Are you familiar with Stroome? I was introduced to the service this week, and I think they might be onto something. Stroome is a collaborative video editing service, where users can share clips or partial videos with friends and other members in order to get their help, and videos can be collectively edited by the community. Stroome calls the process "participatory video," and I think we're going to see more and more of it moving forward.
Stroome's desire is to make as much of the video creation process collaborative as possible. So if you're working on a clip, but can't get the cuts just right… you can toss it out to the community and ask for help. But it works the other way as well, with the Clip Pool–a living, breathing collection of shared snippets and video segments that any member is free to use in their own project.
Imagine if YouTube made it easy to grab, use, and edit another user's video, and you might have a good idea of what Stroome hopes to become. Here's their list of what Stroome can do for users:
- Stream content to the site so that it's immediately accessible to the community
- Grab clips from the largest collaborative, rights-cleared clip pool on the web
- Connect to other aspiring andestablished content providers, editors, and producers
- Edit and remix your content with your network of friends and colleagues in real time
- Publish those edits and remixes to all the popular social networks
I think Stroome has a lot of things going for them; here are just a few of them:
Collaboration Is Growing In Popularity.
Let's be clear about something right at the outset: collaborative video is never going to overtake traditional video. It's just not. We're human beings, after all, and not all of us can play well with others. But collaboration in online video is maturing at a rapid pace, and has already moved well past the "gimmick" phase.
Star Wars Uncut helped legitimize group video creation, leveraging the power of a huge base of Star Wars fans to create something entertaining and unique. Of course, the finished product, as much fun as it is, can't really be considered much more than an experiment… or an art project. But it's not going to win any Academy Awards.
Collaborative video, at that point, was interesting… fun… but not for professional video projects.
However, Life In A Day–YouTube's gambit with Ridley Scott and Kevin MacDonald–changed all that. Using the YouTube community, and the short films they made, Scott and MacDonald were able to craft a film that rivals the best documentary work around the world. It's seriously good, and it instantly took collaborative filmmaking from gimmick to legitimacy.
There is now plenty of evidence that collaborative video doesn't have to just be for goofy side projects. In the near future, we might very well see feature films or Fortune 500 advertisers leveraging the interests, talents, and voices of fans and consumers.
It's All About The Cloud
Stroome is hardly the only company that can say this, but their entire service is browser-based. There's no download required at all–not to edit clips, not to upload clips, and not to access the Clip Pool. Everything is done right in the browser, which is a huge convenience for users. Everything's moving toward "the cloud" these days, and Stroome is already there.
Free is always good. And, to be honest, if Stroome was charging a fee I would be pretty surprised—not to mention skeptical about their chances of survival. But thankfully, no. In the spirit of empowering users and igniting a community, Stroome is completely free.
It Solves Problems
The best products and services solve consumer needs or sooth consumer pains… and this is no different. Stroome will be used by people like the makers of Star Wars Uncut and Life In A Day–filmmakers with a grand vision, who craft entire projects around the notion of community creation.
But it will also be used by struggling amateur filmmakers who simply don't have the time, money, or resources to complete their video project on their own—it's going to help users create videos that otherwise wouldn't have been possible.
Other creators just need some assistance and guidance. The social aspects of Stroome allow for user-interaction, allowing friendships and mentor relationships to grow naturally.
What's Not So Good?
I'm still quite early in my experience with Stroome, but there are a few things I wish were different:
The Tagline. "Mix it up, mash it out." That phrase is used all over the site, and I have no idea what it means. I mean… I know "mix it up" is a casual reference to editing… but since when is "mash" slang for publishing? Or is that supposed to refer to the collaborative nature of Stroome (collaborations = "mashups")? It's not terrible, but its meaning isn't clear either.
The Name. Not crazy about Stroome as a name. It's taken from a Dutch word that means "to move freely," and I guess that's a nice sentiment. But the name means nothing to non-Dutch people (actually, it means nothing to Dutch people too, because the root word is actually "stromen"). I'm a bigger fan of tech company names that actually convey some measure of the product or service… like YouTube… or Facebook… or LinkedIn. But these things are subjective—there are plenty of great tech companies with gibberish names that haven't been hindered by it in the least on their road to success. So again, it's a tiny criticism.
The Explanation. I know I say this all the time, but I wish companies would take more care in crafting the copy on their website and in explaining their service/product in a way that all readers can understand. Too often, it feels like the copy was written specifically for tech-savvy people… or Silicon Valley insiders. And while Stroome's home page says it is a "collaborative video editing community," there's not a lot of explanation as to what that means. However, the video the company has on YouTube does a fantastic job explaining Stroome:
I guess I'm being pretty nit-picky with some of the above complaints, but I really just need more time to immerse myself in the service before I can truly speak about any shortcomings it might have.
Collaboration is a growing trend in online video, and should continue to grow for several years. Recent participatory video projects have really flexed the format's muscle, and silenced the critics who labeled it gimmicky or quaint. While collaboration isn't right for every project, it can be an extremely powerful way to combine resources and reach larger audiences. Stroome seems well-positioned to lead the charge in helping make collaborative video more accessible to the masses.
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