Branded video has been the standout digital marketing trend of 2018. This should come as no surprise when you consider that tweets with video attract up to ten times more engagements. It’s no wonder that more and more digital marketers are incorporating video into their content strategies to make their campaigns more memorable and cost effective.
The trouble is that the barriers to entry for an effective video strategy can be high. Many marketers in SMEs and start-ups assume that the high costs of hiring of hiring a content agency, or even their own in-house specialist make professional quality branded video the preserve of large multinationals or tech giants.
Recently, a slew of platforms has emerged to try to overcome these barriers by giving non-specialists the tools to create slick, professional video content to engage their audience. Today we’re looking at one such platform in our Animatron review.
What is Animatron?
Animatron is actually two separate browser based software packages. There’s their pure video editor, Wave.Video, and their animation environment, Animatron Studio. Think Adobe’s Premier Pro and Animate, but in a web app configuration.
Crucially, either package will give you access to a library of half a million audio, video and image files.
First up for our animation review, let’s take a look at Wave.Video. It’s billed as an ‘easy-to-use video editor for marketers and agencies.’ With its drag and drop interface and platform-specific templates Wave.Video is really more geared towards generalist marketers or even small business owners who just want to improve their social media presence.
In terms of UI, Animatron Studio has more in common with a WYSIWYG editor than your typical animation suite. It comes with thousands of free assets, including avatars, sprites, props and backgrounds, as well as the option to export to HTML, .GIF or any number of video formats. That means that anyone can easily create banner ads, promotional content or presentations without using specialised software platforms.
So Animatron’s unique selling point is to let businesses and individuals avoid the costs of hiring a specialist freelancer or marketing agency, but does it really work?
I’ve always fancied myself a bit of a jack-of-all-trades as far as content marketing goes. However, I’m the first to admit that video editing is something I’ve never mastered. Considering this, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed playing around while researching this Animatron review.
In particular, Animatron Studio was an absolute blast. They’ve recently added a ‘Lite’ mode, which simplifies the user interface to make it more easily navigable by non-specialists. In this mode, the timeline automatically populates with visual indicators of which objects come into your animation and when. This makes it easy to edit the structure of your video.
Crucially you can also swap between the ‘Lite’ mode and its more powerful ‘Expert’ counterpart in real time. You don’t even have to restart the application to do this. This is perfect for beginners, as it means the barriers to start creating visual content are low. Then, you can start exploring more advanced features as you become more used to the platform.
Next, on to Wave.Video. One feature that stood out, more than any other, when working on this Animatron review was Wave.Video’s Free Text Positioning. Admittedly, this doesn’t sound too groundbreaking, but it really opens the door to a lot of creative possibilities.
Many other video editors at this price-point only allow text to be squared to a grid. Straight away, this cheapens the feel of your branded content. With Free Text Positioning, you can drag your text to adjust its size, position and rotation. You can even ungroup and manipulate individual words and letters. When combined with Animatron’s library of stock assets, this feature gives your video a slick professional feel.
Both of the platforms covered in this Animatron review offer easy-to-use audio editing. This is important for creating engaging video content. You can even do direct record voiceovers. The audio editor also supports multitrack editing, so you can mix your voiceovers with the provided stock tracks, or any other audio you want to upload.
Problems with Animatron
Both Animatron Studio and Wave.Video have their limitations. I usually find that a focus on usability comes with a sacrifice in either precision or power. Animatron is no exception.
For example, we’ve already discussed Animatron Studio’s stock sprites and avatars. While these take the work out of creating your own animations from scratch, it still takes some work to get them looking just right. I found it particularly difficult to get the characters to looks natural while they walked. This could be fixed with the addition of a snap-to-object feature to make sure their feet are actually on the ground.
Similarly, for an animation suite aimed at branded content, the option to manipulate the colours of the stock assets is noticeably missing. This is an issue for making sure your video content suits your brand identity.
Wave.Video also lacks certain features when it comes to colouration. In fact, you can only adjust the appearance of your video with a colour overlay. This could cause a headache if you were trying to mix stock footage with your own video files. This seems like a problem that could easily be solved with basic RGB and brightness/contrast sliders.
As the two platforms in this Animatron review are separate packages, there isn’t much in the way of integration across the two. They also require separate subscriptions with different pricing structures.
Animatron Review: Final Verdict
All in all, I’d be happy to use either Animatron package again. I’ve said already that I’m not much of a video whizz, and I think that’s where Animatron’s strength lies. There are definitely a couple of drawbacks, but the ease-of-use factor still makes this a far more attractive option than learning to use one of the expensive powerhouse video editors.
The various options for stock content also make Animatron a no brainer for small businesses. If you’re looking for a solid online video platform for any level of marketer then this is definitely one of the best options on the market.
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