Automated Video Production

How good is good enough?

We’ve all been there: A client asks for a job that requires complex editing and effects, and they say (as part of the negotiation over price): “Don’t you have software where you press a button and it does it automatically?”

The latest “proof” a client needs is the new Animoto service: You upload a series of still images and an MP3 soundtrack (or select from their music), and it creates a music video out of your content, including a bunch of whizzy transitions (no simple slide-show crossfades here) timed to the soundtrack. Although some see it as something akin to the next evolution of the virtual greeting card (click here for an LA Times blog on it – registration may be required), Animoto’s pricing sheet includes a Business Use category, and their touted features include the ability to embed text to “Insert product information, marketing messaging, or narration to your story using your Animoto videos. Not boring caption-like text – but rather text the way it’s done in TV and film.”

Of course, a good editor or animator can’t be replaced by automated software…at least, for discerning clients with a budget. As budgets get tighter, and expectations grow lower (thank you, YouTube), we may all be surprised to find out how little is “good enough” for some clients, for some jobs. Something like Animoto may be a boon to a startup looking to get some dynamic media up on their site or to start a viral web video campaign with very little effort and expense.

Although I applaud Animoto and find it great fun, on a more serious note you better be prepared in 2009 to sharpen your sales pitch on how important a customized, targeted video is in order to help your client lift their message above the increasing noise floor of a YouTube/Animoto world.

(By the way, the videos in this post were created using Animoto, featuring some shots I snapped from the mountains around our new home & studio. The movie below is its first attempt; the movie up top was after a few “remix” attempts as the suggested 12 photos turned out to be too many to fit into the 30 second soundtrack I edited from my album Lucid Dreams.)

The content contained in our books, videos, blogs, and articles for other sites are all copyright Crish Design, except where otherwise attributed.

Chris and Trish Meyer

Chris & Trish Meyer founded Crish Design (formerly known as CyberMotion) in the very earliest days of the desktop motion graphics industry. Their design and animation work has appeared on shows and promos for CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, HBO, PBS, and TLC; in opening titles for several movies including Cold Mountain and The Talented Mr. Ripley; at trade shows and press events for corporate clients ranging from Apple to Xerox; and in special venues encompassing IMAX, CircleVision, the NBC AstroVision sign in Times Square, and the four-block-long Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas. They were among the original users of CoSA (now Adobe) After Effects, and have written the numerous books including “Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects” and “After Effects Apprentice” both published by Focal Press. Both Chris and Trish have backgrounds as musicians, and are currently fascinated with exploring fine art and mixed media in addition to their normal commercial design work. They have recently relocated from Los Angeles to the mountains near Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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