Jumping into video editing with Animoto

Getting my toes wet in video editing with Animoto and YouTube

Getting my toes wet in video editing with Animoto and YouTube — it was time consuming, but the results were worth it.  Photo above: Tony Bisson, http://www.bissonphotography.com

I took the plunge into video shooting and editing with Animoto and a Canon DSLR camera. Here’s my experience and how you can get professional caliber video for your business on a shoestring.






Video is de rigeur for social media these days. You need video to convert those customers you send to your website with Facebook. You also need it to tell a story that can’t be told in still photos.

For my longtime client RiverGuidess Adventures, a pioneer in the “transformational river rafting” retreat, we’d been struggling for years to convey the magic of these events and falling short.  These retreats combine dance, yoga, healthy food and rafting in a very upscale and comfortable fantasy estate that is more golf course than wilderness.

Video is the best way to convey the magic of this property, the lavish catered meals and the very special vibe of the heart-opening transformation that happens on these retreats. They appeal to the lucrative and mostly untapped older Baby Boomer market and families with kids — an age group often ignored by events of this nature that tend to market only to younger Millennials.

The trips fit into a new category called: "Summer camp for grownups," or "Transformational micro festivals." It's an ever-competitive market with so many competing dance, yoga and festival retreats vying for people who can afford a $500 weekend.

The trips fit into a new category called: “Summer camp for grownups,” or “Transformational micro festivals.” It’s an ever-competitive market with so many competing dance, yoga and festival retreats vying for people who can afford a $500 weekend.

The retreats are pricey – $580 for a long weekend. To convey this value, and help transform the image from “hippie” to upscale, we have been sending pro photographers to each trip.

But every time, something was missing. Each photographer had a different artistic and personal vision of the experience that was not always compatible with our marketing goal — to attract the affluent “transformational” consumer and shift our appeal to a slightly younger demographic.

After struggling to direct outsiders to give me the results I wanted — I finally caved in and learned how to shoot and edit video myself.

I used a Canon DSLR  camera ($299 on sale at BestBuy) and a high speed 64 GB card ($200) to shoot  the video. Then I blended it with photos shot by four different professional wedding and event photographers plus a few images I shot on Instagram with an iPad.

I edited the photos in iPhoto and then imported the video clips and photos into a video editing app called Animoto.

This process took me more than 48 continuous hours — and resulted in 4 minutes and 30 seconds of video. This is about the average for how long it takes to edit video — generally one day per minute of finished video — so keep this in mind if you’re getting your feet wet. It’s time consuming!

The Canon DSLR is known as the camera of choice for Indie film photographers in Hollywood, but I found it clunky and hard to use. It also did not shoot well in low light (unless you add an optional lens.)

The quality of the resulting footage was sometimes very good, though (if I can just learn to hold it still and remove the lens cap!) I still found a DLSR awkward and heavy to hold and will be looking into smaller, lighter cameras in the future.

Animoto is an app that lets you host your images in “the cloud” — this solves one of the critical difficulties with video editing, storing all those huge clips. It also makes it very easy to share the process with the client or a team as the project evolves, and it includes some fantastic ready-made templates. It’s really not more difficult than making a Powerpoint and in some ways easier.  The other beauty of Animoto is that it can time your clips to the beat of the music– generating very professional and engaging results.

We added the royalty free songs from Animoto’s library of 10,000 songs. I did a keyword search for “summer” to find the uplifting song that conveys our “summercamp for grownups” theme.

Taking the plunge on the rope swing. (The woman in this photo is over 50 years old. The client wants to create an experience for older Boomers who want more comfort. We call it “glamping.”)

Taking the plunge into video








Animoto for Business costs $39 per month. (www.animoto.com)

Here’s how the video looks when hosted by Animoto – sharper than You Tube:

Is your Facebook fan page a cocktail party, a barbecue, a conference or a drum circle?

Social media is a virtual party.  Is your fan page a backyard barbecue, a formal cocktail party, a corporate conference or a drum circle?

Social media is a virtual party. Is your fan page a backyard barbecue, a formal cocktail party, a corporate conference, a yoga class or a drum circle?

The funny thing about social networking is…we often forget that it’s just a virtual party. It’s not about amassing tons of “fans” so you can have the biggest party — it’s about inviting the right people and serving tasty snacks and drinks.

It’s about playful banter, music and laughter.

You know what happens when you talk sex or politics at a party — dead silence.

A cocktail party is NOT the place to pull out a gigantic billboard and say HEY BUY MY PRODUCT! (Unless you are a paid sponsor with a table or booth.)  And imagine if you pulled up your shirt and showed off your appendix scar?

But people do this all the time on Facebook! They forget it’s a party.

A great Fan page is an authentically engaged community where you have a conversation — even better if your tribe cares about what you have to say and shares it with their communities. At a party this is called gossip and word of mouth. On Facebook it’s called sharing and viral marketing.

Remember — a great party is not about QUANTITY it’s about QUALITY. Be selective. Invite the right people. Dress to impress — or stand out in the crowd. Serve good spirits and keep the music upbeat and the conversation as bubbly as champagne.

We are not collecting fans or contacts for Ego — we are collecting real human beings and we should care about them as much as we hope they will care about us.

Think about the real world equivalent of your Fan page. How would you interact in these different real world parties or events?

50 friends or less = backyard barbecue, workshop,  a drum circle.
150 friends or less = a tribe, a retreat, a big party, wedding, etc.
1000 friends or more = a conference
2000 friends or more = industry trade show, music festival
10000 fans or more = sporting event or concert
100,000 fans or more = gigantic stadium event
1 million fans or more = broadcast on television

And here’s a great metaphor for Fan pages from #socialmediamixology:


Six addictive free apps for shooting and editing social video on an iPhone or mobile phone

grip-and-shoot-iphoneWe all want more traffic and engagement on our social media pages. Video is the way. But how can an amateur videographer create engaging content?

Yesterday I spent a Sunday afternoon producing my first ever video shot, edited and distributed entirely from free apps on an iPad.  Once I had the photos, it took about 15 minutes to edit a 30 second clip, all by touching the screen.

This my first attempt at a video shot and edited entirely on an iPad and it at least looks and sounds professional. The iPad has an excellent HD camera and it is so easy to take great photos, which is the first step to creating a great video.

I used the free apps Instagram and Camera Awesome to shoot and edit the photos, and a free iPad app called Videolicious to add the soundtrack and narration.

The app sent it directly to You Tube and all of my social media pages. It took about 15 minutes, total. It’s amazing how simple it is to do these things with a touch screen — I’m excited about learning more. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AUqq0jMGBQ

The iPad, iPhone and Android and a new generation of free or very inexpensive video apps are going to revolutionize video on You Tube and make it much easier for amateurs and social marketers to produce more engaging short stories they distribute on social media.

This is going to shift social media more and more into a storytelling medium and it will lessen the lag time between an event and when you see the video (usually it takes a few weeks for everyone to edit photos and video and send it out–now that can happen nearly instantaneously).

I’ve been exploring different apps for a while now and like these the best:

- Camera Awesome:  This app shoots both video and still photos and while the results are not immediately as cool as what you get in Instagram, there are sophisticated filters than can really enhance the photos and create professional results — antique, funky, psychedelic, frames. Unlike the basic Apple camera and Instagram it lets you zoom in and make adjustments for the lighting as you shoot.  The UI is clunky but this is is such a fun app and it’s growing on me.

- Videolicious: The free version of this app lets you splice together 10 clips or photos into a short video, add narration and a soundtrack and upload to social media sites by simply tapping your screen.  I’m going to upgrade to the full version and see what it can do. Already impressed.

- Adobe Photoshop Express: The free version is polished and it can do basic edits. The full version at $9.99 is a bargain compared to what Photoshop used to cost on a PC–like hundreds of dollars and took months to learn how to use?

- Instagram: By far the best way to shoot gorgeous photos on an iPad or iPhone, use filters, do basic edits and publish them. You can then use these photos in a video editing app and weave them into a story. Yes, a million users jumped ship last month due to privacy and copyright fears, but I wasn’t one of them.

- Viddy - This the Instagram of video. Viddy lets you capture, enhance and share very short videos with subscribers in your photo stream, exactly like Instagram, and quickly upload them to your social pages or YouTube. The problem is–they’re really short. But celebrities and marketers are already finding ways to use Viddy to virally promote.  If they create a version that can shoot and edit longer or more sophisticated videos, this will be a killer app.

- Animoto - I love this application, which turns your still photos into a very sophisticated video with transitions. If they don’t hurry up and move to the iPad they will be eclipsed by the features in Videolicious and other emerging apps nipping at their heels.

What I’d like to see: 

- An application that makes it easy to create tasteful, non-cheezy titles and intros. So far the title apps are all oriented towards birthdays, weddings, etc. Please, consider something for the aspiring Indie filmmakers, businesses and documentarians, not just the cliche home user.

Latest excuse for sightings of dead birds and fish? Over reporting in social media!

earth1.jpgUnless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably read about the mysterious sightings of dead birds dropping out of the sky, and millions of dead fish and sea mammals washing ashore, all over the world.

The news started with a report on New Year’s Eve of redwing blackbirds falling out of the sky in Arkansas — and soon steamrolled into reports of sudden animal deaths of shellfish, sea mammals and birds, sometimes by the tons, dying suddenly en masse all over the globe.

Dozens of official theories and explanations have been offered for this “aflockalypse” — from fireworks and unusually cold weather to bible scholars saying it’s the day of reckoning and New Agers blaming it on aliens or 2012.

But today’s latest theory about this sudden flock of animal deaths is that it’s because of social media!

Twitter, Facebook, mobile devices, blogs and instant, citizen media enable stories that would have once been local, or not even reported, are now global news.

As more and more of us report our news instantly on Twitter and it shows up immediately in Google search engines, this kind of mass reporting of simple, ordinary things, all over the world, can suddenly looks like a huge outbreak.

But are these  stories that back in the era of local news reporting, may have only made the local TV news or a the back pages of small town paper?

Or is this the first example of citizen journalists revealing a truth that would have otherwise never been revealed before the social media era?

A fascinating example of community-generated collaborative media is here, in a Google map of the sudden animal death sightings.

It will be fascinating to see if the massive bird deaths are simply a series of linked coincidences, brought to light by social media — or if indeed there truly is something fishy about this “aflockalypse.”

Here’s a story in the citizen-generated Examiner that offers social media as the possible excuse:


Executive social media jobs exploding. (It’s not just for ninjas, gurus and interns anymore.)

Look how fat I am on your airline.

Commedian Kevin Smith posted this Twit Pic with the caption: "Look how fat I am on your airline," after Southwest bumped him off a flight for being too fat.

2010 was the year of the uber-embarrassing social media blunder:

  • Southwest Airlines threw celebrity Kevin Smith off a plane for being too fat to fly in one seat. Smith’s Tweets about the incident were not only widely read and hilarious, but a PR nightmare for the airline.
  • The Gap changed their logo and the blogosphere errupted by ridiculing it with the “Crap” logo and the “Gag” logo.

In the wake of so many embarrassing social media disasters, smart businesses are finally starting to take social media seriously. This week, social media hit a new Tipping Point and the Fortune 500 started creating new jobs and investing in seasoned professionals.

Today I did a search in one of the employment databases and found an astonishing 3,193 new jobs created in the US in the last few days for social media professionals! But more amazing, most of these jobs are senior level, VP, Director or Manager positions. This is a dramatic shift from even a few months ago.

Here are just a few of the major brands that are advertising for new social media posts:

Sony, Corning, American Express, Coca Cola, Ingram Micro, Intl, Nike, Accenture, EHarmony, Red Cross, Forever 21, Vocus, View Sonic, ToysR US, IBM, BBC News, Lowe’s, DSW, Chrysler, L’Oreal, Chase, COX, Este Lauder, Yahoo, Vonage, MGM, Citrix, GNC, Kellogg, Equinox Fitness, Bloomberg, HP, Ann Taylor, Starwood Hotels, Omnicom Group, CitiGroup, Lily Pulitzer…

Many web-based businesses and tech start-ups are also searching for social talent: Amazon.com, Tiny Prints, Elance, Moxie, Diapers.com, Yahoo, Tripadvisor, EHarmony, Shopzilla, Vocus.

But not a single ad looking for a social media “guru” or “ninja.”

“Double Rainbow Guy” proves that just being yourself is the key to viral success.

The "Double Rainbow Guy" -- You Tube Viral Video Sensation

Who would have thought that a trippy hippie witnessing a pair of colorful streaks in the sky became the newest viral sensation to catch fire on You Tube — with more than 1.5 million views?

Excuse me — 3,702,017.

Recently Fast Company magazine added “The Double Rainbow Guy” to it’s new “Influence Project” — a social experiement to discover the most influential people in America. I think we all expected influence to come from celebrities, media icons or corporations — not a hairy bear like guy living in Yosemite and ooohing and ahhing in ecstasy at something as simple and free as a couple of prisms in the sky.

But maybe that’s the point. Maybe being uninhibited, being real, being yourself is all it truly takes to stand out in a world where there is so much posing and posturing and pretending.

Maybe the Rainbow Guy is telling us it’s ok to be real if we want to be noticed. In fact, it’s better.

The Rainbow Guy caught fire on my Facebook page too today, as a lively discussion about the psychology of “The Rainbow Guy” errupted.

Brooks Cole, himself an online media expert, started the conversation:

“FastCompany reports on the Double Rainbow Guy viral phenomenon. What makes this so viral?

My own explanation? I think it mirrors (and leverages) the same human factors that drive sex, along with sex’s power to drive DNA replication, then taken to the power of network technology. I think the viral key is this:

All viral videos have to be:

a) unusually amazing or demonstrably curious in some palpable way that builds curiosity/intensity/amazement to a climax, and:

b) have to provide some tension+release that carries the seed of its own propagation, and:

c) that the speed and success becomes its own amazement factor, multiplying the propagation.”

Karen McKrystal chimed in:

“And then… leverage the viral video to deeper content, transcendent analysis, all for the convergence of activists & thinkers working to bring forth the new society emerging from the ruins and in spite of the ruinous activities of savage capitalism. End of rant.

What I mean is, this whole viral thing, driven by basic motivator sex drive/power, as Brooks suggests, could be leveraged wider, and not be left to the “rainbow” people alone — here for a moment, then gone. Let’s provoke social DNA evolution, helpl nature do what it’s designed to do anyway. Within the human DNA is enfolded the potential for further and further evolution — into potentials yet barely understood and rarely even anticipated.”


“I hadn’t seen this – that’s so great! WOOO-HOOOOO!!!!! ♥”


“What, exactly, are you saying is great? If you don’t mind my asking.”


“That FUNTASTIC rainbow video – and the fact that I’m not the only one who feels this way!!! :D ♥ ♥..♪♪♫•*•”

Yes, at least 3.5 million people at last count are either laughing uproariously at the Double Rainbow Guy, or they feel like Aneline.

“WOOOOT WOOOOT !!!!! :D ♥ ☼”

It’s great to see happiness can even more contagious than the latest Britney spears rumor.