Picnik and Animoto: Photo Editing and Slideshows in the Cloud:

It really does feel that most applications are moving to the “cloud” especially in publishing and email.

The other category of applications that is undergoing this transformation, in my opinion, appears to be photo editing.

I’ve been using the web-based Picnik for a few months now to do what I had previously done with Photoshop and iPhoto — essentially light editing, cropping, resizing, and image size optimization. Picnik also includes some nice touches for framing photos and inserting text and other objects as well as mimicking some of the popular Photoshop filters/plugins. Like Flickr, Picnik had a limited free version and a full featured paid version. Only two weeks after I paid for the full version, Picnik switched to a nearly all free ad-supported model 🙂 But it was worth the $20 at the time.

conclusion: The best online photo editor I’ve used, and it’s allowed me to nearly stop using Photoshop. The integration with Flickr also makes it easy to save directly back to Flickr and not need to re-upload. It’s basically free, so check it out. The Picnik blog is here, powered by WordPress 🙂

Animoto is also an interesting web service. It creates music video style montages from your collections of photos. You can upload your own images or hook into flickr and other photo services to pull out the images. You add your own MP3 or one of their supplied tracks, and within a few minutes it created a pretty cool video. The free version is limited to 30 seconds, and the paid upgrade allows for videos of any length. Apparently their paid upgrade conversion has been very good — I haven’t made the move yet.

conclusion: Pretty cool overall, and worth trying out the 30 second free version. I personally like the slideshows that iPhoto creates, and find the Flickr slideshows to be too basic and not inclusive of music. My ideal setup would be to have something like this built into Flickr. The Animoto blog is here, hosted on WordPress.com 🙂

Below is an animoto video I just did with a few photos I took in Hong Kong:
Vodpod videos no longer available.

The bottom line — this is a real trend. It definitely also points out the need for real broadband connectivity, especially on the upload side to make these services compelling and “snappy”. Luckily I just got a small speed boost, but could definitely use a bit more.

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