Xtranormal is a free, text-to-movie tool that takes the complex process of creating a movie and turns it into a 4 step process:

  1. Begin by choosing the set
  2. Then the actors
  3. Then the sounds and music
  4. And last, typing what you’d like your actors to say

You can make changes as often as you like and create a preview before you create your final movie. It has a very easy-to-use interface that gets movies up and running within a few minutes, and allows for a lot of control on the product (choose camera angles, animations, expressions, looks, points, and sounds).

Here’s an example I found through Viz, a visual rhetoric website maintained by the University of Texas, that shows a student project on animal testing done in a Larry King interview format:

While Xtranormal is both free and easy to use, users have to create accounts to make movies, which might be a drawback in some classrooms, and free access limits choice in movie creation such as length and characters. Plus, since the voices are prerecorded, they can mispronounce or misplace emphasis when turning your text to sound. Nonetheless, the fact that you can take text and turn it into an animation in minutes is still impressive. Here’s a few ways you can use it in your own classroom:

  1. Create introductory videos (classroom rules, teacher intro, student intro, project or major assignment intro)
  2. Informative presentations on historical figures
  3. Current events summaries in news report formats
  4. Modern day adaptations of literary texts
  5. Learn film making techniques
  6. Create a commercial for a product
  7. Use in foreign language classes (Xtranormal is also available in a few other languages, including Spanish, French and German)
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