Portable drone and your news summaries on video

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK–If you’ve seen a drone, most likely you’re thinking how hard can it be to fly one, right? Well, it was not so easy for Easy Aerial’s CEO Ivan Stamatovski.

Stamatovoski was one of four other presenters at the NY Video Meetup last July 23 at the AOL offices.

“I have been flying a drone for two years but still suck at it,” he admitted.

Stamatovski came up with a drone that can also just fly on its own once you’ve configured it with a Google app from Google Maps. It just comes back to you once it’s done with its assignment.

Easy Drone is an advanced, modular quadcopter designed for videographers that need quick, easy and affordable aerial shots. It is convenient to transport and quick setup without tools. EasyDrone has wireless video and camera gimbal control built in as standard features.

“We also made a drone easy to use, transport and repair,” he claims.

The Easy Drone XP Pro is available for preorder at $1,695.

Another presenter was TouchCast, the leading interactive video platform used by media companies such as the BBC and WSJ, large corporations as well as by students and teachers around the world for video communications.

Co-founder Erick Schonfeld showed how TouchCast creates a full interactive TV studio inside an iPad, along with some bleeding-edge examples of what happens when video and the web merge together.

For publishers, Wibbitz showed how it automatically turns articles into short video summaries.

The scalable video production platform uses advanced text-to-video technology to automatically generate high quality branded content in seconds.

The platform’s unique text-to-video technology allows publishers to easily produce videos from text—at scale—and significantly increase their video ad revenue. The platform supports the creation of thousands of premium videos every day with streamlined editing tools and access to top-quality licensed content from partners, including Reuters and Getty Images.

It’s said to be a 100 -percent automatic process that allows you full control. You can upload your own voiceover and soundtrack.

Wibbitz claims to pay for license for the materials it uses. Because it doesn’t charge publishers, it offers revenue-sharing of ads.

Screening Room is an innovative web-based platform for collaborative feedback on films. You simply upload video drafts, and then engage with team members and screeners who can leave time-coded comments on the draft. The team will be providing a demo of their platform at the meetup.

The idea is to mirror creative workflow.

On the content side, Weirdos Next Door is an awesome series featuring puppets. Now in its third season, the show’s creators Jen and Kay spoke about their experience in the video world and what life is like as a creator.

NYTech demos showcase Artiphon, Skillfeed, Touchcast

By Dennis Clemente

Every month the NY Tech Meetup presents an evening of tech demos that look like the presenters are going to burst into song ala Broadway musical, if only because the magnificence of its venue–the Skirball Theater and its wide and luxurious space–transforms the most stoic presenter into a giddy presenter. It might just happen someday for all you know. You could call it NY Tech The Musical.

Last December 4, eight companies presented their startups and products. These are still too many demos judging by the antsy reactions from the audience by the fifth or sixth presentation. But it’s how they have formatted this show-and-tell for the longest time. It doesn’t hurt that the theater makes for comfortable seating.

Before the demonstrations, Senator Charles Schumer took to the stage reminding everyone about why he is for immigration reform (to bring or keep much-needed IT talent here) and patent reform (to protect startups). Keeping it convivial to suit the buoyant atmosphere, the senator said he was part of the demo. He should joke around more often.

The eight demonstrations proceeded accordingly with the audience mesmerized the most by Artihpon‘s Artiphon Instrument 1, a guitar hybrid of sorts — one that can play guitar, piano, violin, drum machine and more, as it uses Apple’s Garage Band app. It’s powered by iPhone in its belly. The demo made people hush down – and listen intently. Like I said, it felt like I was in a musical.

Another interesting demonstratation came from General Assemb.ly’s Skillfeed with its project-based narrative-led approach to learning web and app development from comprehensive video lessons and snack-bite videos.

General Assemb.ly founder Brad Hargreaves showed two nifty features–a checkpoint, which works to help learners make sure they are on the right track and another, a split screen that shows how your app design looks like as its rendered on a smartphone.

The other presenters of the night have been at some smaller show-and-tell meetups before, like Canopy Apps. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, it aims to facilitate healthcare coordination with patients who do not speak English. I like to think it’s an emergency interpretation app–with ready-made responses and a direct line to interpreters from all over.

It’s interesting how a different type of audience reacts to one product over another. Touchcast got oohs and ahhs when it presented to the NY Video group at Columbia University; they can certainly appreciate what Touchcast has achieved here. But here’s the solid on this: What the Touchcast team likes to call the video web may be the future of broadcasting.

Touchcast’s Erick Schonfeld, a former tech journalist, launched the desktop version at the venue, showing how it works when broadcasting a show.

He said it’s a way for us to get rid of the second screen, because you can have the Internet on your Touchcast screen as you capture everything around you on video. Multimedia journalists should love it.

Touchcast certainly deserved more than five minutes on that NY Tech meetup stage. Erick, you might as well do a musical with the Touchcast. That could go viral.

Other presenters included Hitlist, an alert system for getting affordable flights to your dream destinations using skyscanner for data; Nextdoor, a private social network for your neighborhood; and Priori Legal, which connects businesses to a network of trusted and vetted lawyers at below-market and fixed rates.

The last presenter and not in the schedule was Free the slaves, which demonstrated how it works to help law enforcement catch prostitution rings. Data is mostly mined from — guess where? — Craigslist.

Being a serious advocacy, we expected the night’s mood to shift to glum seriousness, but even the presenter hummed along as he showed code after code on the giant screen. He was the most musical of all.

It’s great how the NY Tech meetup gives startups their opportunity to present, but with its growing audience, it wouldn’t hurt to take the format to the next level. As it is, it’s like any other tech meetup in the city with its big venue as the only difference. It could be the TED Talks of startup demos if it wants to keep things interesting.

Is TouchCast the future of video web ala Minority Report?

By Dennis Clemente

The future of the video web ala Minority Report is already here. Charley Miller, head of product of TouchCast, presented it at the NY Video Meetup at Columbia University last July 23 as if he were ordering coffee when everybody in the audience would gladly have thrown him a ticker tape parade. People couldn’t wait to get their hands on it, nearly upstaging a young kid’s presentation of the Google Glass.

What Touchcast ushers in is a new way of using the web where video is the canvas and all interactivity (ala Minority Report, I repeat) happens inside using what it calls Vapps—or video apps. They are active HTML objects inside videos.
A video shows how each TouchCast can contain web pages, documents, videos, pictures and interactive regions, bringing the world of video and web together.

This is going to create a new mode of interaction that is going to change not only how people view video, but how they view the web. For those waiting for the promise of The Jetsons, it looks like it’s going to happen, after all.

As the Touchcast people would say, “The web is about to graduate from a massive, stagnant magazine to a vibrant, engaging, conversational and more video-like medium: the video web.” You can download it now on the iPad.

The other presenters of the day were Narratively and CameraTag.

Where online publications these days choose to inundate us with stories, Narratively is presenting something almost unheard of: one story a day about a city.

Launched last September 2012, presenters Emon Hassan, Director of Video and Noah Rosenberg, CEO/co-founder, said Narratively is their way of slowing things down. “We don’t care about breaking news or the next big headline; we’re devoted exclusively to sharing a city’s rich, untold stories using an approach we call ‘slow journalism’.”

Narratively, named one of TIME’s “50 Best Websites of 2013,” is a platform devoted to original and in-depth stories about New York and other cities. It has a platform for shorter content called Narratively Shorts. There, you’ll find original short stories with behind-the-scenes interviews with contributors and subjects. They also post observations and reflections on the state of media and storytelling.

So if they’re presenting us with only one story a day, how are they going to keep our interest? They said they have a stable of writers, editors, photographers, artists, designers and filmmakers who have worked for top media outlets like the New York Times, New York magazine, CNN, NPR, MediaStorm, the New Yorker and the BBC.
Narratively could work with CameraTag. Founder Chris Danzig said even with advancements in HTML5, there is still no simple way to collect videos from your users.

With one line of code on CameraTag, Danzig said you can now easily start collecting videos for applications ranging from video comments to talent competitions, political action, virtual interviews, talent scouting and more.

Following are some of its features:
• HD webcam recording. Capture videos from your users’ webcams at resolutions up to 720p.
• Desktop uploads. Allow users to upload videos from their hard drive without worrying about strange formats or codecs, as it ingests and transcodes whatever you’ve got.
• Record by phone. Enable users to record directly from their mobile device to their desktop browser (without any app or plugin downloads).
• Record on-the-go. Record videos directly from the browser of most popular mobile devices (iOS 6+, Android 2.2+).
• 100% customizable interface. All HTML interface is 100% customizable.
As special guest, Kelly Day, BlipTV CEO, talked about the future of the digital television network as it builds and expands its deep library of original content, multiple distribution platforms and creative advertising solutions.
“We’re positioning Blip as an online video destination and a collaborative partner for producers, advertisers and content partners,” she said.