconds from any video, you can duplicate that video file and pick another clip. I didn’t have to do that, and I found that 7 seconds was really just the right amount of time for any given video clip – any longer and I would probably have been including unnecessary footage most of the time.

- Animoto does give you the option to either include the sound from the video clip, or not. This was actually one of my only issues with the tool because there were a couple of clips that I included where the sound was very important. When you choose to have the sound in your video instead of the background music, Animoto dims the background music (which is very cool) but I wish there was a way that you could boost the sound on your video if it needed it – some of my video clips has sound tracks that were just a little too hard to hear. Others were perfect, though, so I’m sure that it depends on the quality of the video that you’re using.

- I had some trouble uploading some iPhone videos. In particular, I had some videos on my iPhone that were long. I tried to get them to my laptop to upload to Animoto by emailing them to myself, then saving them to my computer and trying to upload them that way. Animoto viagra lawsuits won in court in 2010 did fine with the full length iPhone videos, but any of the videos that I emailed that had to be shortened because of length, Animoto didn’t recognize. (Apple must give them some kind of weird file format that wasn’t recognized by Animoto.) I managed to work around this by downloading some kind of app that allowed me to save the files as a recognized video file type. (I think that I might have used FLV Player, but I honestly can’t remember…sorry!)

- The other thing that I want to mention is that there is no obvious “save” button on Animoto. The “done” button serves as the “save” button, though – so click it often! I was scared of the “done” button the first time that I was using the app, I was afraid that I really had to be done to click it, and I ended up losing a bunch of my work once when my laptop crashed. So use “done” as “save” – you’ll be able to go back and edit.

- The music upload was also fairly straightforward. If you have a shorter video, Animoto will shorten your music clip to match the length of your video. If you have more photos/videos than the length of your music, Animoto will shorten your video to match the music. This was a problem for me. I wanted my video to be as long as it needed to be to fit all my pictures and videos, so I ended up having to come up with music that was almost 10 minutes long. There are no songs that are that long that worked for a 1st birthday soundtrack, so I ended up having to splice together three songs so that they were one music file. I would have loved if it Animoto did that for me, but I used a tool MP3 Cutter Joiner that worked perfectly.

- Once those steps are done, you basically finalize the video and send it to Animoto to work its magic. My video was almost 10 minutes (which is the max length that they allow, by the way) so it took some time for my video to get mixed together and finalized, so if you are doing something last-minute, keep that in mind.

- Once the video was done, I was able to watch it and go back and make edits to anything that I wanted. I liked this a lot – I ended up making 8 different versions by the end, trying to get all the music and transitions just perfect. Not everyone is that insane, but I liked the option to be able to continue to remix until it turned out just right.

- In the middle of the process, I discovered the Animoto iPhoto app, which allows you to make videos on your phone (totally easy, I tried it) and you can watch the videos on the iPhone with the app, too.

- Once my video was complete, I had the option to buy a full length video, which I did (it was around $21) – it came in the mail in about 4 days. I also have the files so that I can burn DVDs on my computer – once I figure out how to burn a DVD with an ISO file so that it plays on my TV (anyone have any tips???)

- Finally, I was able to embed the video on a Website very easily – just the same way that I would embed a YouTube video. It was a piece of cake.

I can’t say enough about this tool – it’s awesome. And if you want to see the finished product, send me an email and I’ll send you the link.

Happy Birthday Willow!

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

This is a personal post, unrelated to the Internet, and I don’t often write this type of post on this blog, but I thought I would make an exception. Today is my niece Willow’s first birthday. It’s practically a national holiday in my family as grandparents from both sides of the family are driving and flying into town for the party. I can’t believe a year has passed, and I just wanted to take a quick minute to say Happy Birthday to my first niece, who I love to pieces. Willow, you make everyone HGH around you so happy. You are so cute the way you laugh when your mom’s hair tickles your face, the way that you wave your hands around when you get excited to see someone or something that you like, and the way that when you’re really concentrating, that tongue that your daddy passed down comes out to play. You were such a good baby, and you’re such a fun one-year-old. I can’t wait until you grow up and read this and know that everyone loved you from the start. Happy Birthday! xoxoxo

Melissa and Willow

My review of Tweetie 2.0

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Tweetie 2.0 iconI am a big fan of the Tweetie iPhone app as a way to manage Twitter on my iPhone. So when I heard that Tweetie 2.0 was being released – and that it is awesome – I quickly downloaded it. This is despite my brother’s horror that I would pay for any iPhone app. To me, a good app is well worth the $2.99.

I’ve been using it for about a week, and I really do love the upgrades. My favorite new features are:

- The way that Tweetie 2.0 “remembers” where you were the last time that you were using it. I can pick up my Tweet stream where I left off, which is how I like to use Twitter, so that is perfect for me. They call this “persistence.”

- The added ability to retweet a post without having to go into the post itself. (In the previous version, you had to “open” the Tweet, and then the only option was to “Repost” – which didn’t use the common “RT @mchang16:” format.)

- The cool interface changes of a blue light indicating when I have new  messages, new direct messages or new @ replies, and the way that you load additional messages by pulling down to refresh.

Nearby Tweetie 2.0- Although I haven’t figured out a way to really use this feature yet vigrx vs vigrx plus, I love that I can see all the most recent Tweets that have happened “nearby” – it’s very interesting to see how many (in Beverly, where I live) or how few (in Topsfield, where I work) people are using Twitter. I could see how this feature might come in handy if I was somewhere new and wanted to write to ask someone for a local tip, although I haven’t used it that way just yet. Also, I found out that there is a death metal record label right down the street from my house in Beverly – totally interesting.

 – The ability to manage multiple Twitter accounts is the reason that I fell in love with Tweetie to begin with, and the 2.0 version has only simplified the way that you can toggle between multiple accounts, apply changes to multiple accounts, and to send messages from one account when you’re reading messages in another.

I have always loved Tweetie and found it the best app for managing Twitter on my iPhone, and Tweetie 2.0 is a significant and awesome upgrade that I highly recommend.

THE ONLY THING IS – I have a question that I can’t seem to find an answer to anywhere – if anyone knows, please leave a comment! What are these numbers (pictured below) that show up on someone’s profile page?

What are the numbers on my profile page in Tweetie 2