By David Halevi
Imagine your life as an ongoing TV series. You, of course, would be the star, with a large supporting cast. You'd have “seasons,” and maybe even reruns, where you'd repeat the same actions in similar situations. You'd have “prime time” programs featuring the best moments of your life.
The TV series simile neatly explains the idea behind Israeli startup Vidoco (http://www.vidoco.com), says marketing director Tal Schmidt. “Vidoco is an easy and fun way to capture the important moments of your life, taking video of what is going on around you and uploading it to our site.”
Rather than a single video, it tells the story of your life to friends and relatives, who can follow your events and check your “progress” over time.
The app, available for the iPhone (Android version on the way), has numerous tools to help you do the documenting and uploading. Just point, shoot the video, and click on the upload button to get your video on the site.
Clips are arranged on a daily timeline interface to create a story. Viewers can follow the sequence, location, time and date of events as well as exploring other stories by age, gender and location. In addition, Vidoco offers editing tools for arranging clips across the timeline and privacy settings to control sharing options. You can configure the app to remind you that it's time to upload another chapter of your “saga.” Those who choose to follow your clips will get a reminder every time you upload, as well.
Not YouTube or Facebook
Unlike YouTube, Vidoco is not a one-shot deal, says Schmidt. “There are many video platforms on the Internet, all with different purposes, but none of them is focused on video documentary as we are. While our competitors offer random videos, Vidoco is a story and a relationship between the documentarian and viewer.”
And it's not Facebook, either. “We believe that the Facebook timeline, which the company recently introduced, will help users understand better what we are trying to do,” he says. “But while Facebook allows you to post videos, it also lets you upload photos, links and other things. We're just about the videos.”
It's not that Vidoco is better than YouTube or Facebook, Schmidt stresses. “But we serve a different purpose, and we serve it better than other services.”
In essence, Vidoco represents the maturation of Internet video – perhaps the first platform designed for people who have a story to tell, and from whom you would be interested in hearing more than once.
Vidoco's format would seem to be a natural fit for a TV series or an iTunes-style podcast, and in fact the company sees TV as a promising area for its technology.
“We are developing a platform to transfer our content from the web to TV sets, via set-top boxes and Internet-savvy televisions,” Schmidt says. “A user's profile will show up as a channel, via a podcast-type program built into the TV. This way, viewers can easily see new episodes, delivered to their content-management system.”
This is your life
As the first phase of their foray into TV, the Vidoco team is set to close a deal with a major Israeli Internet portal that will use the company's platform to produce an Internet “reality TV” series, which will feature individuals uploading a series of clips to tell a story – and the winner will receive a prize at the end.
The platform could be used to follow a class from the beginning of the term to the end, or to tell the story of a kid's soccer team that went from last place to the championship, or to show the progress of a pregnancy. Or, it could be used as a sort of Internet “This is Your Life” tribute to a retired employee or beloved friend or relative.
Vidoco soon plans to introduce a tool that can search out highlights of clips and assemble them into a “best-of” video, making Vidoco the go-to platform for online video story-telling.
Tel Aviv-based Vidoco, with a team of four, is still in beta – the app was released at the end of 2011 – and has hundreds of users around the world. So far the company is self-funded, but Schmidt says that venture capital money is on the way.
“Our official launch will take place in the coming months. We are just putting the finishing touches on the platform, at which time we will be making a major push to expand the user base,” Schmidt says, adding that “because we are truly unique in a crowded space, I believe we are going to garner a lot of attention.”