Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

DreamWorks Incubates a Mobile Video Editing App Called Ptch

A team spun off from the studio behind “Shrek” and “Madagascar” wants to make the next Instagram.

DreamWorks Animation is incubating a new social photo and video app called Ptch, which is being independently built by DreamWorks CTO Ed Leonard and a small team he’s put together from inside and outside the studio.

Ptch has been under wraps until now, and is due in the U.S. next month, but I got a glimpse of it this week.

As might be expected in this day and age of so many mobile social content apps, Ptch is pretty well approximated by comparison to a few others: Instagram meets Viddy meets Animoto meets a mashup contest.

On Ptch, you plug in your photos and videos from your phone and elsewhere, add Facebook comments and tweets or your own captions, choose from a list of animated styles and muzak — and voila, you get an instant souped-up video slideshow of one minute or less.

Then you share the completed “Ptch” — pronounced as if it weren’t missing an “i” as the second letter — within the app or with people on other social networks.

Even with the DreamWorks connection and whatever star power and content hookups that the studio can provide, it will be hard for Ptch to stand out.

But on the merits, what Ptch does is pretty interesting: it creates these one-minute videos virtually instantly and impermanently.

That is, there’s no tedious rendering process where all the bits and pieces of content get virtually glued together. All the individual photos and videos can be reordered and edited after the fact. And then, as long as the original creator allows it, any other Ptch user can take those photos and videos and use them in their own projects. The app tracks the “genealogy” of each of these assets.

I’m told the company calls what it’s doing “living media.”

So for instance, at a concert, a band could release professional shots and backstage footage on Ptch, and audience members could mash up the official content with their own captures.

On that note, Ptch is currently being beta-tested in Canada at the NXNE music festival, so you can see a few public videos being posted from there on Twitter.

Leonard had been DreamWorks CTO for 11 years, and the Ptch project is said to be personally advised by DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. Ptch is now a separate company, but DreamWorks is the only source of funding.

Suffice to say, it’s less than the $145 million DreamWorks just spent on “Madagascar 3.”

The intersection of tech and entertainment expertise is particularly fertile right now, perhaps in part because hits-driven mobile apps seem to have a lot in common with the entertainment business. Coincidentally, Pixar CTO Oren Jacob is also working on a mobile start-up called ToyTalk.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald