Text-to-movie-making is easy with XtraNormal.com. “How to text-to-movie” below.
Xtranormal allows users to create 3D animated scenes using a drag and drop interface. I played around on the site for 10 minutes before I was hooked.
Here is a commercial I made for XtraNormal.com and for #blogchat, @MackCollier‘s weekly chat on Twitter about blogging. (If you haven’t checked that out, you have two things to do after reading this post!) “How to text-to-movie” right after the video.
How to Text-To-Movie
Once at XtraNormal.com, click on “Make Movies” and you’ll be able to choose among nine “text-to-movie showpaks.” Click around. Pick your favorite.
You can choose among a number of characters. Then add dialogue to the boxes. Below, I show you how to drag one of the icons from the left (camera angles, animated gestures, facial expressions, looks, pointing, pauses, and sounds) directly into the dialogue box. Where you put them in the box matters.
You can, for example, have multiple camera angles in the same dialogue box.
If you have any trouble, there is a “Quick Tips” box to guide you through. There is an “Action” button to save your work for preview and an “It’s a Wrap!” button to create a higher resolution to share with friends. It is easy to upload to a YouTube account.
XtraNormal, the company
XtraNormal (xtranormal.com) is based out of Montreal, Canada and was founded in 2006. It seems as though it has been in beta for four years now and they’ve raised $14-million in venture capital funding.
According to October content on “Demo 08,” they said, “Online communications and near life communities are booming. Our content creation platform empowers consumers to create/publish their ideas and companies to extend their brands. According to PEW, more than 57% of teenagers make their own content on the Web, 35% of adults create content online and 57% of Internet users watched /shared videos.”
They stated they had no competitors.
In November, 2008, Montreal Tech Watch reported Xtranormal cut 50% of its staff:
Xtranormal which launched with much fanfare a little over a month ago has laid off today 36, which is half of its staff.
Xtranormal invested heavily in research & development efforts in the past year, understandable since they were tackling a new challenge, user-produced videos, but this mass layoff shows lack of planning, focus & guidance from its CEO & founder, Richard Szalwinski … many at xtranormal expected him to lead product development but he didn’t.
As sources of money & funding disappear, Xtranormal is now forced to downsize its staff. I guess xtranormal’s investors are defaulting on committed payments due to markets crashing left & right….
A commenter on another blog said xtranormal laid off another 20 in January 2009, leaving 17 employees.
And a cursory look at their “About Us” section (there doesn’t seem to be any other company content on the site) gives the impression the company is left for dead.
Too bad, too. Really a cool technology.
XtraNormal.com user feedback
From the limited amount I could find, most comments were positive: “Cool.” “Awesome.” “Addictive.”
Some groused about the tedium of setting up the camera angles. (I thought it was fun.) I did have some bad experiences with xtranormal.com though. I lost my work after an hour when the unhelpful message told me I lost my work. xtranormal didn’t get back to me on Twitter in a timely way, either.
At least, I was able to copy + paste my content (including action icons) into a new template when I tried xtranormal on a different computer later on.
It’s free. It’s fun. It may be on shaky ground and I don’t expect innovations out of it from here – but I also don’t expect them to take down what they presently have.
If you give it a try because of this article, come back and post a link to your creation for all to see!
Thanks for reading.
2011 postscript: Things seem to have turned around for XtraNormal. They charge for all videos now and XtraNormal videos have a “meme” cache now for ranting. There are new “actors,” settings, etc. Maybe they’ll make it after all.
2013 postscript: XtraNormal shut down as of July 31. They say that was “the end of Act I.” I doubt there will be an Act II. As a consolation, check out these four videos. It seems as though XtraNormal was a venue for profane ranting. All have curses, so you’re warned.
The Joy of a Salesman (2+ million views, profanity)
Anesthesia vs Neurosurgery (350,000 views, profanity)
TweetFired (200,000 views, profanity)