Switchcam, a startup BetaKit last covered when it raised a $1.2 million funding round led by Mark Cuban, announced today the public beta launch of its Switchcam Director feature in addition to a new iPhone app. Using its technology, users will now be able to create multi-angle and multi-camera videos of events, with the company specifically targeting large events like concerts, weddings, and conferences.
“The premise here is that every family in the country has smartphones in their pockets and they’ve all got video cameras. When was the last time you saw a sitcom or a film that was only shot in one camera angle? There’s a disconnect here, that everyone has a camera in their pocket, but don’t have the editing skills or tools to put it all together,” said CEO Brett Welch in an interview with BetaKit. “So with Switchcam, we’re making it super easy for people to create multi-camera videos, our first step is Switchcam Director…[it] provides all the all tools, a messaging system to simulate the relationship between a camera crew and a director.”
To get started with Switchcam’s platform, users or in this case “directors” schedule shoots by creating an event page. They can then share the page link and invite any one of their friends, family members, fans, or event attendees to join through Facebook. Once registered as part of the film crew, members can submit video using the iPhone app or a professional camera. And for those more interested in viewing the event rather than taking part in filming it, they can follow the event without contributing any video.
The event organizers then have access to a dashboard using the startup’s patented video synchronization technology, helping them curate and publish the video to the event page. They’re able to select up to three primary videos or angles for each chapter in the video, while making secondary videos also available, so users can change which angle they watch the event from at any given time.
Currently the entire process, from creating, curating, and publishing, is free on the platform. Where the startup plans to monetize is from the directors, which could be bands, artists, and conference planners, who would like a YouTube-ready file edited and ready to go, which the company will produce for $95. Welch said this is much cheaper than paying a video production house to edit together fan footage, but puts the onus on the organizers to recruit fans to contribute videos on Switchcam’s platform.
When asked where Switchcam stood in the social video creation space, Welch said there are several startups pursuing different fragments of what the platform offers, but nothing that matches it completely. Only recently BetaKit has seen a handful of companies like Moment.me, which launched an Android app this week, and Qwiki, which launched its latest iPhone app, attempt to help people aggregate their media into experiences, though they don’t focus specifically on video. Then there are other more direct competitors like Groovideo and Streamweaver that attempt to help users create multi-angle videos shot on their iPhones. Where the team at Swtichcam looks to stand out is that it wants its users to create full-blown movies and productions, by having access to its suite of tools and the ability to support video from any device, rather than snippets that may only last a few seconds, and it’s focusing on bands and event organizers rather than just the average user shooting iPhone video.
Having already worked with events like Lollapalooza, companies like PBS and artists like Switchfoot and The Hollywood Undead, Switchcam is currently pursuing additional partnerships to get its platform out to more users. Other planned features include the ability to create private events (currently the default is public), which will allow it to scale for events like weddings, in addition to a native Android app down the line. Though the social video space continues to become crowded, Switchcam’s focus on larger events, and helping anyone become part of capturing the footage, will help set it apart. How quickly it can grow will depend on how much users want to be part of the film crew, rather than sitting back and enjoying as the audience.