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Forget those awful photo montage videos on YouTube that teenage fans make for TV shows like “Gossip Girl” and “One Tree Hill.” Animoto, the company that allows anyone to become a music video producer by syncing up photos with tunes, now lets users add text to their videos. Text that more closely resembles sleek, movie-esque sequences, not static captions or titles. Combined with the motion graphics, effects and transitions that are the signature of an Animoto production, the result is pretty remarkable. You might never have to wince through another holiday family slideshow created by Mom. Instead, you can use text to tell a compelling story, make an important announcement (“I sold my stock!”) or simply give context to your photos. Check it out:

The key to Animoto is its patent-pending “Cinematic Artificial Intelligence” technology, which analyzes and incorporates images and music chosen by users as if it’s a real editor and director. Like snowflakes, no two videos are the same. Animoto Shorts, which are videos up to 30 seconds long, are free for everyone to make and view. Full-length videos (which can be up to ten minutes long) cost $3 per video or $30 a year for unlimited videos with the premium service.

Videos can be viewed on the site, posted on other sites, and downloaded for free. A high res (864×480) version can be downloaded in ISO or MP4 format for $5, and a DVD can be printed and mailed to you for $20. Animoto also offers business services for companies, educators and photographers. Contrary to reports, the company launched video streaming for iPhone a month ago, not today, and has an iPhone app in the works.

Chief executive Brad Jefferson informs me that there are currently 330,000 registered users on The company announced in August that more than 10 percent of users pay for premium services. Rock You and Slide are among Animoto’s biggest competitors, but are more focused on Facebook applications. Animoto has raised two rounds of funding, including an undisclosed amount from Amazon in May. Now, shouldn’t you be working on a holiday greeting video to send to the relatives?

[Mr. Roboto t-shirt design via Dennis DeYoung]

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