Think it's too expensive to start marketing your business using online video? Think it's too complicated to start marketing your business using online video? Nope and nope.  Use the powerful one-two punch of the Flip camcorder and Animoto to make stunning video on a shoestring budget.

The Flip Ultra HD

Creating Videos for Business On A Shoestring Budget 41s ZcgRNmL. SL160  The Flip Ultra HD is a video camcorder with the capability of shooting 2 hours of HD video. It is slightly larger than a pack of cigarettes and is amazingly simple to use.  There is a big red button on the back of the Flip that you use to record or stop recording.  The device itself can:

  • Record Video
  • Play back video
  • Delete video

It is the simplicity of the device that makes it so powerful.  But the real brilliance of this device is that after you have shot some video you "flip" out the USB plug and stick it in your computer. This launches the simple to use FlipShare software. From FlipShare you can:

  • Trim the video
  • Email a link to the video
  • Upload it straight to YouTube or MySpace
  • Export still images
  • Burn it to DVD
  • Or export it to your computer

It is very, very easy. The Flip retails for around $200.00.

Enter Animoto

Creating Videos for Business On A Shoestring Budget animoto logo lg blackbkgd 200x54 The second part of the formula is a simple but powerful service called Animoto.  Animoto creates WICKED video using a combination of still photographs, video, text and music.  For a moderate price ($99.00 for three months or $249 for a year) you can create unlimited, full-length, DVD quality videos.  Before purchasing I would suggest using the free version of the software to create some test videos to ensure that it will meet your needs.

The one down side to Animoto is that while you have control over the order in which your video and images will appear in your video, the effects are all generated automatically based on the music you have selected and the length of your video clips.  But don't worry -- the lack of control may feel like a hindrance at times but it is precisely this automation that makes Animoto so powerful and easy to use -- it does all the work for you.

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Combining the Flip and Animoto - My Story

Here is the sequence of events that led up to the video below:

  • I brought my Flip Ultra HD to a meet-up group for authors and shot about 10 mins of video.
  • I took the video home and plugged the Flip into my computer.
  • The video content "popped up" in the FlipShare software.
  • I clipped out a few 3 to 4 second pieces of video using FlipShare.
  • I exported the pieces of video to my computer.
  • I picked some "snap shots" or still photographs out of the video I shot. I exported those to my computer.
  • I uploaded all of the still photographs and video clips into Animoto.
  • I picked some music from the Animoto music library.
  • I clicked on "Create Video"

Here is the result:

Total Time1 1/2 hours

Total Cost: $200.00 Flip Cam + $100.00 3 month Animoto Membership = $300.00

If you are looking for an easy and inexpensive way to begin taking advantage of the power of online video -- this is your answer.  And yes... I know... I'm no Steven Spielberg but I would venture to say that Stevie invested a bit more than $300.00 and 1 1/2 hours into Jurassic Park. :)

About our guest author:

Creating Videos for Business On A Shoestring Budget russ headshot 1 Russ Henneberry writes and speaks about how tiny businesses can make mighty profits using a personal computer, a little imagination and a few well-placed dollars. You can get his posts over at or via your feed reader here.

  • elacers

    this video is great, aside from being practical it is accessible and easy to view for some greater purposes of the viewers...

  • Tim

    Audio is bad

  • Julia


    I just started making animoto videos and they're great. They have a great role as branding, but I have a friend who also did it for introducing a project. She took some photos and a lot of text images and when you put it all to music, it makes any project exciting and interesting.

    Thank you for this post!


  • Ricahrd

    Thank you! I've been looking for a way to do easy videos.

  • Tim Danyo

    Just saw that the Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera has a mic input!!! Wow! Imagine that! It shoots in 1080p and 720p as well. Check it out:

    • Mark Robertson

      I saw that... but what does Kodak know about photography - haha....

  • RossA

    I use a flip camera pretty often and find myself always having to turn up the audio in post. Other than that it is a really handy little camera and I appreciate the ease of use

  • Russ Henneberry

    While the audio on the Flip isn't ideal the audio in the video is due to a limitation on the part of Animoto. They have recently begun to allow video clips up to 10 seconds in length --- until last week or so they only worked with still images.

    If you choose to include music in your Animoto video, it tends to drown out the audio from the video --- I hope they are working on a solution for this problem but in the meantime it is still an outstanding value because of the ease of use and the powerful, automatically generated effects.

    • douggib

      Russ, thanks for the demo on Animoto and video. I'm a Realtor and I like what you did. I wonder If I could mix audio and video (voice) on my PC and upload as an audio file for some narration throughout the video. The hard part I guess would be to sync the voice when an actual video clip is playing. Such and man in a house talking. Any thoughts?

  • Ellery

    I have to admit I was skeptical as I read through the article, but the proof is in the pudding and the video actually looks pretty good. Very well done.

    The Flip HD cam also comes with a tripod mount on it's underside so you can mount it onto a tripod for more steady filming, which depending on the style of video you're shooting can be good. My only gripe is that (last I saw) it only shoots 720p not full 1080i, so it's not 'strictly speaking' a HD camera.

    • HowardG

      Wrong -
      720p is PROGRESSIVE - 1 frame = 1 field
      1080i is INTERLACED - 1 frame = 2 fields

      Just what do YOU understand as 'HD'?

  • Mark Robertson

    Good stuff Russ. The audio of the speakers is a bit low, but you are right, those are pretty neat effects.

  • Tim Danyo

    Animoto is cool. The draw back to those flip cameras is the audio features. It is painfully obvious with this video. They need to come out with a flip type video camera with a mic input jack. Think of the needed microphone accessories like being able to attach a better on cam mic or go wireless.