Movie Making Made Easy, or Too Soon to Call?

Testing the online movie-making tool Xtranormal

This morning I had a direct message (DM) on Twitter with a link to a YouTube video advertising a Superbowl-related service. I clicked through out of curiosity and watched the short video.

If you watch that, you’ll notice the credit that comes up at the end for Xtra Normal, with the intriguing tagline “If you can type, you can make movies”.

I tried it out.

Signup was easy and free.

The interface and the various pre-fabricated scenes, avatars and so on reminded me a bit of Second Life (who ever talks about Second Life these days? Is it still there?) but at a really basic level.

I proceeded to type in a conversation about a topic that has been buzzing along in a forum on LinkedIn, viz. how can you tell if someone is a real social media expert.

Out of a bunch of quite bizarrely attired avatars I chose a couple of conservatively dressed types who looked more like humans than the avatars in the football item above. The result will not will me any prizes. It’s corny, not easy to see or hear, and I am including it here just to illustrate.

No matter what I did I could not get the avatars to the front of the scene as they are in the football item.

So there is a lack of flexibility in being able to mix and match avatars and settings.

No doubt a more skilled user would do something much more interesting and I’m inferring from the text accompanying the exhortation to download the desktop version that it may be possible to be more creative with that. But I looked at the resource specifications and decided I did not need the aggravation of my computer possibly seizing up or slowing to a crawl.

There is a link from the Xtranormal site for uploading to YouTube, but after following the instructions and trying several times, I gave up.

Verdict. Interesting, and I really like the idea of telling stories in novel ways like this, but at this stage Xtranormal is not a good use of my time.

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  1. Sandy L Murray says:

    Hello, I signed up for an account and tried getting a video up, but just couldn’t quite get it done. However, I do think that this is the wave of the future-an interesting concept. I will return to the site later to figure this Xtra Normal video concept out. Thanks for the info.

  2. @ Frank
    Much obliged for the workaround tip. I’m sure any of us who’ve had anything to do with either the development or promotion/selling of a new product know that there is usually (always?) something that doesn’t quite work, out of the blocks.

    @ Amalaki Juice
    Yes. I really wasn’t wanting to bag the product. I think Animoto set the bar high for a hands-on, fairly customizable rollyourown video and these people surely deserve kudos for their approach.

  3. Although the program isn’t where it needs to be, I am sure that it will be an incredible system in the next few years. Creating custom commercials with premade/customizable avatars will be great for those looking to get ahead in this virtual world. Thanks for the share!

  4. Frank, The Divergent Learner says:

    Hi … in order to be successful with the Youtube upload as I have done here, …. you must click on the link over to the right and then (this part is really odd) you must scroll up the page until you see some text … the reason that you need to scroll is because the text is the same color as the background and you can only see it after you scroll up the page. Poor usability design, unfortunately. I had the same frustration until someone on a forum uncovered the secret for me …. good luck!


  1. […] week I made a short video using the online Xtranormal tool. While it was fun up to a point, I decided it was a tad too beta for me to use right now for […]