Emerging Video Creation Platforms

YouTube and Vimeo, launched in 2005 and 2004 respectively, started as ways for the general public to share videos. Today both services host thousands of hours of professional content as well.

A number of significant new video platforms have also emerged thanks to the evolution of social networks, the availability of mobile devices for people to record spontaneous moments and an abundance of convenient content-manipulation tools.

Resources such as Socialcam and Viddy clearly indicate the rise in importance of mobile video. They offer enhancements – similar to those provided by Instagram for photo sharing – that tie into the social networking experience: users can view what’s popular, see/like/comment on videos by friends, and follow trending topics.

When recording videos through the Socialcam app, users can can apply a variety of filters including Rouge, 1970’s, Kodak, or the sponsored “House at the End of the Street” filter inspired by the newly released movie.  Videos are posted and shared via Socialcam’s network, accessible both through the mobile app and online, but are easily shareable out to a variety of social media feeds. Available for both iPhone and Android, Forbes has reported that SocialCam has over 6 million daily active users (DAU). Brands are already finding ways to leverage the network as part of their promotions strategies, ranging from products (e.g. Sprite, Axe), television series (e.g. Community), celebrities (e.g. Madonna), and media entities (eg, Cosmopolitan, Lionsgate).

Viddy differentiates itself with a maximum video length of 15 seconds, much like Twitter’s character count limit.  Viddy too has a collection of filters, from traditional styles like Vintage and Tele to  one that suggests a zombie attack (Warped).  At this time Viddy does not have an obvious brand outreach, but does have music available for users to select for their video, which could provide opportunities for music licensing / promotional campaigns for artists.  At this time, it has fewer daily active users (DAU) than Socialcam 1.5 million, but it is reported to have slightly higher engagement.

With an entirely different approach, Toontastic lets kids tell stories through video. The app, available for the iPad, is a hit with all ages. It guides users through the creation of an animated story, from set-up to conflict, through the challenge, to the climax and resolution.

Users pick a setting, characters, and music for each scene. They move the characters like puppets, and record their own narration using the onboard microphone. Unlike typical videos, Toontastic creations can only be viewed through its proprietary ToonTube system. Users can share ToonTube links on Facebook and Twitter.

Doodlecast, which lets you record your drawings along with a spoken narrative, is a Canadian-made offering for the iPad. There are two versions. The original for kids plays up storytelling, while Doodlecast Pro emphasizes presentation.

Like Toontastic, Doodlecast also has “starters,” eyes or a hat or boots that belong to a character, prompting the user to create a story about the character. Both produce videos that can be saved on the device or sent directly to YouTube. The Pro version allows Dropbox sharing.

Professional vs. Amateur

Can professional content creators and funders benefit from monitoring or measuring user-generated content? At first it seems industry benchmarking metrics have little in common with amateur production. Consumer engagement is another story though. In 2012, comScore reported on combined professional and user-generated videos in marketing campaigns.

They found that “professionally-produced content and product videos drove strikingly higher lifts when used together (with authentic, user-generated content) than when either was used individually.”

The comScore findings are just one study and the focus is mainly for advertisers. They do merit consideration nonetheless, especially if professional content creators turn to user-generated video on sharing platforms as a strategic companion.

Sasha Boersma
Sasha’s 15-year career in Canadian screen-media industries has spanned across game studios, television producers, funding agencies, and academia. She is producer for Sticky Brain Studios, which she cofounded, and works as a contract faculty at Centennial College’s Story Arts Centre.
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