Launch a web browser and visit Animoto's website. When the site loads, click the Get Started button and at the next screen click the Try Now button at the bottom of the ‘lite’ column. Create a free account by filling in your name, email address, password and so on (or use your Facebook credentials, if you have a Facebook account) and then click the Sign Up button. At the next screen, click the Get Started button and then have a look at the different styles on offer. Those marked ‘Pro’ must be paid for, but any of the others work with the free version.
Preview a theme by clicking its thumbnail or click the Create video link underneath to get going. When the window opens, choose the ‘make a 30 second video for free’ link on the right and then at the next screen, click the big blue Upload button to grab pictures from your computer. Alternatively, click one of the two Retrieve buttons to gather photos already stored on popular services such as Facebook, Flickr, Picasa and Photobucket. Remember that free shows are limited to 12 photos.
Use the Browse dialogue box to find the photos to add – remember that holding down the Control (Ctrl) key allows you to select more than picture at a time – and when done, click Open to upload all the selections at once. After a short while, the photos will appear in the main Animoto window. Don’t like the slide order? Just click on a slide and drag and drop it to a new position with the mouse pointer. Here we’ve moved one of the slides to the beginning.
See the little toolbar along the bottom? Use the buttons here to add more photos, create ‘spotlights’ around photos, rotate them, duplicate images and so on. Use the ‘add text’ button to create a title slide for the show by filling in the two fields for the title and subtitle.
After that, click the Music tab at the left to add some background music. Although it’s possible to upload music from your computer, it’s quicker and easier to use something from Animoto’s library, so click Select.
Clicking on a musical category will open a new screen displaying a selection of music tracks. Audition a track by clicking Play. Find out more by clicking Info and choose the track by clicking Select. Having chosen the music, select the Finalize tab, click the Continue button and then at the next screen add a title and description (this is different to the slideshow title from Step 3) and click Create Video. Animoto will now prepare the finished video slideshow, complete with title and all the transitions supported by the chosen theme.
After a minute or two the finished video appears, ready for playback. When it appears, click the Download button, choose MP4 at the next dialogue box and click the Save button to copy the video slideshow to the computer’s hard disk. Alternatively, from the same screen click any of the buttons above the video window to share the video on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube, following the instructions for each. Know a bit about HTML or run your own blog? Click the Embed button and then copy the code that appears in the resulting dialogue box. Then paste it into your website at the appropriate point.