Finding the Magic

By : Alex Collmer


A while back, I wrote a blog post on why we think VidMob is going to create jobs. A lot of jobs. One of the central premises of that post was that we are in the early stages of a general transition from a text-based society to a video-based society. And as this trend accelerates, we will continue to see companies attacking all aspects of the expanding video ecosystem – storage, delivery, annotation, compression, deep searching, advertising, etc.

We argued in the last post that while most areas of the video continuum are increasingly well-serviced, the front-end creation point remains a pain point – a pain point felt by billions of consumers and nearly every business in the world.

Not surprisingly, VidMob is not the only company attacking this problem.  This gets us to the topic of today’s blog post.  And it also gets us to the idea of magic. From the earliest days of childhood, nearly all of us have grown up exposed to video. Movies inspire us. They scare us. They make us cry.  They make us appreciate our own relationships more. And increasingly, television is doing the same thing.  In short, from an early age, we are conditioned to feel enhanced emotion from watching video.

But it has always been outside of our reach, something that could only be created by unknown geniuses thousands of miles away. We idolized the people who created these masterpieces, and assume that the process through which it is done is nothing short of magic.

In many ways, YouTube originally helped reinforce this belief. The videos on YouTube were just like our videos. The fact that so many other people created stuff just as bad as mine gave me comfort.  But that has all started to change rapidly as the quality of video on the web increases. Now, countless people and businesses around the world are realizing that they need to get a piece of this magic on their own, and they are trying to figure out how.

And herein lies the crux of the issue – what is the nature of the magic and where does it live.   For the companies attacking this problem, there is a near religious-level difference of opinion on the answer to this question. VidMob’s competitors believe that the magic can be provided by an algorithm, either in the cloud or resident on your device. They believe that people are the problem, creating unnecessary cost, delay and difficulty. They believe that human creativity can be replicated by a software program, offered instantaneously, cheaply, and scaled to infinity. When the magic is in the algorithm, all of the problems associated with person-to-person transactions fall away. In this schema, we all become Spielberg in a few seconds with nothing more than an “easy button” on our phones.

We actually agree with this to some extent.  We believe deeply in the vision of an easy button on our phones being the only things standing in the way of anyone getting a great video about any important life event.  Where we differ is on where the magic lies.  At VidMob, we believe that you cannot replace human creativity with a machine. The algorithm doesn’t know whether my kid scored a goal or fell on his face. It doesn’t know whether I landed the joke, or if everyone is actually laughing at me. And most of all, the algorithm doesn’t know how to construct uniquely creative works. A small business video “scaled to infinity” and looking essentially the same each time is actually worse than no video at all.

Technology is important at VidMob too. But our technology does something different.  It ensures that that same “easy button” experience exists, and then shepherds you through to a truly wonderful video with all of the ease of getting a car on Uber. It matches you up with a human editor of your choice. It manages your communication so that you get to the end point with remarkable ease. It handles versioning.  It does all of this in a safe and secure environment. And finally, it handles payment so that editors are paid immediately for their work, and consumers pay after they’ve received their little piece of magic.

We agree with our competitors that there is plenty of magic in video editing. We just think it’s a little further left on the diagram.