Making a video from photos for the Comanche Nation: Quanah Parker exhibit

(Part of my Better Online Content” series of posts: quick tips on creating more effective content that takes advantage of the social web’s unique publishing environment.)

Comanche headdress detail Quanah Parker exhibit (photo by Sheila Scarborough)
Modern Comanche headdress detail Quanah Parker exhibit Fort Worth Library (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

If you’ve read S.C. Gwynne‘s excellent Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History then you know the story of not only the Comanche at the height of their warrior power, but also the extraordinary tale of kidnapped Cynthia Ann Parker.

She was taken by the Comanche in a raid when she was nine years old, eventually assimilated into the tribe, gave birth to Quanah Parker (eventually the last Comanche chief of the Quahadi) and then she was taken back to the white world by Texas Rangers in another raid when she was 34. A frustrated and unhappy figure, she died ten years later.

I’ve been involved in some of the social media marketing effort for a special exhibit that includes artifacts and photographs of the “Lords of the Plains” and the Parkers …. Comanche Nation: The Story of Quanah and Cynthia Ann Parker at the Central (downtown) Library in Fort Worth, Texas, which runs until December 15, 2012.

One of the most well-received things we did was an Animoto video made from photos that I took with my Android OS smartphone plus additional pics from one of the exhibit organizers. I share it here as an example of making content once (the exhibit photos, taken the day the exhibit opened as I went from display case to display case with my phone) then using that content over and over in different ways to save yourself time and effort.

Animoto makes videos from groups of photos, set to music.

Their free / “Animoto Lite” version of the service is fine for initial experimenting, but to get serious about combining them with the rest of your video production efforts, spring for the US$30 a year for “Animoto Plus” which gives you a lot more flexibility, including uploading your creation to your own YouTube or Vimeo channel. Maximum control (white labeled, all high definition if you want it) comes with the “Animoto Pro” at US$249 a year, which is still pretty doggone inexpensive.

To make this video with my Animoto Plus account, I experimented with several of the available musical soundtracks, picked one that fit the mood of the photos and exhibit, then coughed up US$10 more to make it 720p high definition. The photos I took were high resolution and I saw no reason to ruin the effect by using them in a fuzzy video.

Here is how it turned out – the length of music adjusts to the timing you select and the number of photos you upload – and here’s the direct link to it on YouTube if you don’t see the embed box below.

Once I finished the video, I sent the file to the Library via Dropbox and they uploaded it to their YouTube channel. Once that was done, we each had a link and video embed code that was shared on the Library’s website, on Facebook Pages, on Twitter, on the Comanche Nation exhibit Facebook Event Page and numerous other places including this blog post.

Just remember: create once, use many times, in many ways!

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