Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Interview with Allison Dollar, SnapCuts
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
In a mobile world, what's a unique way to reach out to your friends and others? One way is to create your own, custom video clip which you can share via email, text message, or through a social networking site like Facebook. Los Angeles-based SnapCuts (www.snapcuts.com) does just that, allow users to tap into a wide collection of clips, which can be re-mixed, combined with text, and sent to your friends. We spoke with Allison Dollar, Chief Strategy Officer at the company and member of the founding team, about what the company's service is all about.
What is the SnapCuts service?
Allison Dollar: SnapCuts is a digital media marketing platform, which uses social video messaging. From the consumer's side, what they do is they browse our library of clips, mix and match those in a timeline, mashing those videos in the order they want, and add a text message. They can then share that across a social network. The thing that is interesting, from our content partners and to brands and agencies, is all of the clips has metadata which is transact-able. For example, if someone is browsing a clip, they can see the origin of that, if it's a movie, and that can be linked to a DVD, or merchandise, or a T-shirt. We have a mobile app, and a Facebook app, and all of that can be private labeled.
What kind of clips can people access?
Allison Dollar: It goes to the whole trend of mashups in general. If you look at it, it's across the spectrum. It provides a more personalized and interesting video card, and can also be used to enhance a text message. Say I want to tell you I'm running late in a text, and I'm sitting around waiting somewhere. I can brose and find a locomotive moving and add a message saying I'm late. You can also search for clips by genre or occasion, such as happy birthday -- anything you might typically find on an e-card -- and we can provide a short clip of 3-7 seconds, fit together in any order you put them in. It a way of using video for self expression.
Why would brands would use this?
Allison Dollar: An example would be studios, which have a franchise of feature films. People are using catchphrases or one liners from those movies, and brands can sell movie tickets or merchandise around those clips. Brands that have a fan base can use it as a marketing platform, and they can push things out to their list. For a receiver, the receiving page on SnapCuts can also be branded or skinned.
What's your team's background?
Allison Dollar: The founder, Bee Ottinger, is a world renown pioneer in video editing, and is known more for her marketing for folks like Michael Jackson and Shakira, and in televisoin ads. She loves the notion of the creative process of video and editing. But, what she found was that not everyone has an editor's eye, and can use those video and video tools. What we've done, is we've taken all the work out of that process, and made it so any video can fit together, and that it would have a narrative and flow, no matter how you mix and match those videos. We saw that people were doing all kinds of creative things to fuse video. We thought it would be nice to combine that with sending a text message, which is how the whole thing started. The rest of our team comes out of the film, television, streaming media, and startup world, mostly in the interactive entertainment world.
Where are you in terms of launch?
Allison Dollar: We're just launching, and did a preview during CES. We also were at SXSW, and added a number of indie banks and other folks to our library. Now, we're doing a push with a social agency, and are just starting to pull the trigger on advertising. We're mainly on the speaking circuit, talking to people who are interested in putting money into something fun and exciting.
Was it difficult to connect all of this together on the technical side?
Allison Dollar: It's taken quite a bit of development. As I said, we're out of the streaming media and webcast area, and have a long history in that part of the world, but it's not an easy matter to be able to stitch together clips smoothly, especially when you're adding text messages. It' snot just playback, it's also stitching things together, rearranging things, and all sorts of things. We have our secret sauce in there, and we're figuring out if all of that is patent-able or not, and are jumping through the hoops to do all of that. It took us seven or eight months to put this together.
Finally, what's the next step for you?
Allison Dollar: We're busy just starting promotion. We're in the middle of the financing pitch cycle, and we also have other things in the pipeline for the product, including letting people upload videos themselves, and other UI and API features. We're also going to let people add customized text and sound effects, and those sorts of things. One of the big landmarks was to get our mobile app into the iTunes store.