Pixorial allows users to upload, edit, and share their videos from VHS, Beta Max, Hi-8, and other analog sources as well as standard digital files. The uploading process for analog formats does require users to mail in "primary documents," i.e., the physical tapes themselves, for conversion. And HD downloads might not be the free-for-all that users experience on other, all-digital sites.Startup video service
Still, for the ability to digitize old home movies without any constraints on file length and edit and combine those files once they're online, we think Pixorial deserves the attention of any users with memories on tape to save and share.
The Big Idea
Pixorial is the brain child of former Netscape and Oracle executives. The team launched in private beta in January 2009.
"Like so many people, my family had boxes of VHS, Hi-8, and beta tapes full of memories; and there was no simple way of playing, let alone of sharing, those memories with others," said CEO and founder Andrés Espiñeira. By allowing users secure storage of those memories in Pixorial's cloud of redundant servers, Espiñeira found a way to increase the ease and decrease the costs and resources for digitizing and sharing those video files in a modern fashion.
From a marketing perspective, too, Pixorial works. "The personal media and scrapbooking industries have boomed alongside web video and social media," said co-founder Gina Miccio.
"Pixorial brings all those components together into something that early adopters and baby boomers will love."
The User Experience
Accounts operate on a freemium model with free accounts allowing for 10GB of uploads and 60 days of archived analog video and pro accounts that give users unlimited uploads and storage.
Linking and embedding videos created on the Pixorial site is free, as is sharing them on Facebook. But downloading your own copy will cost you around $2 per video, and DVDs run the gamut from around $6 per disc for bulk orders to around $15 each for "glamour" DVDs.
Users can expect a 3-day maximum turnaround time for physical media to be converted.
Once media is uploaded, said company rep Melissa Hourigan in an email yesterday, "Scenes are determined by the creator. You can also tag portions of the video with metadata. You can mash scenes from different formats and different users." These "scenes," or clips, can be created from masters and edited by anyone the user shares them with, as well.
And when users collaborate, they grant one another access to full-resolution videos. "When someone mixes your video with theirs and creates a DVD, they're getting the highest quality possible," said Espiñeira, giving an example of a soccer league wanting to create an overview of their season using footage from different parents of players.
Customizable media players are not available right now, but pro users will get larger player sizes for their videos. Espiñeira also revealed that allowing users to create video scrapbook-type websites, similar to the offering from Fliggo, has been discussed as a distant destination in Pixorial's roadmap.
Editing features currently include the ability to designate, split, and trim video segments in Pixorial's Scene Maker product and to add separate scenes, titles, and transitions into a single video in their Producer application. Effects are coming soon, as are more features to add stills and audio to the mix. Here's a look at the editor as it stands - simple, with a user-friendly interface and streamlined features:
Or you can watch the magic in action here:
Finally, here's an example of the finished product, showing titles and transitions to great effect:
Security Versus Discoverability
In general, said Espiñeira via phone yesterday, Pixorial's demographic is an older, more private crowd who want to share their family memories with a select few, a far cry from the hoards of early-adopting Google whores who want their every waking move to be indexed and searchable.
"We take huge pains with security, and we take privacy very seriously," he said.
"The way we've architected the system, you need to be an owner or to be granted access before you can see the videos at all, and you have to be logged in. And only a handful of employees in the company handle the hard copies of media content. The rest of the time it's here, it's in a locked cabinet. The developers don't have access to any of the media."
Needless to say, then, social profiles and video channels are not part of Pixorial's current plan, but ensuring that their servers and users' data remain virtually unhackable is high on the list of priorities.