Who doesn’t want to be in movies? Probably the people who have to edit them. A new SaaS platform bills itself as Google Docs for videos
Remember what it was like to edit a document before Google Docs?
You probably used the ‘”track changes” feature in Microsoft Word. Revisions got sent back and forth through email, and if there were more than two people working on a document, or more than two sets of revisions, things got complicated very fast. Just figuring out who had the latest version of the document could be a royal pain.
If you think that’s hard, imagine what it’s like to edit video. A video clip has 24 frames per second, which translates to 1440 frames per minute. Then there’s sound, music, effects, voice over. But that’s not all: the director, producer, client, effects people, and everyone working on the video has to watch and have their say. Imagine someone stuck a comment in at 3:40 minutes and then suddenly the video gets ten seconds shorter.
Yoni Gur-Zeev was a special effects artists for commercials and feature films, and he experienced this headache first hand. He would create a special effect, and at least five people would have to sign off on it. This involved rounds of emails, as well as lots of uploading and downloading of large video files. You can see some of Gur-Zeev’s special effects work in this video.
Today Gur-Zeev and his co-founder Inbal Voitiz launched LookAt, a cloud solution for video production teams. The service allows video makers to share and discuss work in progress, with frame-level sketches and annotations and smart version management. Best of all, a team can collaborate on editing the video in real-time. And they can create groups, similar to Whatsapp, so several conversations can take place simultaneously. For instance, the internal production team can carry on collaborative conversations that exclude the client.
“As video professionals ourselves, we realized that email, file sharing or basic annotation tools are limiting the industry’s efficiency and potential” said Yoni Gur-Zeev, LookAt’s CEO.
“Video makers really need a cloud service that is as collaborative as Google Docs, and as group-oriented as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.”
Computer vision algorithm
No hot new app would be complete these days without some sort of computer vision algorithm. LookAt boasts an algorithm that can auto-detect shot changes and relocate annotations across versions. Thus, if you comment on a certain frame, that comment won’t get lost when the video gets longer or shorter.
But Gur-Zeev says these are not really competitors.
“Unlike the products you mentioned, LookAt is not a video editing tool. It’s a platform to collaborate over video files. Once the video maker creates a version using one of these tools, they share it, using LookAt, with team members and clients. This solves the major pain point of getting everyone’s feedback and review in the creation process. Inbal and myself both come from a production background, and this was always a huge, frustrating pain.”
Gur-Zeev says Adobe Anywhere comes closest to his product, but it’s not cloud-based, it requires on-premise servers, and is very costly.
“It’s an overkill for 95% of video productions today.”
LookAt’s target audience consists of independent video makers and mid-size studios as well as ad agencies. The product will be free at launch, and will later charge a monthly fee with usage tiers (based on video length, number of videos, storage etc.)
The SaaS market is growing. By 2016, IDC Research predicts about 25 percent of new business software purchases will be SaaS. But the SaaS model is not without data security risks. If you’re the CIA, you might want an in-house video collaboration platform.
Gur-Zeev and his co-founder Voitiz are part of a trend of artists and other right-brained people launching tech companies. As software eats the world, it is not just your stereotypical math savant who enters tech. Let’s hope their product can take some of the frustration out of video editing and unleash filmmakers’ untapped creativity.