An startup called tumblecloud is launching the public beta test today for its easy way to create high-quality slideshows.
Founder and CEO Brian Andreas (an artist who also runs the boutique publishing house StoryPeople) describes the company’s “clouds” as a new form digital storytelling, but they’re probably easier to think of as multimedia slideshows. tumblecloud breaks the process down into three steps — grab, mix, and share. You can pull photos, music, and other media from your computer or from other online services; use a simple drag-and-drop interface to assemble everything into a presentation; then share it with other users.
When describing the service, Andreas puts a big emphasis on two aspects — collaboration and “true” multimedia. The collaboration can happen between individuals, where users work together on a single cloud, or share media with one another (one of the most striking clouds created during the private test period mixes photos of the Occupy movement taken by Jessica Lehrman and music by Gabrile Quin, who live on opposite sides of the Untied States). It’s also happening on a community level, because tumblecloud offers a library of Creative Commons-licensed media, which Andreas is hoping users will contribute to.
As for multimedia, Andreas notes that tumblecloud isn’t just about mixing photos and music, but also supports things like websites and PDFs. He contrasts that approach with what he calls more “video-oriented” services (he didn’t mention anyone in particular, but he may have been thinking about Animoto). The point, he says, isn’t just to create a slick-looking video, but rather to incorporate more media types and allow viewers to interact with the individual elements that into the presentations.
For now, tumblecloud is completely free. Andreas says he plans to add a marketplace for different media, which is one business model. The company might also start charging for extra storage or other services, or it might also make money by accepting sponsored content.