The Youtube era has undoubtedly ushered in a new generation of storytellers. Timothy Rhys explores the vision of WeVideo, an affordable new cloud-based editing program, by speaking to CEO Jostein Svendsen — a man who believes his company is revolutionizing the way this generation will tell and share its stories.
While wandering around the San Jose International Short Film Festival last October I had the pleasure of meeting Jostein Svendsen, the ebullient CEO of the new online video creation platform, WeVideo. Svendsen immediately captured me with his mission to integrate the tools of editing into our everyday lives, with an evangelically powerful focus that all true believers share. He is energized to preach the WeVideo gospel because, like all evangelists, he is absolutely convinced that he is doing nothing short of changing the world. “A whole new generation is learning these skills while still in school— it’s becoming as important as writing,” Svendsen said. “This will dramatically change things because millions of kids will learn how to express themselves through the moving image.
“Just look at YouTube. Massive numbers of people are now fluent in the language of film. That’s why storytelling is soon going to be a crucial skill.” Presumably it’s also why the company recently partnered with the Center for Digital Storytelling (storycenter.org), an organization which connects with groups around the world to facilitate the storytelling process through a group dynamic. That goal is shared by WeVideo, the Palo Alto-based company which started in Norway as a learning tool for school kids “to give them a different perspective on reality TV,” Svendsen said. Above all, this CEO believes in accessibility, seeding what he hopes will soon be a critical mass of users by setting prices as low as $3/month so that anybody can get stared.
The company is beginning to “recruit hundreds of thousands of people per month,” Svendsen said, “because WeVideo is easier to use than iMovie but more powerful, and it runs on any platform. You can shoot 1080p hi-def on your Android or iPhone and you can collaborate with anyone around the world. It’s like Google Docs for video.”
Tim Street, a board member of the International Academy of Web Television, likes WeVideo’s potential. “From an independent content creation standpoint, it’s an invaluable tool. It allows you to create motion pictures with anyone who has an Internet connection. This means if you need a shot of Amsterdam from your LA base, you now have a world of possibilities.
“And from a work standpoint, if a client wants a tweak, you can do it on the fly. They can then look at it and make a tweak in real time. And you can just export it to Vimeo. The server doing the rendering is in the cloud so it can all be done very fast. With this tool, we can do things that weren’t possible through traditional media, but they are now through the power of collaboration.”
Svendsen has also recruited at least one major camera company. “WeVideo is now being bundled with some consumer cameras that are cloud-enabled, such as the ones from Sony,” (the Sony Handycam or Action Cam) said Svendsen.
“Today’s customer isn’t satisfied with capturing memories, they want to create sharable moments,” said Hidenori Toyoda, of Sony Electronics. “Sony’s integration with WeVideo helps make that possible.”
But Svendsen’s goals don’t end with consumers. Rather, he hopes that moviemakers will gradually be brought into the fold. “Right now we are coming at this ‘from below.’ When the volume [of users] increases, we’ll address the higher-end features. Someday, WeVideo may be the default even for high-end cameras. Our modest goal is to become the world’s most widely-used video creation platform.”
Producer David Traub (Jobs, The Bronx Bull), an expert on the evolution of digital education technologies who holds a master’s in education from Harvard, is excited about WeVideo’s potential not only for moviemakers, but for educators. “What I love about WeVideo is that this is a tool that can bring great social value. A Harvard study showed that when classic arguments are presented through video they are more apt to deeply engage students, who become emotionally invested. Basically, in the context of fun, people learn to a far greater degree. Not everybody is good at writing essays.”
“It wasn’t the agenda for WeVideo to do that,“ Svendsen said, “but obviously when you edit you are making a series of critical decisions, so it makes sense.”
In WeVideo, we have an alternative entry-level editing technology that lets people easily share their footage with others, and facilitates learning. As the father of a couple of budding moviemakers myself, that’s a product that sounds mighty interesting. It might even change the world. MM