VSCO, one of the few apps to give Facebook’s Instagram solid competition with a photo editing application aimed at more serious mobile photographers, is today releasing its next new creation. DSCO, as the just-launched spin-off is called, takes advantage of VSCO’s imaging technology to allow users to create short, looping GIF images which can be shared to VSCO’s user profiles as well as to other platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram.
The app is now one of several GIF-making utilities on the market, as a number of companies are seeking to take advantage of the popular format to grow their own user bases. Instagram, for example, just launched Boomerang which lets users create GIF-like video loops. Other apps in the space include Phhhoto (an inspiration for Boomerang); Giphy, which has both GIF-sharing and GIF creation tools; vhoto; GifLab; Giffiti; and others.
There are a few differences between DSCO’s app and those from others, in terms of how the GIFs are created. For instance, Instagram’s Boomerang produces 1-second loops comprised of a burst of photos. DSCO allows for 2.5 seconds of recording. It also shoots MP4 video, then turns that into a GIF.
The app also has a more elegant and refined look-and-feel, similar to the company’s main app, VSCO and one-screen user interface that takes you right to the viewfinder.
But VSCO’s competitive advantage and potential differentiator is really its community. VSCO is known as a creative platform where photographers share more high-quality work but don’t compete for likes and comments. That means the new DSCO app can tap into the existing user base to grow its footprint among pro’s and other serious shutterbugs who are already heavy users of the flagship app, while also attracting a mainstream user base thanks to its simple GIF creation and sharing tools.
At launch, the DSCO app (pronounced “disco”) includes an easy-to-use interface for shooting, editing and sharing GIFs and a handful of presets and not much more. Users will be able to choose from a selection of VSCO’s popular presets as well as those developed exclusively for DSCO from partners including MTV, Opening Ceremony, The Infatuation, LACMA, Shake Shack, Yours Truly, Hypebeast, Yourstruly and more.
At launch, however, there are 5 presets available, with the first branded preset from MTV. The other partners will be added in time, the company tells us.
Once created, the GIFs can be shared all over the web, including to top platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram, but they’ll mainly be published to VSCO itself – a feature that could impact the vibe the photography community has today. According to the company, GIFs will be visible on VSCO user profiles when shared back to the main app through DSCO.
CEO Joel Flory says the expansion is about broadening how the VSCO community can express itself. “We saw VSCO being used in unprecedented ways,” he says, “and we wanted to ignite that playfulness and originality.”
While some may associate GIFs with the very opposite of pro-level photography, thanks to their often pixelated and grainy look-and-feel, the DSCO app and its high-quality toolset could encourage a different type of GIF to emerge – one that’s more artistic and expressive, rather than meme-filled or goofy.
Support for GIFs could also help the company grow its North American audience where GIFs are hugely popular. Historically, the majority of VSCO’s users were located outside the U.S and that continues today. The VSCO user base is 83 percent international, though the company doesn’t disclose numbers or revenue. The main app, however, is in a Top 5 Grossing Photo app on both iOS and Android.
Founded in 2011, Oakland-headquartered VSCO is backed by $70 million in from Accel, Goldcrest Investments and others.
That funding is being put to use to launch a number of new apps following the debut of DSCO, we’re told. Though VSCO is light on the details, for now, the company says that DSCO is the first in “a series of new apps and offerings” planned for the coming months.
The DSCO app is live now on the App Store as a free download. An Android version is not yet available.