Company News

How Did Animoto Originate?

Jason Hsiao


Animoto’s President and Co-founder Jason Hsiao explains the founders’ inspiration for creating Animoto.

Many of you have been asking what inspired us to develop Animoto. Well… there’s been a few motivations really.

For starters, when a bunch of us were working in the film/TV industry it was becoming apparent that there’s just a big gap between the quality of content you see on the web and the type of stuff your see on TV and in film. That might be a bit of a snooty comment. But it really doesn’t take someone from the entertainment industry to notice the disparity. If we’re to be totally honest here on this blog thing, we’d have to confess that we just think there’s just so much random crap out there and much of it looks like a third-grader did it, right? (No offense to all our third-grader fans. Seriously. We still totally love your camcorder work, star-wipe transitions, and floaty heart icons.) So part of the inspiration behind Animoto is to bridge this gap and build something that helps people easily share create content that feels more like something you’d actually see on TV or, say, in a movie trailer.

What we do through Animoto is the kind of stuff that takes professional editors days to do and costs thousands of dollars. Animoto does it in the matter of minutes, with the click of a button, and for free (or $3 for full-length videos).

Another big motivation for developing Animoto is to find a way for people to stop sending us 18 minute long 462-photo slideshows of their trip to Maine. Nothing else really makes you just wanna shoot yourself than when you get those things. Besides, slideshows are so 1970’s, aren’t they?

What we realized is that the way that most people use their digital cameras these days, it’s not about any particular image anymore per say. It’s not like the days when you had three pictures left on your roll of film and you had to make every photo count. These days, it’s totally not uncommon for people to take dozens, if not hundreds of photos at an event or doing whatever. People are using their digital cameras much less like photographers of the past, who capture individual moments, and increasingly more like video producers and directors who capture an entire experience through a series of images. Because traditional solutions like slideshows don’t serve this need of presenting images very well, new ideas for how to capture and share a whole experience are needed. Thus, another reason we started the development of Animoto.

The last motivation is kind of nerdy. Since all of us here are completely obsessed with the awesomeness of post-production technologies, it’s great for us to know that so much of our technical, design, and editing work gets to be used by so many people and in thousands of videos. In the entertainment industry, people spend days, if not weeks, on something that might air for like 2 seconds. So sad. Sometimes something you’ve been working on forever, something so creative and totally brilliant design-wise, just gets cut and never sees the light of day. Film and especially TV is really disposable and it can be really frustrating. So from a production stand-point, we think Animoto is much more gratifying. Because our work isn’t so disposable. Hopefully it will continue to live for years to come. (Or at least until we think it sucks and needs to be replaced with something fresh.)

Alright, sorry for the long-winded babble. But since you’ve been asking, that’s that. And just know… we’re just getting started and seriously can’t wait to show you what we got in the pipelines. Hmm…