Hey Blog World!  I’m finally back online with Animoto after a 3 month hiatus.  I initially signed up for a 3 month commercial subscription and fell in love with it but didn’t immediately have the money to renew for a 1-year license.   Well for those who aren’t familiar – Animoto is the awesome web-based software that I use to create these video slide shows set to music.

Read my review and get the code after the jump…While I was away, it appears that the service has been improved in a few ways.  They’ve added stock images via iStockphotos, added new music genres, and have given a few more options for how videos are produced (such as turning off the ‘music video style’ credits at the end.  I like the new features, although I’m hoping to see the music collections for commercial users diversify a bit more and update more frequently.  I love that they make it easy for me to use music fairly by providing royalty-free music that’s licensed for commercial use — I would love to see more sites take this kind of initiative.  Part of me also worries about the production style of this hot new product becoming as ubiquitous as the “Ken Burns Style” effect for showing photos.  But I also realize that I’m the one who grows tired of things more quickly than the ‘average consumer’ so I should be OK for a while. 😎  Don’t get me wrong – I love the Ken Burns style but you see it as a randomized default in so much that it becomes cliche.

One of the greatest things about this company is the customer service.  I’ve contacted them on various occasions with product / service ideas as well as to report bugs.  Each time I was responded to by an individual I’ve seen ideas I’ve sent in incorporated.  I love that and it makes it clear that the company is connected to its users.

Overall this is one of the few products that I can genuinely recommend to both the amateur and the professional.  I think it’s simple enough for anyone who has ever uploaded a photo online, yet high quality for more advanced uses.

Check out the site today.  You can create an account for free and make 30-second videos that you may post online to YouTube or embed on your page.  I’d love to see what you make or hear how it goes for you!

Animoto Promo referral Code: sqiwugyp (Update 9.15.2010 – the promo has changed, use the link to take you to the site)