I recently read an excellent article titled “Lights, Camera, Action” by Newzgeek‘s David Shamah. Published on Israel’s leading English languge publication, the Jerusalem Post, the article’s basic premise was that:
Thanks to the Internet, everybody and his cousin can now star in his own production, using techniques straight out of the Hollywood playbook
Slide, Animoto and Masher – online slideshow tools
David then goes on to introduce a number of the online tools available for people who want to transform their photos into smart-looking videos accompanied by music or narration. David mentions Slide and Animoto, which I was familiar with, and Masher, which I’d never heard of before and found to be still slightly buggy.
What if I don’t like online services?
I think that although David’s suggestions are excellent, some people might find working exclusively with an online service slightly frustrating, especially if/when connectivity and speed are an issue. Personally, if your interested in making your own video slideshows, I’d recommend looking at Picasa, Google’s cool photo editing tool which is backed by a photo sharing service of the same name.
Picasa as a video slideshow tool
Picasa has a built in video tool that has excellent support for stitching photos together into a slideshow, and uploading it onto Youtube. This slideshow I created last month for Semantic Web startup Semantinet was done exclusively with Picasa. Check it out to get an impression of what you can expect:
So what are the pros and cons of using Picasa?
The pros are:
- It’s quick and easy to learn and use
- Ample support is available online via Picasa help forums
- You can connect your Picasa and Youtube uploads to your Gmail account (if you haven’t got a Gmail account yet, now’s the time to get one…)
- It’s completely FREE!
The cons are
- Picasa’s simplicity also means you’re offered rather limited customizing options
- Unlike with Animoto and Slide, you have to supply your own music (a great resource for this is FreeMusicArchive.org).
How scalable are these solutions for ecommerce?
If you’re a smal scale operation with only a few products in your store, and you’re only interested in testing what effect slideshow videos can have on your conversions rates, Picasa is a great tool to use and I’d definitely recommend it. For all other purposes however, Picasa still requires far too much human labor to make it effective. Serious vendors are probably best served by automated video solutions like our own, even for the pilot phase.