Pop quiz! How much is spent on making Television shows in the U.S. annually? It’s $300 billion or there-abouts. That’s a lot of video. Petabytes of data and more. Next question! How are all those shows edited and produced? Well, it’s almost all put though big-ass editing suites and in-office servers from the likes of Avid. Lastly, how many tech startups have gone after this TV market? No, I’m not taking about Brightcove and your little video podcast. I mean one that goes after Avid and that TV industry. Answer: None. Why? It’s just very, very tough. But now one has.
Aframe, the SaaS/cloud video production platform which has been bubbling under in Europe since 2010, has today raised a new $7 million Series A round of funding led by Octopus Investments and Eden Ventures, with participation by existing investor, Northstar Ventures. This is a large Series A in European terms, but one which also sees Aframe launching into North America with operations in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles. Yes, folks, these guys are taking on the television production world with all guns blazing, already working with companies such as the BBC and MTV.
Eden have a track record of taking UK companies to the U.S. They brought in Matrix Partners to invest in Huddle in the U.S., for instance. The Series A round brings the total investment in the company to $10 million, including previous seed and angel investments from former executives at Endemol, Vodaphone and AMV BBDO, among others.
Aframe also named Mark Overington, part of the founding team at Avid Technology and its former head of marketing, as president of Aframe North America. It’s no small thing that a founder of Avid has become Aframe’s U.S. CEO. Overington grew the company from an idea to $500 million in revenues. If Avid wasn’t worried before, it probably needs to be now.
Aframe was co-founded by CEO David Peto, a former founder of a London post production facility. “Loads of people think we are like Brightcove, but we’re not. Our main competitors are companies like Avid ($800m turnover) – desktop/software/server farms installed into offices. We’re doing it out of the cloud for $99 a month,” he told me.
But Aframe isn’t just some startup working on Amazon S3. It’s built its own private cloud platform.
That means large broadcast-quality video – including uncompressed raw footage – can be uploaded, transcoded, images and shots logged/tagged virtually in real time, saving huge amounts of time in production.
What Salesforce, Dropbox and Huddle have done Aframe wants to do in video production. “If you imagine what Soundcloud has done for pro music, we’re doing that for video,” says Peto.
TV production is the last industry to be SAAS-ified and clouded. Files are 50-100GB or up to 500GB or more. There are 20 different camera formats, 5 different edit systems. Production teams can be producing content all over the place, and the only reason the cloud hasn’t arrived to this industry is because it’s very complicated where large video is concerned.
People who know video don’t understand the Cloud and people in the Cloud don’t understand TV, says Peto. “There are lots of small outfits looking at this but we’ve built our own cloud which goes against the thinking [Amazon S3 is the startup favourite]. But when you’re handling the original copies of a major new BBC series, that just doesn’t fly.”
Aframe can be used as as a free personal account, with professional accounts available starting at $99 a month per user, or an enterprise account at $249 a month per user.
Update: Double checking we see a couple of competitors in a similar-ish space (though still quite different) in Forbidden.co.uk from FORScene and FrameBlast, both also UK companies.