Steve Chen and Chad Hurley

Steve Chen and Chad Hurley

Steve Chen and Chad Hurley

Steve Chen and Chad Hurley

Steve Chen and Chad Hurley

Steve Chen and Chad Hurley

Steve Chen and Chad Hurley

Steve Chen and Chad Hurley

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MixBit, The New App From YouTube's Founders, Aims To Turn Everyone Into A Filmmaker

With YouTube, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen made publishing videos easy. Now they want to make it just as easy to create them.

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]

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  • Cat Rambo

    In this network, surely the creative cinematic forces of the Internet will converge and the ultimate cat video be born.

  • Jturpin Aus

    I've tried it, there is no search, so no one can find your video, unless you are lucky enough to have it featured, there's not much space for descriptions ,I can't find how to comment on video's.
    It could be great, but they need to put alot more work into it !

  • Anthony Reardon

    You guys are going to have to fill me in a bit because I don't get the short clip movie parameter as a desirable application. I know there's an assumption that people have shorter attention spans on the web, so coming out with apps tailored to that only makes sense. However, as a producer of media, I'm inclined to believe that few people flat out actually want to produce short clips. It might just be more about developers putting apps forward and wanting to influence them as desired, but that is very backwards IMHO if the case.

    So I saw Twitter do this with status updates limited to 140 characters. Obviously that has been very successful, but I don't think because people actually want to produce short blips. It's in their benefit to do so as a technology company though. First off, less data per action. Second off, it supports feed browsing which is a discovery behavior. Thirdly, it is a match to mobile interactions.

    I can see how a technology company would want to do this and how it would gain social traction with media consumers, but I think it is fatally flawed if too much of a creative constraint to media producers. It's like creating an app that allows for thin strip images at 20 px height. On the same logic, maybe that's the next hot app, lol!

    No. I love movies. I want an app that's going to help me easily do what the pro's make look easy. I don't want to invest in the serious equipment, software, and expertise to make a beautiful film quality video. That's too expensive and difficult- just not accessible to me. Yet, there could be a better app for that. It could be made far more accessible, and I bet businesses would be happy to fork out $50 to $100 a pop to be able to easily produce beautiful video for their social media campaigning.

    Little clips and combining little clips up to an hour does not sound like "it" to me.

    Best, Anthony

  • Danny Indio (Film Strategy)

    Thanks for pointing out this new app, Sarah. If I read correctly, you can only use clips that are on the site or clips you create yourself. Sounds like it could be a good way for users to create multiple versions of an experience or study, lots of time lapse or stop motion pieces and interesting montages. Good for  regular people or schoolchildren creating things like science projects, travel presentations, how-to videos, etc and film makers making animation, experimental and narrative shorts.

    With clips only up to 16 seconds long, filmmakers won't be able to use cinematic long takes (or if they want to, will have to have actors freeze until the director resumes shooting). This could lead to videos and, later on, scripts with quick, choppy and snappy dialogue/action and an A.D.D. style of filmmaking.  That might not be a big problem for now but it will influence how storytellers create stories if this becomes as ubiquitous as YouTube. I'm still curious to check it out though as it joins the Vine-dominated playing field.One way I would use it as a filmmaker trying to market my project is to shoot clips for the movie that I'm working on and disseminate it on the site (after making a trailer for it) and allow people to make their own versions or even use parts of it for their own projects. This could be a good way to build a buzz and goodwill and get people interested in my project or me as a filmmaker.

  • e. taylor

    The app does not appear to be available for download on iOS today.  It's not showing up in the app store, nor is there a clickable link on the mixbit website.