Pundits like talking about how Snapchat is the future of media (plus video, plus augmented reality, plus the industry of your choice), and it’s attracted some big names to Discover, its section for news stories. Now a startup called Flyr aims to enable users to create similar-looking stories and post them wherever they want.
The company was founded by Hassan Uriostegui and Brett O’Brien, who previously worked together at Viddy (O’Brien was co-founder and CEO, while Uriostegui was director of computer graphics and engineering). O’Brien said their goal with Flyr is “democratizing the creation of video stories.”
Uriostegui added that while Discover is exciting, it’s mostly limited to big publishers. And while a story on Discover doesn’t exactly look like a slick TV news spot, it can still take hours to produce, in part because of the effects and graphics involved.
With Flyr, on the other hand, you can create a video story in minutes, as Uriostegui and O’Brien demonstrated for me. You create the individual cards of a story by entering the text and searching through a library of videos, pictures and GIFs. (Publishers can also connect their own YouTube accounts.) Then the Flyr app automatically generates graphics that match your content.
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The app isn’t just creating a simple video file, either, but rather a story in a unique Flyr format, which comes with a few benefits. For one thing, users can publish their stories without waiting for a video to render. They also can add links and other interactive elements. And they can use Flyr to create optimized versions of the story to be posted on other platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and, yes, Snapchat.
Flyr has even launched a number of its own channels (focused on topics like tech news and sports), partly to show off the capabilities of the platform. Now it’s also working to bring on large and small publishers — Entrepreneur has already signed on. For now, the app is meant to be a production tool and a way to browse stories, but Uriostegui said it will introduce more social features in the future.
I also wondered if this format might just seem like a gimmick in a few years, but Uriostegui responded, “Look at Facebook and Twitter — people love memes, but it goes deeper than that. The meme is very powerful. It transmits a cultural idea. I believe that this format can be like a new kind of language for people.”