Monday, December 27, 2010

Wacky viral video maker forced to charge for services

Animation website Xtranormal whose cartoon-making tools have spawned viral videos of cuddly puppies debating such topics as quantitative reduction and the iPhone in stilted monotones is no longer offering free, unlimited use of its tools.

The change reflects the higher costs of running Xtranormal as the site's commonly grew.

More than 2 million people now use its easy moviemaking tools, up from about 500,000 in June. According to Xtranormal, those users have in print about 9.3 million videos so far. Some of the videos have received thousands or even millions of views, further boosting Xtranormal's fame and usage.

Then, as now, the videos don't comprise ads beyond an "Xtranormal" logo in the bottom left corner, and any characters and sets you buy are yours to use in other movies.

Users who signed up for the site before Thursday and already paid for characters or sets will be able to publish videos using those items for free until Feb. 1.

Bruno Langlais, Xtranormal's vice president of marketing, said the company had to inflict the new charges so it can become profitable quickly. Xtranormal expects to turn a profit for the first time in the first half of 2011.

The latest change could backfire, though, if current users those who boosted the site's fame through their videos become incensed by the change and stop using it.

Langlais doesn't believe this will happen: He said Xtranormal polled users before making the change and found them helpful.

He also pointed out that Xtranormal has revamped its online video-making tool to showcase more of the options users have when creating cartoons and, perhaps, entice them to buy more characters and sets.


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