At the NYVideo Meetup at AOL last night the room was packed with videophiles looking to see the next cool thing. One in particular really stood out – Spreecast, a social video platform that enables people to have conversations about what they are passionate about. One to four people can talk on video while thousands of people watch. These thousands of people can ask questions, they can chat and any of them can go on air. The key to this technology is that creators have full control over the experience and can make a broadcast experience just as Brittany Spears did last week. It fits in between Facebook and Twitter that provide a way to communicate through text and between Skype and Apple’s Facetime, that are private conversations.
When asked about his challenges in creating the platform, Robert Hunt, the co-founder said, “When we started building this, our technology providers did not have the technology to support what we were trying to do. For instance, when we first started echo cancellation wasn’t built into Flash. That meant that everybody had to use headphones. Originally you couldn’t talk to people without hearing this horrible feedback, so partly working with Adobe but also anticipating their roadmaps and figuring out when this would be released, our product could be much better. So one of the interesting things is that other people’s technology roadmaps have enabled what we do. There’s not another good way to talk to people face-to-face in a public open way – especially not in a way that’s recorded.”
Jeff Rubin, editor in chief and Paul Briganti, director, presented their company Jest, a topical comedy site. “We do comedy videos in a very good turnaround. That’s the challenge of what we do – is making things so quickly and also funny and being high enough production value to compete with other comedy-video sites in the marketplace,” said Briganti.
He also pointed out that there are a lot of other people, both professional and amateur, making comedy videos online, “But there wasn’t anyone specifically focusing on this idea of doing videos around what people are talking about, so they get passed around. We do the elections, political and pop culture things, like when Tom Cruise and Katy Holmes broke up. That video did really well – it was about them explaining to Suri what happened. It was all about specifics for signing a contract to get married for a shame marriage and explaining it in little kid’s terms.”
The founder of Storyplanet.com, Bjarke Mythu, came up with a builder tool that lets users create packages of videos, text and photos and combine them all into little websites, presentations or portfolios. “It’s different from other startups in that it’s interactive so you can add buttons, maps and timelines on top of it,” he said. “It’s easier to use than Flash or HTML or other tools that you have to code. I had been working in photography and video for a long time creating interactive documentaries, and I needed a really good publishing platform. I couldn’t find any, so I decided to build it myself. There were challenges to make this, at certain times your doubting. But fundamentally I tell myself that we are building something great that the world really needs.”
Zentrick is a company that does interactive online video that transforms video into a two-way communication channel. “Video is very static and is a great storytelling tool, but it’s very bad at capturing audiences,” said Peter Mees. “And then pushing them down into that sales funnel and having people buy stuff, do stuff, play games and interact with all video content they’re getting. It’s different because you can define those interactive experiences once, and they will run on any device that can be embedded on multiple channels.”
Asked what’s trending now in video, Steve Rosenbaum, co-organizer and host of NYVideo, said that what he is seeing is an interesting battle of ‘who’s going to win the living room’. “It’s gone from devices — I think we know is going to be IP TV and there will be some screens and some boxes – and now the real question is content. If you look at YouTube or Google originals, they are very transparent about what is trending, and some of the stuff that is trending isn’t necessarily what you would have expected. I think the thing that we don’t know the answer to yet is what the next generation of video watchers is going to want to see on their flat screen. And the question is, will it be Hollywood content, will it be big branded studio content or will it be more authentic, authored first person? There’s some evidence that web video might change the balance in Hollywood.”