I have commented here and there about my opinions of Animoto. It is time that I post an official statement on here. This is a response to a blog I recently wrote. I welcome your comments.
While Animoto is a very slick, flashy tool that creates eye-popping results, it really isn't a suitable tool for Digital Storytelling, in my opinion. I guess the first thing is to define "Digital Storytelling." For many, it has morphed into virtually any movie making, visual and sound project. However, ther term coined by Joe Lambert and the late Dana Atchley refers to a personal sharing experience rooted in narrative. What animoto creates is what Lambert refers to as "Digital Spectacle." The emphasis in animoto is visual effects...not story.
The second thing I question is exactly what kids learn by dumping pictures and music into animoto? Even the intro says, "No two movies WE make are the same." Wouldn't we be better off having kids do the creation?
Here's the thing: I guess it has to do with expectations. If the teacher's goal is to create dazzling visual spectacle, then, yes, animoto is a great choice. However, if the focus is on developing a story with a point, dramatic question, containing emotional content through the fusion of story, carefully-chosen images, voice, and soundtrack, then perhaps another platform might serve better. I use Photostory 3, I have seen great stories done in iMovie, Movie maker, Adobe Premier, Pinnacle Studio, and even Voice thread. The difference is the control of the student.