Came across a PBL posting today about having students use various tools to document the research, progress and results of physical science and chemistry projects. One of the tools mentioned is Animoto, an online program that “automatically produces beautifully orchestrated, completely unique video pieces from your photos, video clips and music.” It claims it is “fast, free, and shockingly easy.”
One of the case studies that I found in the education section was of students documenting the design process for a bridge building competition … not so different from some of the earlier projects that our students do. With that in mind, I decided to give it a try to see if it was something that would be easy enough for our students to use … i.e. little or no learning curve that might take time away from the main task at hand .
The sign-up process was straight forward and fast … with in a minute or two I had started making my 30 second video. The free access only allows videos to be 30 seconds, but you can apply for an educational license that allows you to create longer ones.
I chose five pictures from the ample supply of stock photo. It took me a minute to figure out how to select multiple pictures, but when I actually read the notes on the right side of the screen, the instructions were there … nothing too difficult, just hold the Ctrl key like in most Windows applications. The tool bar at the bottom of the image selection area allowed text to be added, and within a few second I had a title page in place.
The next step was to select the music to which the image transitions would be synchronized. Again there were lots available in most of the genres that you would want. Even with previewing a few of the pieces, it was only a matter of minutes until I was on to the last step, finalizing the video.
The last thing you have to do is name your video … it does all the rest. It took about 5 minutes to analyze, process, and render the video. It was immediately available to view. For a first attempt, I was pleasantly surprised with the final product!
I decided to see how easy it was to edit it. I went in and very quickly deleted an image, moved a few around, added a video clip (again lots of stock provided), and inserted a second text element. Here’s the final product that took about 20 minutes to produce, including all the time I spent viewing images, videos, and listening to snippets of music.
It’s nothing fancy, but I can see the potential for quick visual documentation of project process.