National Geographic Wildlife Filmmaker: Cute, flawed mashups

National Geographic traverses Web 2.0 territory with a cute video mashup engine that never graduates past the basics.

Wildlife Filmmaker Web application

There's something deeply satisfying about creating a video, and in the spirit of discovery, National Geographic Digital Media has announced Wildlife Filmmaker, an online video mashup to make you look like a wildlife documenter.

At first glance this is a nice-looking package for targeted video creation--all stylish black with bold accents in a Flash application. Putting together fun film clips is dead easy when you drag National Geographic's video footage of a variety of animals from the clips library to the corresponding clip bin on the storyboard. Repeat with sound snippets, music themes, and captions you author in the Web application's tab. Then click "play" and try to choke back the lump of pride you experience watching little Susie's--or your own--masterpiece.

It's a fun trifle, but from a Web application perspective, Wildlife Filmmaker is flimsy. Footage is limited, and there doesn't appear to be a way to import your own sounds, music, or video clips. Also absent is a way to preview the visual and audio media before dragging it to the storyboard. Once there, the clips lock into time slots graduated at every 5 seconds. The unfortunate result in my film was a caption that spilled over the crux of the clip. I should also note that I couldn't delete unwanted captions from the caption creation tab.

Saving the film generates a nine-digit code you're instructed to keep on hand for future reference. It's not apparent, but right-clicking the mouse and selecting "Copy" copies the code to your clipboard; you can also upload it to Digg, Delicious, and Reddit with a single click.

Saving on Wildlife Filmmaker
Copy retrieval code to the clipboard by right-clicking.

If you do, make sure your title is short and sweet. Wildlife Filmmaker truncated my title "That sinking feeling" to "That sinking feel," completely deflating my clever pun.

I don't mean to be a total curmudgeon--I enjoyed putting together my movie, and so will kids, who will probably mash up animal sounds with opposing images. It's also a learning opportunity for younger kids to try their hand at simple, creative movie making and correct or imaginative animal match-ups.

Check out my video, "That Sinking Feeling" (ahem), at the Wildlife Filmmaker Web site by pasting my code into the retrieval field: 271436876.

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