When JumpCam founder David Stewart served as best man in a cruise-ship wedding two years ago, he noticed how unwieldy it was to collect footage from multiple sources to create a single video. “The hardware part was easy because everyone has a smartphone with a camera,” Stewart told Fast Company. “But the hard part was actually having everyone upload content to Dropbox. I had to put it together using iMovie, and it ended up being a lot of work.”
Stewart, a former vice president of product at Yammer who previously held roles at YouTube and PlayDom (acquired by Disney), said he had been thinking about social video for a number of years, but the wedding served as an impetus to focus on collaborative mobile video in particular. The result is an app that allows people to create videos others can contribute to: JumpCam. The company launched its iOS app Thursday and intends to debut an Android version in the coming weeks.
“You don’t need to be a video editor or videographer to use this product,” Stewart said. “If you want to do editing, you can drag and drop clips around. We really designed it to be simple and fun and easy.”
JumpCam videos can be viewed by people without the app, though users can specify settings to keep videos private, as well. The person who creates a video can decide who can add clips (up to 30, no more than 10 seconds a piece) and whether videos are automatically updated with new additions or published after they have been re-edited by their creators. A pilot effort with a couple thousand people, primarily in Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines, found that half of those users contributed clips to videos. Stewart has also noticed some more creative uses for JumpCam: For example, an indie folk band crowdsourced footage for its music video (above), and Funny or Die‘s Daniel Berson has been using the app to solicit silly hijinks, such as worst first-date lines (below).
Because of the collaborative nature of JumpCam, the app leverages the cloud to collect and process videos. “You have to redo your entire tech stack to do this,” Stewart said. For example, instead of using readily available filter libraries, which run locally on devices, the team had to build its own video filters. Infrastructure needs led JumpCam to raise $2.7 million last year, led by Google Ventures.
For now, the nine-person company is focused first on building community. “If we do that, opportunities to monetize will come later,” Stewart said. Still, he’s already having conversations with celebrity and brand managers, who see the potential to connect meaningfully with fans on the app. “If Zac Efron tweets something, a thousand people might tweet it, but it doesn’t feel like an authentic connection. [With JumpCam], you can build a conversation that feels really dynamic.”
[Images: JumpCam, Flickr user Josué Goge]