SnapCuts Makes Video Montages the New Ecards

By Michael Carney , written on June 5, 2012

From The News Desk

In a sea of social video and messaging sameness, SnapCuts offers an entirely different and appealing solution. The company’s newly released iOS app allows users to choose from a library of professionally edited video clips and "snap" them together to create a montage that expresses a personal message.

For most average users, creating compelling and high quality video is far more difficult than photography. That’s why SnapCuts has curated a library of thousands of short five to ten second clips from modern and classic television, film, and commercials to use as a basis for message creation. Messages can contain up to seven clips total, making this an approachable means of short-form communication.

Relevance is an early issue. Today the content is more "The Three Stooges" than "The Simpsons" or "Game of Thrones," but the library is expanding daily. This may be an issue for the youngest users, but the company argues that classic content is timeless. The SnapCuts concept seems interesting enough to overcome whatever initial obstacle this presents.

All content in the SnapCuts library is professionally edited for pacing and to clearly translate a single emotion or idea. The objective is that through engaging and familiar media references users can create messages that convey sentiment in a fun and engaging way. This translated well in the sample videos I’ve seen and made myself.

Users can then predictably add a personalized text message and share their creations privately or via social networks. The recipient can view the video in a browser and does not need to download or open the app. Video messages cannot be downloaded or saved offline, but they can be saved within a user’s SnapCuts account. Individual clips can be favorited as well for easy discover in the future.

SnapCuts quietly released a web version of its solution into private beta earlier following a launch at CES. But mobile is the key to really driving engagement in this category.

“[Mobile devices are] the ideal interfaces for consuming content,” says founder Bee Ottinger. “They are also ideal for easy-to-use content creation software like SnapCuts, which is designed to simplify not only the process of self-expression, but of sharing as well."

For the content owners, SnapCuts offers an alternative means of promoting and monetizing their video assets and brands. The platform will serve strategic ads alongside content including embeds, page wrappers, and to a lesser extent banners. In most cases, these ads will highlight the content creator or owner, such as opportunities to purchase a DVD or other related goods.

From a publisher and content owner perspective, the result is that each video message becomes an opportunity to create a custom marketing campaign. For users, on the other hand, this free service just got a little less appealing.

More interestingly, I think, is SnapCuts' plan to white label its solution for studio, network, and brand partners. At least in this environment, users would be deliberately visiting a branded environment rather than looking to send a creative personal message to their friends.

Ottinger is a renowned video editing pioneer with credits in some of the biggest music videos and blue chip brand commercials of the last quarter century. She is famous for using the quick cuts, jump cuts, visual effects, and nonlinear montage techniques now ubiquitous in commercials and music videos.

The SnapCuts founder has worked on music videos for Shakira, Justin Timberlake, Guns 'n Roses, and Michael Jackson among many others. She has also done television commercials for premium brands such as Calvin Klein, Nike, Chrysler, and Samsung.

Previously, Ottinger founded Skylight Productions, which was acquired by Mad River Post. After coming up with the concept for SnapCuts, she built the entire product with only the help of a few technical interns and with no outside financing.

It’s hard to disagree that video is among the most expressive and interesting means of communicating a message. Ottinger knows the medium well and has rolled out a polished and intriguing product given its early stage. SnapCuts seems like the mobile and video answer to Web 1.0 ecards and gives users the potential to say "I'm sorry" or "I had so much fun!" in entirely new and more engaging ways.