By: Animoto Inc.
In this new era, the art of expressing views has changed. Before, it were mere actions, then came words and drawings, and now we have digital media for that. In modern times, both images and videos have become crucial in making our world full of life.
With that, everybody wants to build their own videos, and share them over social media. This can be either for personal glory, proposals, travel logs, weird cats, or anything. For every video, we know they all can’t be perfect. So, we need a way to edit/create incredible videos.
Video creators tools are basically the perfect thing we need for this craze. These cloud-based tools are designed to not only add spice into current videos, but also create new ones using preset stock of themes, videos or images.
In this review, we’ll try Animoto Video Creator. It is one of the oldest player since cloud-based video editors were initiated. Animoto was founded in 2006, by a team of four video fanatics, to innovate video creation on Internet. Currently, they have successfully skyrocketed this service to top level.
Commencing from their home town NYC, USA, they have hosted over 6 million customers till now. This undoubtedly adds to our excitement in tasting this software. With so much hype being built, we hope that it’ll have many wonderful features.
Their services are also well used on other platforms like iPads, iPhones, Android, and even on Facebook apps. This shows they have slowly widened their reach as a cloud-based video creator service. They also own a patented tech of Cinematic Artificial Intelligence, used in their software.
With time, it has become simpler to comprehend cloud-based products. Most of them are built to support a lustrous UI, so that even novice users have no trouble.
Same goes for Animoto, who have incorporated such an approach. The first step for using Animoto is by getting registered on their site. The process is quite simple, but there is one hitch we felt in it.
There was no verification on the website when we make a new account, i.e., no captcha, no email verification, etc. Before some time, on July 2018, they were hacked, loosing many user’s personal information. Owing to this incident, we hope that they take better security measures in the registration process itself.
Nevertheless, one good thing is that Animoto has allowed its userbase to have unrestricted, and non-conditional trial version. In this version, all the features of Animoto Professional are given, except the videos will have a watermark. This won’t affect the video editing features, which are a foremost priority here.
After that, you are redirected to the dashboard of Animoto Professional. This panel consists of a template’s store, mostly for new videos. In this, they have given multiple themes to pick from.
You can prefer any of these templates and to create the videos. In the My Video panel, they have designed the UI such that if users have not created any videos before, it will auto-redirect them to the templates section.
This was a good step by Animoto to help novice users. In the later steps, users are sent to the editor interface, which we will assess later. For now, just upload a video, edited as you like, and then proceed to publish it. So basically, a quick assessment.
After the publishing, you can share them either on social media, or download it. Free users will have a watermark attached to it. Regardless, the software operated hassle-free.
Now that you have a fundamental idea on how the software will work, it is time to explore and review it thoroughly.
With all the fuss going on to decide a top video creator, the foremost thing to be checked is procedure of creating new videos. Well, didn’t you understand?
You know, videos aren't going to be made out of nothing. We need to add something into it, like images, audio, video, objects, props, symbols, etc. Other thing is to use a predesigned template, i.e. replace and edit model.
Advanced users can make their own objects, images, effects, etc. But, we will need some preset templates for novice users. Also, reviewing the stock of photos in Animoto is crucial.
Now, in the template zone, use Scratch from Start button. In here, based on the amount of experience and preferences level, users can pick from multiple preset templates, with a choice for wider or narrow resolution videos.
As said before, Templates are accessible in the first setup itself. From there, users can pick the ones they want for editing, and begin from scratch too.
Unlike other similar tools, they have not given every file on front panel from the start. So, there is a specific filter button here. Instead of that, Animoto has used a direct approach. They have given 5 prominent choices viz., popular, attract audience, share a product/service, tell your story, and view all.
From here, the View All button lists all the templates. There are 70+ templates as of now. Compared to some products, it is still quite limited. This difference may have come due to Animoto not having its own dedicated stock photography site.
Among these, they allow users to select a resolution at the beginning itself. However, there are only two choices, i.e., either 16:9 wide, or 1:1 square ratio. They should’ve directly added resolutions of popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, etc.
Many similar tools have specifically given such diverse options for popular social media platforms. This can be implemented by Animoto too. Regardless, they must make available better personalization features.
Since the stock for these templates is limited, there is no option for filters. Once you pick a template, it will redirect to the video editor. There are many functions in this video creator interface. Let us see them one by one.
This is all in Animoto’s template section. There are more than 100k collection video/audio collection in it. They can individually search for required videos/images from this section.
Overall, these templates are good enough for starters. However, as advanced users, we will still expect Animoto to improve their theme’s stock.
Moving on to the crucial part of the video creator tool, there are many things to be explored in this setup. These can be either editing options, images, videos, adding extra things like emojis, texts, animations, and many such things.
Going through the video creator in Animoto, it is split into multiple parts. Every section has got some unique set of rules. The main options for this interface are Media, Design, Style, Ratios, Filters, and Music. There are some more selections like central editor panel, side upload bar, block adder, save button, and a preview button.
Let us preview, as well as review them one by one.
On to the part where we actually have to input a few media files, this section will sum up the core of this video creator. As usual, media here includes images, videos, animations, props, and such stuff.
The side segment shows an upload button. Just like any other cloud service, users can upload their own files here. Both manual uploads, as well as, drag & drop are provided.
There are two more items with this, viz., favorites, & stock. The central panel has all the media files, and also carry selection button, delete button, and add blocks button.
The file format supported in both media types is limited to the popular ones. This probably include files types viz., MP4, MKV, AVI, JPG, PNG, BMP, GIF, etc.
Once you have uploaded all the files into it, you can begin adding them to the central panel. This can be done directly by drag & drop mode present here.
The top portion of media files reveals total time that these segments take. Now, for the exciting part, use the Add Blocks Button.
The add blocks has choices to input photos, videos, collage, texts, quotes, logos, and burst photos. Among these, burst photos are a unique feature. Try adding as many as items needed. Most of these are self-explanatory.
Later on, if you feel some of them are spare, just use the delete button to remove them. There is also a duplicate button. Use that to create replica slides, without reuploading them.
For the Collage Layout, you are given 7 choices which can be used. The burst photo lets you create multiple photo exposures, more like a movie with tons of images rolling one by one, or like a flip book animations.
Now, use the drag feature to add them one by one in these blocks. The process is genuinely rudimentary. When you hover the mouse on each of these blocks, there are fixed selections to edit them. These are time span, audio, text, images, edit now, duplicate, and delete.
Now from here, we need to check the edit function foremost. In the edit menu, each of these mentioned options can be customized. In the media section, users can upload either images or videos, or pick from the stock folder.
Getty images provides the stock of images or videos. Then comes the trim button. This interface is also optimum. User can use the slider below for choosing the trim positions. They should have shown the size of trimmed video on white space inside the bar.
This is very common perk inside a video trimmer. After you press apply, it will trim selected video, along with picking the audio for the selected video.
The option Scale is used to scale photos or videos. The Slider was beautiful, but adding custom scale size in editor will also be fantastic.
Then, rotate aids in turning the system either clockwise or anti-clockwise. There are no options to flip it horizontally or vertically, which must be there. The crop allows adjusting the video as per the screen width. Without that, the video may look oversized.
One issue we found was related to UI. Whenever we went to the video files, the interface went slow.
Also, the preview is not shown correctly in this window. The sizes for cropping are fixed, and so crop width cannot be altered with custom value. According to us, this must be improved. The color tab adds different colors to be checked for surrounding the file form, but then, it has no choices for shadows, layers, or patterns in them.
One more UI blunder faced in Animoto was strange central video frame. The videos were never played properly in our tests. The area kept flickering like a bulb running on low power, which was really getting on our nerves.
We rechecked it on different browsers, and found same issues on all chromium based browsers. This must be rectified by Animoto. This was added as bug by them. We contacted the support team, and thankfully they acknowledged it, and assured they’re working to resolve it.
This constant flickering was present even in the image interface. We weren’t able to properly view any of the media section. The only silver lining is that it was working from the top preview button, or completely switching to non-chromium browsers.
After this, we need to check other sections too. In the media section itself, there are mainly four types of editing possible. As explained before, these are timer, audio, text, and images.
In our usage of these blocks, we found that there were no unique alterations possible. But, we still have to review them anyhow.
The first tab is for adjusting the timing of animations. This can be set up to 40 seconds. This much time is enough for general slideshows.
But, they have not given animation styles here. Generally, in any type of slideshow maker, timer and animation styles go hand in hand. You can check in other tools like Moovely, Wave.Video, Powtoon, etc.
It becomes kind of strenuous to roam around for these comparable settings. After this, they have a voice recorder. With this, users can add their own voice, like a dictation.
Only con we saw here, was lack of an upload button. Since the direct recorded voices have many issues, good studios use filters to make them better.
We need to record audio, add some changes/effects in it, and then upload them here, which Animoto lacks presently. The only way around was to upload individual slide audio, was via music section. So much for ease of access!
Some detailed effects can also be placed here, like voice softening, reduce chatter, voice pitch control, etc., which we believe is not tough to work on.
Now, on to the next section, i.e. Text Editor. Probably, this is the most touted setup in our view, as a top feature of many video creators.
In the case of Animoto, this feature was mediocre, which surprised us. So, what customization we can do in terms of changing texts properties? Can we change fonts, colors, animation, etc.?
Well, for all this excitement, you’ll be a bit disappointed. This is because the text formatting is quite constricted. In here, users can only input texts, subtitles, use legibility, and change size/color of titles as well as subtitles.
This was too much underwhelming. Many free video makers have much improved text editing feature than here. What is the point of having a paid service then?
Things like change in font type, size, formatting like bold, italics, underline, etc. are too basic to be missed. The slider for a title and subtitle text was not that great. The font types were limited. Overall, it was a mediocre font formatter.
They could have used a text size drop-down list. There were no animation styles too. Many advanced video editors give animation styles to these text like wave motion, jump motion, fade in/out, etc. Lack of such customization only devalues the software.
The last part was the media upload button. In here too, things were limited. They have given choices to upload media, scaling it, rotate, crop, and putting color on the background.
The rotate was only for 90° CW or ACW. No horizontal flip button. The crop function was too primary. Lastly, users can also add color to the crop frame. When you crop the image to either side of the screen, the blank side can be put with distinct color. Also, the text written will be shifted on the other side.
So, these were all the editing features inside the media segment. Other than this, Animoto has not given us further customization. To be honest, we anticipated some sophisticated editing in this section, but were dissatisfied.
Regardless of this, we would still say Animoto has better functions than many similar products in the market. They still need to learn adding more complex setup from Powtoon, Wave.Video, Adobe Spark, etc. With this, we can easily personalize videos, create new slideshows, etc. with ease.
Now, onto the design segment. In above part, we dealt with adding blocks, images, videos, etc., along with customizing each block separately. In here, things are bit odd.
Well, how did you find it strange? The thing Animoto did here, is that they have repeated same editing setup which we described before. The same option to change text, its size, color, position, etc. are given, except that now it affects all the slides together.
The only different choices here were, watermark and font style. So much for a separate interface! Both of these can be directly incorporated in previous segments.
Nevertheless, the watermark option is decent. From here, users can upload their logos. So, you have to design it beforehand.
No manual watermark tool here. We cannot directly add text and pick from tons of themes for logos. This must not be skipped by Animoto. Such essential thing is given in even free slideshow makers, and even products like Renderforest have a dedicated section for that.
For logo customization, we can adjust its position in either of the four corners only. Then, you can change the size of watermark and its transparency. In here too, the levels are preset, and not much change can be done.
The next set was to change Text Color & Size. Both of these were similar to the former ones, with only difference that they affect all slides. After that, users can try the Font Style option.
There are around 40+ unique font type here. Most of them are preset, and users cannot adjust them further. Plus, there is no formatting too. This concludes the design segment of Animoto’s editor interface.
This segment was somewhat more disappointing than the top ones. From a novice point of view, it was enough, but as an advanced user, we felt much better things could be incorporated here.
Going through two main segments of video creation, we can move on to review sub-features in Animoto. As said before, this section was uninteresting, but we still hope to get something useful here.
After this, there is a style section too. In it, they have given option to change the video theme. As you know, we picked a video template earlier while creating this new video.
To change it mid-air, we can use this function. Once you do that, appropriate changes are made in the template. If you have edited something in the original template, it won’t alter them.
Only the graphics of former templates will be altered. It is useful in case you change your mind to have other design without compromising current one. This is all here.
Next part is again too sleek. You can use Ratio Tab for changing aspect ratio of the video created. Currently, it is limited to two shapes, i.e., landscape(16:9) and square(1:1).
There must be many choices for aspect ratios for posting across different platforms. This includes aspect ratios like cover photos, profile pictures, etc. across social sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on. Even modest products like Promo.com have given this feature.
We hope they add this customized filter explicitly made as per the resolution of these sites.
Then comes Filter Section. Like you do all the time on various photo editor apps, this filter also works by modifying colors in your media.
Currently, Animoto has included only 6 filters. This may not be enough for advanced users like us. We can directly use many video editor apps directly to add tons of similar filters, and have customization in that too. They need to offer better options.
Animoto hasn’t given any provision to change things here too. There’s no controlling the intensity of these effects, no option to target multiple effects in same video frame, and such options.
Regardless, the last part of the video creator was Music Segment. Want to dance on a rhythm?
This part has identical features. Users can directly upload their private files or use stock library for adding music to a slide. In here, the setup is quite dull.
You can adjust the time period of music with trim button. Also, use the loop button to repeat the music even if it ends before runtime of video slides.
Only cone we felt here, was inability of Animoto to allow multiple audios in different locations of a video. Currently, it can only be selected from the start and then trimmed till designated point. No provision to divide it over multiple points in a video.
This seems very limiting. Currently, you can simply use an online audio editor tool, and insert multiple audios for different location of the video. Compared to similar free tools, better customization is expected from Animoto.
To be honest, they can simply add audio as one of the blocks, using which we can insert them separately between different frames. But sadly, there are no such choices at this time.
After this, how can we upload or publish a video?
As we move on from creating videos to finally publishing them using Animoto, the first step is to preview these files.
For that, Animoto has given us a Preview Button. With this button, it will pop out a small window, on which we can preview the video we just created.
This window is simple, and you can point out the issues in your video with it. One thing they can add here is segments of distinct slides we added while making it.
Such provision can be used to pinpoint the issues in a single slide. Nevertheless, use the Produce Now button, and begin publishing your video.
In the next section, Animoto will ask you for adding file info like Video Title, Date, Producer Name, Description, Cover Image, And Video Quality.
After this, users can see Animoto converting video in different qualities like 360p, 480p, 720p, and 1080p. Obviously, 1080p is going to take some time. Remember that 1080p is only available for downloading to an external source, and not for publishing over other platforms.
Once down, you can pick the video quality and inspect it. After that, there are four options in this section. They are share, download, details, and settings.
In the sharing part, they have given options to share it across many popular platforms. The top ones are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. You can also find other popular sites like Vimeo, HubSpot, Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, SmugMug, Wistia, and Vzaar.
If you are not interested in using them, use direct link to the video. Here too, there’s an option to either utilize the default Animoto domain or add personal branding, only for pro users though.
Now, how about embedding this into your site? Is this possible? Worry not, Animoto has taken care of that too. Use Embed Video option to generate an HTML code for embedding this video into your site.
In here, there are some advanced options like AutoStart (not recommended), Loop, player-size setting, quality, voice levels, and also button links on the video.
After this, just copy the code and paste it in body section of a page. Going on further, download section is equipped with multiple options to download generated video file.
The format is fixed as MP4 in all videos. Only in the 480p format, they have given a choice to convert it into ISO format. Along with the video quality, you can view the file-size too. We wish they can at least add a few more file formats here.
Users can only view video details viz., title, description, date, producer, and video resolution. Now, there’s an exciting component here.
Apart from usual stats, users can view the stats about number of page views, video plays, etc. too. These stats can help in deciding if the audiences like your content or not. Animoto uses inbuilt trackers in the setup for fetching all stats. These are updated only on daily basis, and so you may not see live results here.
Like we did in the first section for the embed videos, users can decide play criteria of individual links from here. You see usual buttons viz., playback quality, button labels and links, privacy options, i.e., link shareability by the viewers. Remarkable, isn’t it?
With this, our assessment of Animoto features comes to an end. Overall, the video editor features were certainly not as anticipated. Being a popular video creator, we excepted it to be more sophisticated. But, once you have tasted tools like Adobe Spark, Powtoon, etc., the entire focus will shift on comparing video editing stuff.
Animoto must take note of these products and implement such things in it. Even general students cannot make a full-fledged presentation with it. Animoto has to modify many items if they want to be recognized by pro-users.
As far as features in Animoto imply, we were satisfied using them. Animoto is in a sort of middle ground here. Unlike sophisticated tools as in Doodly, Wave.Video, Powtoon, Adobe Spark, and so, they have tried to implement only essential advanced features.
Although, some part of our review hints we didn’t like many functions. But we still recommend it, why? This is because Animoto features combined with the pricing plans it provides are totally worth it. There are similar products in the market which provide much less at this price.
However, there were certain pros and cons too in it, which we have put on the top of this article.
But overall, our experience was good with Animoto. As mentioned, they must try to contain more complex features in later updates. Our main issue was with a bug affecting chromium browsers. Switching to Firefox and other non-chromium browsers solved it.
The editing interface was one of the fastest we have used so far, which deserves an appreciation. They really need to improve their font editor, and also allow manual uploading of voiceovers. Also, the ability to add multiple pieces of music for separate slides must be there.
All in all, Animoto is indeed one of the top product as a cloud video creator. Compared to above mentioned advanced products, if users are looking for a decent video creator without much fuss, they can definitely try using Animoto.