This past week, three of my family members had birthdays. Rather than send them traditional paper birthday cards, or canned e-cards, I decided to do something a little different. I created a series of humorous musical videos using their faces in the videos. Some of the videos I e-mailed directly, while others were posted on Facebook as a public celebration of their birthdays. The Web site that I used to create these videos is JibJab (jibjab.com).
You may have seen JibJab videos in the past and not known it. Some of the local morning news shows have created and shown JibJab videos using the faces of local celebrities in the comical videos. On several occasions on some of the cable news channels and cable comedy shows, JibJab videos have played a prominent part in a funny or satirical presentation. Imaginative individuals have posted more than 16,400 JibJab videos on YouTube, which is a good resource to see what creative people can do on JibJab.
For those who might not be aware of JibJab, it is a Web based service that offers its users over a thousand personalized e-cards, and more than 500 “Staring You” videos and photos that can be personalized with the faces of anyone who has their image as a digital photo. While there are often a limited number of e-cards and videos available to anyone for free, often with a nearby holiday theme, JibJab requires a paid membership in order to make full use of its services. A typical membership on JibJab costs only a dollar a month ($12 per year), but sometimes discounted deals are available; I recently paid $6 for my annual membership, taking advantage of a daily deal posted on dealnews.com. User can log in to JibJab using existing Facebook accounts or create their own JibJab accounts.
With Valentine’s day fast approaching, that special day will be a busy day for JibJab. JibJab offers a total of 136 Valentine themed e-cards and videos, some of which are available for free, without a paid membership. While the e-cards are cute, I personally prefer the customized videos using the images of my acquaintances. For those who might not be romantic or who want other genres, JibJab also offers large collections of themed e-cards and videos for other occasions, including birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and engagements, get well, Christmas, Hanukah, Halloween, Thanksgiving, 4th of July (and other patriotic holidays), thank you cards, friendship, and several other topics and events. Some categories are explicitly for children, often utilizing popular cartoon or nursery rhyme themes.
To create a JibJab video, open the Web site at JibJab.com and choose a topic, event, or genre. Under each of those is a selection of relevant e-cards and videos. The items that are available to all for free have a red “FREE” banner on the top-left corner, while all of the others require the paid membership. For demonstration purposes, I selected the “Dance” group, which displayed four free dance videos, and 18 for members only. The four free dance videos, all of which can be customized to use anyone’s faces, include Star Wars, Disco, Chippendales and Justin Bieber. To create a particular video, simply click on it and follow the uncomplicated on-screen instructions.
For this column, I chose to put myself in the freely available “Star Wars – A New Hope” video. Clicking on the “Get Started” button opened another window where photos in the .jpg or .png formats can be uploaded from the user’s computer or imported from Facebook. Once uploaded, the images can be zoomed, cropped, dragged and tilted to fit in the template shown, with the eyes lined up on a specific line. If the face on the uploaded image is of unusual shape, there is an opportunity to fine tune the shape by dragging an outline to better fit the image of the face. Many of the videos have the characters talking or singing, so there is a step where the shape of the mouth is selected, again with the provided template dragged to the shape and size of the mouth in the image. The image can then be named and saved for later use. The process is repeated until the desired number of faces have been imported into the service. For the Star Wars video, I used the faces of one of my granddaughters, my wife, Gov. Rick Perry, and my face. Total time to upload, align, and name all four images was about two minutes. I then had to drag and drop the faces onto the “question marks” in the video template, which only took a few seconds. I previewed the video to make sure that it looked OK, and then clicked “done.”In a matter of seconds, JibJab created my Star Wars video, which is now available for viewing at sendables.jibjab.com/view/IiMDHNAWjGLB2wRq. Total time from selecting the video, uploading and aligning the faces, dragging the faces into place, and showing the finished video was just under five minutes. For free, the finished video can be posted on Facebook, shared on Twitter and MySpace, e-mailed (the link), embedded on a Web site (code provided), or downloaded (for a fee). If paid for and downloaded, the video can be uploaded to Facebook and YouTube, used in a PowerPoint, loaded on to a smart phone, or saved to a computer or other type of storage device or media. Non-members pay $4.99 to download a video, while members pay $1.99.
For only a dollar a month (discounts sometimes available), JibJab allows the user to create, post, and send any or all of thousands of highly personalized videos and e-cards. In addition to a few-minutes long video, using some third party media burning software, multiple JibJab videos can be burned to a CD or DVD and played in series. For a recent departmental Christmas party, I spent one evening creating about a dozen Christmas and Hanukah themed JibJab videos, burned them to a DVD, and entertained the group for a full hour of continuous guffaws and hysterical laughter. All of the images in the videos on the DVD were of my co-workers in a variety of musical, comical and classical themes, some a little risqué. Watching my co-workers sing, dance, and act in classical and artistic roles was very funny. In one classical Christmas Story scene, my secretary froze her tongue to the schoolyard flagpole; in another classical JibJab movie, a co-worker played the part of George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” with other co-workers playing the other roles. Among hoots and hollers, we all watched ourselves square dance, disco, tango, break dance and Charleston, and perform other theatrical and circus acts.
Whether using the limited free selections, or the reasonably priced complete collection of videos and e-cards, JibJabs are fun and fast to create and share.
Listen to Ira Wilsker’s weekly radio show on Mondays from 6-7 p.m. on KLVI 560AM.