Thanks for the great feedback. We're actually in the process of adding more ways to import video into Flektor (including both from other websites as well as through a webcam). These changes should make it out the site in the next few weeks.
Edit, Remix, Mash Up: Share Your Online Content With Flektor
Digital content is easier than ever to not only store and share online, but also edit and mashup into new and great looking remixes. Now it is possible to do all of this and more from a single browser-based application.
The latest breed of web applications have moved on a step from the first wave of Web 2.0 services that made it easy to get your media online and share it with your friends. Flickr and YouTube are but two of the many popular services that have transformed the web from a static, text-driven medium into one dominated by photo-sets and web-video.
The new wave of web apps let you take the media that you've uploaded to the Internet and edit them, remix them and mash them up into new combinations. Gone are the days when you needed a desktop application to edit your photos, syndicate and mash up web media, remix your videos and publish multimedia slideshows to the web. Anyone can do all of this and more using free browser-based applications in a matter of minutes.
So it was only a matter of time before someone made it possible to do all of the above from a single easy-to-use platform, which is exactly what the people behind Flektor have managed to achieve. Flektor makes it very simple to:
- Import your photos and videos from a number of sources, ready to be edited and mashed up
- Edit and apply filters to your images and videos, transforming their entire look
- Add impressive looking transitions between your media to create a seamless movie
- Introduce text, designer clip art and interactive features to the mix, including the ability to poll your viewers, or let them navigate their way around a photo-set
- Easily share your content using good-looking embeddable web widgets
Flektor - Overview
Flector is an uber-remix tool then, successfully building on the success of slideshow creation tools like RockYou, Slide and Scrapblog, and combining it with the editing and remixing functionality of Jumpcut and Eyespot.
Using a simple interface the user has one of two choices - you can jump into the quick start mode without even having to sign up, or dive headlong into the full editor, with its richer set of features. While the quick start will let you create one-off web widgets and apply some the impressive looking filters and effects packed into Flektor, if you want to really get the best out of the tool, the full editor is the way to go.
Here you quickly import photos and videos, enhance them with a full complement of filters, effects, text, interactive features and transitions, and arrange the combined media remix on a video-editor-style timeline. If you have used a basic video editing application like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker this won't present you with any difficulties, and even if you haven't you will quickly get the hang of what is a very usable, easy-to-master tool.
Finally, once you you are happy with your resulting mashup, you can share and embed it in a vast range of online destinations, from your blog to the usual SNS suspects. The results are among the most impressive I've seen from a web application to date, with filters, effects and transitions that come close to and even match the quality of commercial desktop applications.
Flektor offers a good range of content types that are either built directly into the application itself, or else easily imported from the web or your desktop.
While you can also import video, movies and sound files I was a little surprised to learn that these can only be brought in from your desktop. As similar services offer the ability to import video directly from YouTube as a very minimum, this might be something that the Fleckor people want to think about working on.
It seems kind of strange to offer an aggregation / mash up tool that requires you to bring you media in from scratch, when so many people will have already uplaoded this content to the web. Whether this has anything to do with Flektor being bought out by Fox, owner of MySpace, which has its own rival video service to YouTube is anyone's guess.
Thankfully the range of file types supported is more than acceptable, with video covered in the popular avi, mpeg, wmv, mov, dv, mp4, flv and divx formats, and audio by way of mp3, wav, aiff, wma, ogg and others.
But content isn't limited to what you can bring into the application, as Flektor also supplies several customizable output tools of its own.
Text can be added under three headings - titles, general and postcards, giving you the chance to create full-screen video titles choosing from a vast range of fonts; add labels, subtitles and cartoon-like speech bubbles as you can in tools like Bubbleply and Mojiti; and create picture postcards with your own text overlaid on prefabricated, clipart-style images.
Polls can be created to add an element of interactivity to your movies, asking your audience to choose from a multiple choice question at a key moment in much the same way as you would with the PollDaddy web widget.
You can add your own Meebo Rooms style chatroom into the mix, and can even throw in live broadcasting from your webcam, which is also recorded for later use. This is an impressive addition indeed, and in keeping with the current live video zeitgeist.
Then there is a range of stock footage such as static and a test card that you can mix in with your clips, along with photos, video and sound effects that you can use alongside your own.
Finally, but by no means insignificantly, Flektor offers a very rich selection of 'photobooks', which present you with a vast range of options as to how you might like to present your photo collections. These range from simple slideshow-like presentations to user-navigable layouts and interactive games featuring your images, such as a slot machine.
In short Flektor offers an incredible range of both user-generated and prefabricated media for you to create your mash ups from.
Filters and Effects
Further to the actual content available, though, you also have a great many effects, transitions and overlays that you can apply to your movies and photos, similar to those featured in desktop applications like iMovie.
Transitions are easily dragged and dropped between your media items on the timeline, and include the usual array of zooms, dissolves and fades along with countless other more zany alternatives. The breadth of options is impressive, and while I wouldn't personally want to make use of some of the wackier transitions, I am sure that they will have their place and be much loved by others.
Some of the effects are very cool, and can all be previewed in real time. These range from a duplicated image, which plays your video back, but carved into four, each quadrant a copy of the original, to newspaper, 8mm and color tint effects, a lot of which wouldn't look out of place in commercial editing software.
Furthermore, 'zingers' give you image overlays that frame your pictures or videos rather like the digital composites in modern photo booths, and 'spice' features add effects like fog, snow or camera flashes over your footage or images.
All in all the scope and range here is breathtaking stuff, and offers even more ways to create fresh looking content from your already rich palette of content.
Quick Start Mode
There are two ways of making use of Flektor, the main being the 'full editor'. However, if you don't want to sign up or create complex mashups, but are simply interested in grabbing some of the discrete content types mentioned above, in handy web widget form, the 'quick start' mode makes it very easy.
The quick start mode offers you a wizard-like format from which you choose the type of widget you would like to create, and then make limited changes to it before getting an embed code to share on your blog or website.
It's really a matter of choosing the media type, adding effects as desired, and publishing the results - so this is a great way to get your hands on a special effect for your video or photo, a poll widget, text caption, chat, photobook or postcard.
If you want to edit more than one type of media together, however, you need to make use of the full editor.
The Full Editor
The full editor takes things to the next level, and it is from here that you will piece your media mashups together. The layout is incredibly simple, with all of your content and effects in a menu to the left, chunky save and publish buttons along the bottom of the screen, a preview video window on the right, and a timeline running across the middle of the screen.
Content items are dragged from your library of images, videos and effects and onto the timeline, where you can freely move them around into the sequence you would like them to play in. You can preview the resulting movie at any time using the onscreen video player to test how your mashup is holding together.
Adding effects, transitions, sound and captions is as simple as selecting what you want to use from the menu and dragging it onto the clip you wish to effect. It doesn't get much simpler than this.
Furthermore, clicking on any of the thumbnails or effects within the timeline will open up a dialog box which will let you make further changes to your image or the effect you have applied to it. You can resize your photos, add zoom or a 'Ken Burns effect', and can also alter the parameters of the effect you are using.
And it really is as simple as that. Once you have previewed your clip and are happy with the sequence, timings, effects and transitions you have set, you are ready to save and publish the results.
Sharing Your Mashups
Sharing your mashup creations is a piece of cake, and Flektor supports an impressive range of online destinations into which you can embed the Flektor player. Once you have saved your work you simply click on the 'share' button and are given a choice of platforms from to Orkut.
This gives you an embed code which you can easily plug into your platform of choice and have your movies playing in the space of a few seconds.
The resulting player, which can be selected in one of three sizes, looks like this:
Reservations and Room for Improvement
It's very hard to find fault with Flektor, and if I have any reservations about the tool they are slight.
My first concern is that the content is heavily targeted at the young, hip MySpace crowd, which means that a lot of the text fonts, transitions and effects are quite over-the-top and in-your-face. That said, however, the sheer range of titles, effects and transitions available mean that it should be no problem at all to avoid the more garish content should you wish to create a business presentation or more sober viewing experience. I have no doubt that Flektor would be effective for either, and is by no means limited to the demographic it most obviously reaches out to.
My only other quibble is the lack of a video importing feature. It seems slightly behind the times to expect me to manually upload my video when services like Splashcast, Vuvox and Scrapblog will import videos directly from YouTube. Adding this feature would be a great complement to the already good support for photo sharing destinations like Flickr and Photobucket.
The biggest achievement of Flektor is in combining several of the most popular and cutting-edge features of the new breed of media-driven web applications. In the space of little more than a year we have seen a range of online tools and services that have made it possible to edit, remix, aggregate and share media files over the web.
From online photo editing tools to video remixing, content syndication and the creation of multimedia slideshows, it's no longer a case of just sharing media, but rather personalizing and recombining them into new contexts.
Flektor makes it easy to import your photos and videos, edit and add filters to them, combine them using stylish transitions, and even add interactivity to the mix with polls, navigation and simple games.
Certainly the overall look of some of the prefabricated content seems aimed squarely at the younger MySpace crowd, and this is hardly surprising considering the voracious appetite that this market sector has for media personalization tools. Nevertheless, Flektor has such a rich and diverse range of effects and functions - with over one hundred filters alone - that there is likely to be something here to suit all tastes and purposes.
If you are looking to combine your videos and images into interactive movies, Flektor is well worth taking a look, and will be of as much interest to educators and those looking to create online presentations as it will to bloggers and social networking service users.
If you would like to read more about Flektor, you might want to check out the following links:
- The Flektor website
- Michael Arrington compares Flektor with the competition
- Webware review of Flektor
- The latest Flektor news from Technorati
Ongoing Mashable coverage of Flektor
[ Read more ]
Originally written by Michael Pick for Master New Media and originally published as: "Edit, Remix, Mash Up: Share Your Online Content With Flektor