FlipTrack: A More Sophisticated Slide Show Tool

FlipTrack launched a product with a unique approach to online slide show creation tonight and I think it could catch on fairly well. It’s a desktop application that combines an interface that looks like Garage Band or Audacity with song lyrics and an image placement tool for users who want more control over their online photo sharing production.

FlipTrack is a division of iPlayMusic, a company that sells Mac guitar tutorial software. That company was founded in 2005 by Stewart Putney and Quincy Carroll. It’s taken a half million dollars in angel funding. You could look at that as a half million dollars invested in MySpace music video slide shows, or you could look at this as one of the media sharing tools of the future in a world where media production has almost no barrier to entry.

The standard practice of setting photos to music in most services starts by determining the order that photos will be shown and then laying a song over the top of the display. FlipTrack users select a song, then see the beat and lyrics displayed in a time line, drag and drop their photos in order and chose between transitions.

FlipTrack has licensed a music library from the karaoke service Sound Choice; options range from Bob Marley’s Buffalo Soldier to Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger to Scooby Doo, Where Are You? and What A Friend We Have In Jesus. Users may not upload their own music. You have to select from the list of about 100 songs but there is a request field to have a song added. As you can see from the screen shot below, lyrics appear above the representation of each song’s beat. At least the company has licensed some popular songs, some similar companies provide nothing but elevator music to choose from.

If you’d like to see an example of a video made with FlipTrack, and you can tolerate the insufferable song “Stroke Me,” the company recommended this video to me.

http://www.fliptrack.com/v/8tztEfwHejStrangely, FlipTrack claims to have a patent on displaying music as words and beats instead of waveform, whatever that means. It could be something to remember for the future, it doesn’t sound good to me.

FlipTrack is currently a Windows only desktop client, but is working on a web based version. The limited song choice may need to expand in order for users to really take to the service, but I think it’s got just the right mix of user freedom and restrictive simplicity to gain mass market acceptance. There is some potential here to create some very nice looking slide shows.

Related services include OneTrueMedia, SplashCast, FilmLoop and any number of others. OneTrueMedia seems to me to overlap with FlipTrack quite a bit, but there’s something more serious about the ethos of FlipTrack’s creation tool. I think the potential customer base is large enough that many of these companies could be reasonably viable.

Slide show creation tool Slide.com announced today that it’s raised another round of funding, estimated at $8 million from Mayfield and Khosla, bringing that company to a total of about $20 million in funding. Though Slide was founded by one of the creators of PayPal and Yelp, the technology it’s offering now is less interesting than FlipTrack. Winners and losers in this market will be determined as much by distribution channel, monetization strategies, customer service and luck as by technology.