TC50 Movie Search Startup AnyClip Launches, Without Many Clips

When movie clip search startup AnyClip demoed at last year’s TechCrunch50, it was one of the crowd pleasers. The concept was to be able to search for any line or scene in a movie, and the site would take you to that exact moment and play the clip. The demo looked great, but could the startup actually get the movie studios to license their films? Sean Parker, one of the judges on the panel noted: “This is the kind of thing that absolutely should happen. But it will take you twice as long to make those deals.”

Parker turned out to be right. AnyClip continues to negotiate with the studios, but decided not to wait for those deals to open up its service. Yesterday, it launched in a public beta, without many actual video clips. There are some older and public domain movies, licensed from the Film Chest catalog, such as the classic Reefer Madness. Search for “faster, faster” and up comes the piano scene from Reefer Madness.

But AnyClip works even for movies where it cannot show the clips. Search for “I drink your milkshake” and the dialogue from the scene in There Will Be Blood comes up as a result. Or you can search for “ferris wheel” scenes, where a ferris wheel appears in the scene but is not necessarily mentioned in the dialogue.

AnyClip has indexed 2,000 movies so far. CEO Aaron Cohen estimates that “two percent of all searches appear to be for 8,000 Hollywood films and 1,000 actors.” Creating really deep meta data around movie clips and exposing those to search engines should be enough to get traffic growing simply as movie quotes database. But the ultimate appeal of AnyClip is the ability to start playing the movie clip at the exact moment you are looking for and share those clips. It’s going to happen. Rival, which launched in December, has already struck licensing deals for 12,000 clips. Those are predetermined clips, however. AnyClip still wants to provide data on, literally, any clip.

At the same time, the movie studios are paying companies to index their digital archives for their own internal purposes. Cohen is hoping to do a trade: give them the metadata on their catalogs for free in return for the ability to promote their films. Maybe if AnyClip gets big enough, they will start paying attention.