June 11, 2010

How to mash up a visual story for your nonprofit

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Stupeflix & Animoto offer new ways to tell a story

Updated to remove RockYou, which has switched its business model to focus on games, and Slide, which closed up shop in March 2012.

By Kim Bale
Socialbrite staff

In a world where we’re bombarded with 3,000 messages a day, it’s hard for nonprofits and social change organizations to break through the noise and get your message across in just a minute or two. But a new generation of multimedia storytelling tools lets you do just that. You don’t need high-end video editing software — just a compelling message, some good visuals and a knack for mashing up content and music in an eye-catching way.

Three companies that are helping to blaze the new multimedia-meets-Cuisinart terrain include Animoto and Stupeflix. The sites make it simple for you to upload photos — often from existing Flickr or Facebook accounts — add captions and music, and create a finished product that is both professional-looking and affordable.

Photo sharing services like Flickr and Photobucket let you embed a photo slide show — here’s a nice slide show by the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation — and we like those, too. But we love the new breed of multimedia roll-your-own-video sites, which take visual storytelling to another level. You’ll notice that these sites cater to pop culture; don’t worry about that, so does YouTube!

Here’s a look at what they offer:


Among the most advanced in multimedia technology, Paris-based Stupeflix has a lot to offer. It lets you choose from four basic themes and upload your images from your computer, Facebook, Picasa or Flickr. You can easily arrange your images by using drag and drop and add a soundtrack by choosing files from your own computer. Preview your creation and export it for free or upgrade to a higher quality version for just a few dollars. You can automatically upload it to Facebook or YouTube for no cost, or remove the Stupeflix brand and create own your own commercially licensed video for $5! (Of course, you’ll want to make sure you have the rights to use the music or that you use only a small portion, though this area of fair use is far from settled law. However, if you plan to sell DVDs, make sure you’ve secured the rights to use of all content in the video.)

The video above created by Stupeflix highlights Seedcamp 2008, a gathering of entrepreneurs in Europe. It can be used as marketing material or as a highlight reel of the conference.

Just as interesting, though, is Stupeflix.tv, an aggregation of tweets and Flickr photos updated to the minute and arranged based on topic. Check out this channel on global warming.


Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

One of the mainstays of this space, Animoto enables you to create a video consisting of images, footage and licensed music. On top of that, you can create, download and burn professional, DVD-quality videos. A powerful call-to-action button can be placed at the end of your video, linking viewers back to your site, where you can engage them further in your cause. Nonprofits have the opportunity to apply for a free Pro account, upload their photos and text and see a finished production generated by Animoto.

ACSThe American Cancer Society created this powerful video to market their program Camp Adventure. They were able to upload photos, insert text and choose from Animoto’s more than 1,000 available songs to complete the video. Your finished product is immediately available to share via email, Facebook, your website or blog, YouTube and the list goes on.

However, one thing that puzzles and disappoints us about Animoto is that you can’t embed other creators’ videos. This was possible a year ago but the functionality has now been removed. Megan, a member of Animoto’s support team, told us: “Unfortunately, due to privacy/access issues, we can only allow the creator of the video to have access to the embed code.” (In our view, this is a major drawback — certainly for activist organizations — and will likely cripple the leadership role Animoto once had in this space.)

Thus, we can show you the 60-second spot we created for Socialbrite, above, but we can’t show you the following video slide shows:

JGI Snare Removal Programs by the Jane Goodall Institute

Save Darfur (note: choose music that complements your subject; we think the blaring rock doesn’t work here)

(Note: An Animoto user points out that if you upgrade to a $5 Pro account, you can download your video, upload it to YouTube and share it. Good solution.)

Fourteen months ago the company released Animoto for a Cause, giving nonprofits and community activists free and unlimited access to the full range of Animoto’s services, both standard and premium. You’ll find 13 cause-related videos on Animoto’s Cause Case Studies page.

Other video mashup sites

Other websites offering animated slideshows include:


Yodio (warning: annoying audio introduction)



Photo Peach





Create video stories for your nonprofit in 6 steps (Socialbrite)

Kim Bale was recently the community outreach specialist for The Extraordinaries. Follow her on Twitter at @balekimb.

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4 thoughts on “How to mash up a visual story for your nonprofit

  1. Thanks Kim for the great review! We're really hoping Stupeflix will help nonprofits get the word out and build support and community around their causes.

  2. Thanks Kim! Another great tool that we use for our Nonprofit is the photo slideshow software from muvee , they have a “cloud” movie/video maker that is free to use and helped us make nice videos super quick. here is the cloud application ( http://cloud.muvee.com/ ) Also animoto works great, but cant seem to load longer videos.

    thanks again kim!