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Switchcam Now Produces Broadcast-Quality Crowdsourced Music Concert Videos

Switchcam-logoTomorrow Switchcam's CEO and cofounder Brett Welch will join the SF MusicTech Summit's panel on Artist Tools. He gave me a tour on Friday of Switchcam's newest incarnation which has continued to evolve since winning Hacklolla back in 2011 as Veokami. Currently import and editing are free with output moving to a paid model but output to YouTube is available to indie artists for free up through SXSW and Miami Music Week.

This is the third in a series of posts that look at companies leveraging crowdsourced videos of events and offering ways to bring them together in an edited version with a single audio track. The first two, CrowdSync and Vyclone, leverage the increasing ubiquity of mobile devices with GPS and time data along with unique individual solutions to create mobile-first crowdsourced event videos.

Switchcam seems to be the originator of this concept though they've focused on the desktop and the open web. Emerging in 2011 as Veokami, one of Lollapalooza's HackLolla contestants, their initial product took live concert videos from YouTube, synced the videos with audio and then offered them as alternate camera angles from which the viewer could select.

The product was a bit dodgy at first but it was such a wild concept to me at the time that I continued to cover them when they rebranded as Switchcam last year and announced the impending launch of Switchcam for Artists. Of course, graduating from 500 Startups, getting over a million in funding from folks like Mark Cuban and participating in the first class of Turner Broadcasting's Media Camp helped ensure that they remained a project to watch.

Hollywood-undead-switchcam

Hollywood Undead on Switchcam

The above screengrab of a recent performance by Hollywood Undead, a rap act much hated on by hip hop bloggers back in the day, gives you a basic idea of the viewer experience which is quite similar to the basic concept pioneered by Veokami. Synced videos are presented as selectable options that offer different camera angles and the viewer can watch the default selection or pick and choose from specific songs and angles within the song.

You can check that out for yourself on the Switchcam homepage.

Though CEO and cofounder Brett Welch was likely quite busy preparing for the SF MusicTech Summit where he will join tomorrow's panel on Artist Tools, he was kind enough to give me a tour of the newest version of Switchcam's backend and workflow late last week.

If you're missing out on the SF MusicTech Summit, you can also check back for Switchcam-powered attendee documentation of the event.

A basic overview of features and workflow are available from the Switchcam tour page:

Switchcam-workflow

Switchcam Workflow

The basic concept is pretty simple. You set up a "shoot" for a "Music" or "General" event on the backend which, in the process, produces a web page where attendees who want to shoot and contribute footage, as well as those who just want to check it out later, can sign up. The SF MusicTech Summit page is an example.

Depending on their role, those who sign up get instructions for further participation and reminders to participate, upload their footage afterwards or simply check it out. Though individuals posting inappropriate footage can be banned, Switchcam has yet to see this problem emerge. However it is an example of an approach to development designed to support the real world needs of musicians and other users.

The camera crew can shoot with any device and all footage is uploaded via the web including many mobile browsers. Attendees who created footage but didn't sign up to participate can also be added at this stage. A native iOS app is in the works to facilitate mobile participation.

Artists have the option of uploading a soundboard recording or similar high-quality audio and syncing videos to that recording. Welch explained that digital signal processing allows them to sync the videos without relying on GPS or time data.

The final product is viewable on Switchcam's site and offers multiple viewing angles and basic interactivity. Though artists can output footage for YouTube or professional outlets, embeddable versions from Switchcam will follow at a later date.

Upcoming monetization plans include high-quality export to YouTube ($95) and to Final Cut Pro for broadcast production ($995). Export plans include emails from participants and followers.

Export to YouTube is currently free as part of a pilot program that will continue for indie artists up through SXSW and Miami Music Week. To take advantage of this offer, you'll need to first set up an account and a shoot, i.e. a scheduled event, and then contact Switchcam support.

Switchcam has reached the point of being able to output broadcast-quality video to Final Cut Pro and allow for combining crowdsourced and professional footage, in part, because they began with assembling YouTube footage. From the beginning they were developing complex algorithms without the benefit of mobile data.

Now Switchcam hosts all the video which allows for a big boost in quality control. Welch informed me that their audio syncing outperforms footage synced using Final Cut Pro even when the input is from a soundboard recording.

Their work with partners such as Switchcam investor Mark Cuban's AXS TV has also influenced their development and validated their approach. It sounds like they've been on quite a technical journey from the early days of Veokami and are now in public beta with their current features.

Artists Attending SXSW and Miami Music Week:
If you do take advantage of the free output to YouTube while at SXSW or Miami Music Week, please hit me up at the email below and I'll try to feature some videos here at Hypebot along with feedback on your Switchcam experience.

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Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/App.net) also blogs at All World Dance: Videos and maintains Music Biz Blogs. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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