When Google wanted to boost the quality of YouTube’s content, it gave out $5 million in grants to select creators. YouTube cofounders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, who sold the service to Google in 2006, are now tackling the same problem, but with a different philosophy.
They hope that a new app they are launching on Thursday, called MixBit, will make shooting quality video scalable and accessible to everyone.
“Unfortunately I think YouTube is going down the route of rewarding the select few around content creation, be it with partnerships or with ways of funding original content,” Hurley told Fast Company. “I can understand, it’s great to stimulate the community and make money available to them. But I feel that’s a more traditional approach to solving the problem. It’s basically replicating the studio model...I’m looking for something that doesn’t necessarily alienate any group of people, but gives them all equal access.”
That apparently includes people who never shoot any video. With MixBit, as with Instagram video and Vine, users touch their phones’ screens to take multiple video clips that the app combines into one video. But only MixBit allows other people to use those clips, if they’re public, in their own videos.
After the Fourth of July, for instance, someone might search for other people's fireworks shots to use in their own video of fireworks around the country. Whoever views that video can easily browse through the clips that compile it, grab the ones they like for their own videos, and see how many times each has been reused. It turns creating video into a public, collaborative process. “Content begets content,” explains Hurley. “It’s this idea that the more content is created on the site, enables more content to be created.”
MixBit is the second product of AVOS Systems (the name stands for “audio visual operating system”), a company Hurley and Chen founded after leaving YouTube. The company's first public move was to acquire bookmarking tool Delicious in 2011, and its first product was a Vine clone released earlier this year that was designed to work well in China. Hurley describes the goal of his company, which has teams working in San Mateo, Beijing, and Dunedin, New Zealand, as innovating media creation and discovery.
With this latest app, he hopes to make video creation more like YouTube made video distribution. "I love video," he says. "I love the power of video. The ability for people to express their thoughts and feelings through video...I guess I’m just somewhat frustrated that people have the means to distribute their content, they have the tools to capture it, but it’s a hard thing to do."
Part of making good video easier includes long-game parameters. While Instagram supports videos only up to 15 seconds long and Vine cuts its users off at a six-second loop, MixBit videos can be as long as an hour (each clip within that hour can be up to 16 seconds long). The service also allows users to save and edit their work, so videos can span an entire vacation or event. Eventually Hurley says he hopes to add features for storyboarding and scriptwriting.
But as most popular video apps target our short attention spans, is there really an appetite for MixBit's shareable feeds of long, quality video?
Hurley’s heard this one before: “I guess it just depends on how much time you’re trying to kill at work,” he says.
[Photos courtesy of MixBit | Eric Millette]