By Sahil Patel
For a long time, watching video content has been a pretty one-way experience. Whether it’s on a TV or on a mobile device, when it comes to the actual watching of the video, viewers aren’t used to having a choice beyond the usual playback and audio controls.
That viewer-screen relationship is what Storygami — a new British interactive video startup backed by Sir Richard Branson himself — wants to change. Founded by documentary filmmakers (and husband and wife team) Guy Gunaratne and Heidi Lindvall, Storygami offers a technology that would allow creators to insert interactive elements into their videos. With the HTML5-based authoring tool, producers can embed text, images, video clips, and a social stream into the video. When viewers watch the video, they would be able to access all of this additional information by clicking on the necessary interactive element (this would also pause the main video, allowing viewers to spend more time with each piece of content).
It’s a pretty nifty capability, which you can check out right now via “On the Line,” a new documentary series produced by Gunaratne and Lindvall’s documentary film company Codoc and enhanced with Storygami technology.
The series was commissioned by Virgin Media and follows Elephant Branded, a socially-conscious startup in the Virgin Media Pioneers program.
In fact, Gunaratne and Lindvall are also members of the Pioneers program, as its there where they developed the technology behind Storygami and eventually received backing from Sir Richard Branson. The Pioneers program is an incubator of sorts that allows entrepreneurs to work on their businesses and receive support from peers in the program as well as investors like Branson.
The first episode of “On the Line” debuted today, with others to roll out over the next several Mondays.
The duo behind Storygami are currently looking to partner with brands, media outlets, and educational organizations to see how they can use the Storygami tech to produce content. The startup is also actively seeking its first full round of funding, which would allow it to develop a self-service online authoring/editing tool for creators.
In-video interactivity isn’t entirely new to web video. Notably, former TechCrunch editor-in-chief Erick Schonfeld and two other co-founders recently launched TouchCast, a video/broadcasting app that also allows creators of all types (from media companies to vloggers) to shoot videos and embed interactive elements into them. TouchCast is available on the iPad and on the web right now, with plans to expand to a desktop app and other platforms in the future.
It’ll be interesting to see if this kind of technology sticks, or will be used mostly by those on the fringes. Habits can be hard to break sometimes, especially if it’s one that viewers have developed across several decades.
Below is a full list of tools/features available via Storygami, which I tried to copy and paste to the best of my ability.
TypeElementDescriptionTextInformation boxesInsert a simple box with text or links to external sitesPDF documentsLayer reports, case studies and presentations onto a video that can be opened in a separate tabLinked articlesPull in articles from all over the web which can be read within a videoInteractive astonsName tags can be clicked on to bring up more information about the person who is speakingImagesSingle imagesEmbed a single image within the video frame. Images can be uploaded or pulled in from sites such as FlickrPicture galleriesEmbed entire picture galleries within the video frame. Images can be uploaded or pulled in from sites such as FlickrExternal videoSingle videoBring YouTube or Vimeo content to play as a video-in-video elementVideo playlistsBring in entire playlists that can be watched within the video frameSocial mediaTwitter streamLayer a Twitter stream over the video and Tweet from within the video frameTwitter gamesUse embedded Twitter stream in tandem with the video content to ask questions of viewers and encourage interactionLocationGoogle MapsAccess Google Maps with drop pins from within the video frameDataPollsRun live polls within the video frame to collect feedback and display data resultsStatisticsIntegrate graphs and statistics as infographics in the videoMonitoringAnalyticsVideo owners can track viewer interactionSubscriptionSubscription tabsAdd a subscription tab so that viewers can subscribe to your blog or channel with one clickShare optionsEmbeddingShare the video with all its elements by easily embedding them to any pageSocial sharesAdd share buttons for social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook