Animoto Rocks (Automatically Turns Your Photos Into a Music Video Slide Show)

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What can I say? I’m a music video genius. Check out my latest MTV-worthy video above. It took me, oh, about five minutes to slap together.

Actually, it was all done for me by a startup that is getting a lot of buzz called Animoto. The New York City startup recently won an award at the South by Southwest conference, just launched a great Facebook app, and is one of the partners using YouTube’s new platform APIs.

Animoto lets you grab photos from Flickr, Facebook, Picassa, Smugmug, Photobucket, or your desktop. You can then upload a DRM-free song or choose from about a hundred licensed tracks on the site. It then does its magic and matches the photos to the music, “mimicking the post-production done by professional video editors,” says CEO Brad Jefferson. I mashed together some old Fllckr photos from a trip to Korea and a visit to HP Labs, added an Electronica beat, and the video above is what came out.

The site is built on top of Amazon’s Web services, but many customers wanted a post-to-YouTube option. So using the new APIs, Animoto now offers a button that does just that. “We view that as marketing tool,” says Jefferson. (It makes no money from videos shown on YouTube). Animoto also has a Facebook app that lets people create videos inside Facebook made from their Facebook photos. Since many of the photos are tagged with the names of the friends who appear in them, everyone in the video gets an alert in their News feed telling them that they are in a video.

The site’s been out of private beta since August, 2007 and has gathered 100,000 registered users. Unlike many other video startups, this one is not basing its business on advertising. Creating a 30-second video is free, but longer ones cost $3 each (or $30 for an unlimited annual subscription). CEO Jefferson says he’s been pleasantly surprised by the conversion rate of non-paying to paying customers. Instead of the one to two percent conversion rate he had expected, it is in the “high single digits.” If he can get up to a few million active users, and keep the conversion rate up, he might have a business.

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