According to Jourdan Urbach, co-founder of social video startup Ocho, “There really isn’t anything out there that’s just a solid social video platform.”
That might come as a surprise to users of Vine, but Urbach argued that with its six-second, looping videos, Vine has really become a unique, specialized format, one that’s dominated by “high-end creators.” More broadly, he said that video is usually “shoehorned into existing platforms,” or the apps are more narrowly focused on things like combining music and videos.
So Ocho’s aim is to be a broad platform where users can easily create and share short, high-quality videos. After months of testing, the company is officially launching its iOS app today. (“Stay tuned” for Android, Urbach said.) It’s also announcing that it has raised $1.65 million in seed funding from investor/Dallas Mavericks owner/Shark Tank star Mark Cuban, as well as Bill Lohse’s Social Starts, Matt Brimer, and Jiawei Wang.
Urbach and his co-founder Jonathan Swerdlin gave me a demo of the app last week. For me, at least, the most noticeable features came after you’ve recorded a video. For one thing, while the videos are eight seconds long, you can actually use more than eight seconds of footage, then speed it up through Ocho’s timelapse feature — when that happens, rather than just speeding up the sound as well, Ocho will choose a representative eight seconds of audio to play underneath. (Instagram recently launched its own Hyperlapse feature.)
You can also add voiceover to the video afterwards, which could particularly useful if the sound on the footage itself is crap. And there are, of course, filters, but filters that Urbach said are “built for video” rather than simply brought over from the video world, so you can adjust them over the course of the footage.
Equally important, all of these tools are fast and easy to use — so you can improve your video without spending minutes at a time fiddling with it (though I guess you can fiddle for that long if you want to).
The app also offers a slick video consumption experience. There’s a newsfeed highlighting videos posted by people you follow, as well as a page showing noteworthy videos from across the network, but what’s particularly cool is the fact that you can turn your phone into widescreen mode and it’ll just autoplay the videos from your feed, in order. Swerdlin described this video play mode as something that combines “a lean back approach with the lean in way in which you use social media” — especially since you can take advantage of AirPlay to watch the videos on your Apple TV,
And yes, you can respond to videos, but only with videos, not with text comments (though you can use text to tag other users and include hashtags).
So … why eight seconds, rather than Vine’s six seconds or Instagram Video’s 15? Urbach said that it was “not arbitrarily chosen” and pointed to data that the average attention span is now eight seconds. And although the Ocho team seems pretty attached to that length (it’s baked into the app’s name, after all) Swerdlin said it’s also interested in exploring “what longer form content looks like” on the app.
Even limited to eight seconds, Ocho has attracted a big-name partners namely Vice Sports, which will share exclusive short-form content on the network.
Update: Apparently one of the partnerships mentioned in an earlier version of this post is not in fact closed.