I thought I'd try out Animoto.com to see what they would do with the end of year photos project I'm working on for work at ThisWeek Community Newspapers in Columbus, Ohio. I'm doing a Soundslides project which is a lot more involved than Animoto's video production. Animoto appears to be a great tool for specific purposes. I'll give them credit the final video looks nice, but it does cut off a few details on pictures that are important. To correct problems with your video you are able to tell their system to remix the video. So far it does seem to get better with each remix, but I still find there are a few problems when trying to display full frame photos. For example on every remix I've tried the opening image is always on the right hand side of the frame, the golfer picture always has his head cut off, and a soccer photo always has the head and ball cut out of it. You can highlight certain photos in the video, and I highlighted every image. I found that if I didn't highlight a photo then it wasn't as well displayed. If I could correct those problems then I'd consider it great for doing fast videos with sound and photos as long as you don't have to time any voice or music to specific photographs. It also cut off the very last image. Thankfully it was just a notice of who took the photos and the copyright stuff. However I would appreciate a little more hands on ability so I can shrink the length of time on a couple photos to make it fit within the length of the song. Animoto offers a nice variety of music, but for my video I found a creative commons audio track that I could use for commercial work. Consumer can create unlimited number of 30 second free videos but must pay $3 for a longer video. You can also download the dvd quality finished video for $5 or use their emdeding code or post the video to other sites like facebook or myspace. An annual All-access package can be purchased for $30 allowing you to create as many videos as you want. For full pricing details check out their pricing." Commercial use requires the purchase of a license for either $99 for 3 months or $249 for a year. I wish they offered a business license for individual videos as I currently cannot see spending that much on a business license but perhaps in the future if I was doing a wedding or senior session. I wrote Animoto to clarify the difference between consumer and business packages and received a reply within 24 hours.
"There are quite a few differences between the consumer and the commercial accounts... For the commercial package, we obtained a special license that allows all our commercial account users to use the tracks offered in the package as the soundtrack to their businesses' videos. Traditionally, getting this sort of music licensing is very difficult to obtain, even sometimes for large companies that are producing commercials for TV. Also, note how less blatant the Animoto-branding is (especially toward the end of the video). Play the main video: http://business.animoto.com/
There are no watermark logos in the bottom-right and no link-back buttons to our site (but rather a more subtle "Powered by Animoto" logo off to the bottom right). Yet another difference is that commercial account holders get an unlimited amount of DVD-quality download (normally $5/dl for consumers). http://biz.animoto.com/dvd/comp.html
I hope that helps!"
Please check them out. They look like they are improving their service every day.