Shooting mobile video tends to be a one of the few experiences that remains relatively secluded, cut off from the social web. Sure you can share what you’ve filmed after the fact, but that’s post-process. Actually creating video socially is something few have attempted, and fewer have pulled off with any sort of success. LA-based Vyclone, which retains an engineering department in London, is hoping to be the one that puts mobile social video creation on the map.
Vyclone works by automatically collecting video shot from multiple mobile devices in a single area, and then combining those feeds into one, with cuts interspersed automatically to switch the angle from which you’re seeing the action. Vyclone does all the heavy lifting via proprietary algorithms; all individual movie-makers need to do is point and shoot, and the resulting video is automatically time-synced with feeds from other Vyclone users in the immediate vicinity (the geo-fence is set at about 150 metres for now, but the Vyclone team said that’s still something they’re working out and could vary on an event-specific basis in the future). If the feed and cuts that are automatically generated from combined Vyclone sources aren’t what a user was looking for, they can also dig in and do some manual editing, using a simple touch and tap interface to select between feeds.
In an interview with Vyclone founders David King Lassman and Joe Sumner, BetaKit learned that what the app wants to be above all else is an experience anyone could pick up and enjoy. In a demo, the founders demonstrated how easy it is to create a Vyclone – the barrier to entry is about as low as the one for just shooting video on an iPhone with the built-in camera application. And because Vyclone automatically generates camera cut points using algorithms developed by the company’s engineers, individual users don’t have to get their hands dirty with the editing process if they don’t want to. That kind of frictionless functionality helps Vyclone avoid one of the biggest stumbling blocks generally encountered by any kind of collaborative media creation, which is a reluctance to devote too much time and effort to what, for many, will still ultimately be a casual pursuit.
There are multple possibilities for how Vyclone might be used, but Lassman noted that so far, a lot of attention has been paid to its potential in terms of citizen journalism. “We’re kind of vertical market agnostic; we see Vyclone as a fantastic social app that lends itself to lots of different verticals,” he said. “What the press in the UK seized on was its application as a citizen journalism tool, and we’ve known about it being appropriate to that market, but what was fascinating was the extent to which people latched on to that.” A lot of people were talking about how Vyclone could’ve been used during social revolutions like the Arab Spring.
But despite the tendency of UK coverage to center on that particular angle, Lassman said that the startup has already been in contact with a number of different companies of all sizes and in various industries about using the app. Some sample use cases he cited were for event coverage, like concerts and car races, where a multi-angle social video feed made up of recordings made via mobile obviously make a lot of sense. There are other startups tackling social video, like Switchcam, which allows users to upload videos from events and then compiles them into one comprehensive multi-user mutli-angle view of the event. There are also collaborative video apps like Israel-based Groovideo, which allows friends to record video and edit it together, for example to send a birthday message to another friend in a different location.
Vyclone is and will remain free, but the company’s founders see plenty of opportunities to make money down the road, through sponsored partnerships. They’re also working on ways in which video creators might be able to work together to make money from licensing their creations, though right now, one of Vyclone’s core tenets is that once you’ve shot video and uploaded it to the service, you’re basically giving up any claims on it in terms of it being your own intellectual property.
“Today, everybody’s just launching into a big experiment. It’s kind of the way things are going, with Facebook and everything else, people seem to be willing to give everything up,” Sumner told us, discussing why Vyclone today approaches IP with a blanket free-to-use policy. Still, he also hinted at what’s ahead for the future that might be different.
“I think there’s a big case for us to develop that paradigm into a marketplace paradigm,” he said. “One where you can say, ‘If everybody’s in the Vyclone world, and everybody has the expectation that films will be made with at least more than one angle, there will be plenty of content to make it an interesting world,’ and then to say ‘Actually, my viewpoint’s so interesting that I’m going to own it, that people are going to buy into it or access by being somehow also special.’”
That might take the form of a content licensing model for special Vyclone creators whose perspectives are particularly well-respected, or allow for premium tiered members who have special sharing privileges with one another.
Right now, Vyclone is an app, and a particularly cool one, that provides UK users (a North American launch is planned for sometime in the next couple of months, as is an iPad app) with a way to collaborate on mobile video in an immediate and instantly gratifying way. The founders also shared that they hope to work with other mobile video players to help them integrate with Vyclone where it makes sense, so this could be the beginning of an exciting new platform play in the mobile creative space.