The latest entrant into the mobile video segment is Montaj, a new app launching next week that seeks to be a kind of “Instagram for Video.” Montaj was founded by Demir Gjokaj and Dan Long, a couple of New York-based entrepreneurs who had originally been focused on making a more engaging travel site. Key to that experience would be video, but they had to tackle the video problem first.
The idea behind Montaj is to make videos actually watchable and shareable. Not a new idea, and one that’s seen startups like Socialcam and Viddy already try to tackle. The problem is that video can’t be made good just by throwing a filter on it, like Instagram. Instead, there’s gotta be a bit of editing involved. More importantly, shots have to be bite-sized.
“What would it look like if we made movies like Hollywood?” Gjokaj told an audience in San Francisco this afternoon. He explained that over the past several decades, the shot duration for Hollywood movies has fallen from 11 seconds down to below five seconds over the last several years. Montaj seeks to emulate that. “Your audience wants you to shoot less and pick up the pace.”
Unlike startups that have come before it, Montaj forces you to break videos down into five-second clips, which can then be stitched together. Once you’ve either shot a bunch of short clips, or you’ve assembled short clips from videos already in your camera roll, the app lets you storyboard, select a song, and add a new filter. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can just say, “Screw it,” and shake your phone.
With each shake of a phone, Montaj brings up a new song, a new edit, and a new filter, according to Gjokaj. But what happens if you don’t like a clip order or a song or the clips the app has chosen for you? The app lets you change all that on the fly. You can trim clips, rearrange them, import new clips, change the song, or change the filter. Ta-da! The app does the work you don’t want to, and then you can refine videos as much as you want to.
Once a video is created, users can share it out on YouTube, and those videos are by default created as an unlisted video. Those videos can then be made public in the future. Those video links can then be shared through Facebook or Twitter, and they can also be downloaded to the user’s camera roll.
There is a little bit of a community aspect, with users able to view videos that their friends or other users create. But you’re not trapped in the Montaj community, as you can be in Socialcam or some of the other so-called video sharing apps. That’s because Montaj doesn’t host its own videos, but relies on YouTube for hosting.
What about monetization? Montaj isn’t monetizing any of the videos that users create now, but it plans to work with brands in the future. By licensing its technology, Montaj hopes to enable brands to work with customers who would presumably make awesome videos on the brand’s behalf.
Montaj will be launching on January 22 for devices that run iOS 6 — that includes the iPhone 3GS and above, as well as the iPad. The startup is working on an Android version, which it expects to launch in the second quarter.
For an example of what can be done with Montaj, check out the video below: