iPhone Video App Collabracam Makes a Case for Co-Creation

If social media today means sharing, what is media co-creation?

Really social media?

That’s the premise behind Collabracam, an app for Apple iOS that is attempting to offer a new way to create video collaboratively, in real time by using the iPhone as both the directing and recording platform.

To understand how Collabracam works, it’s useful to think of the traditional television production experience the app tries to recreate.

In a TV studio, a director stares at a bank of screens in one room, while talking through headsets to multiple camera operators in the studio. The director then gives orders to the camera operators, such as “pan right” or “zoom in,” and finally cuts between the various cameras.

Similarly, using Collabracam, up to five people sharing a WiFi connection can use their iPhones to become director and camera-persons for an instant video studio.

One iPhone in the group is designated “director” and the others are “cameras.” The cameras stream live video to the director, who makes the decisions about camera switching and shot selection.

The app then spits out a single movie file on the director’s iPhone with the cuts that were selected during filming.

The idea man behind Collabracam is Kyle Hilla, a designer based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He’s the sole employee of Apptopus Inc., the company that officially makes the app.

The inspiration for the app came from Hilla’s previous work at a community TV station.

“I was hauling around hundreds of feet of big, heavy cables,” he said. “I knew there had to be a better way.”

This kind of synchronous, multi-camera collaboration isn’t yet common in the app store.

But Hilla sees more on the horizon: “Bringing people together for social media creation is going to be the next big thing.”

And Hilla isn’t alone in his thinking.

Venture firms Sequoia Capital, Bain Capital and Silicon Valley Bank funded beleaguered app maker Color to the tune of $41 million, in an attempt to tackle similar questions.

And while Color has spent the last few months stabbing in the dark spaces of multi-user media and storytelling as well, Hilla explained that Collabracam is designed to be different.

“Collabracam is for deliberate creation — it’s not passive,” he said.

The team aspect of Collabracam’s user experience may hold part of the key to cracking the group-media creation nut.

But Collabracam has its barriers to adoption.

The app is useless without a group of users, of course. And users have to be able to think about recording video in parts and they have to work as a team.

Still, Hilla said some interesting use cases have popped up, giving some Brazilian videographers who used it as a pre-production tool to make a video storyboard before moving on to making the real thing with HD cameras as a good example.

That’s an outlying consumer audience, of course, but Hilla thinks it’s a good start — he chatted about this and more via Skype video from Michigan:

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