November 1, 2011
Instant video creator Shakr Media, one of the finalists at TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing, launched yesterday.
“We’re going to power video for the little guy – people that don’t have access to expensive video editing software or the appropriate training, like a local newspaper,” says founder David Lee, who is based in Korea.
Lee has a lot of plans for Shakr’s technology – starting with Shakr.com. Their service automatically picks the top articles from sites like the New York Times and AOL, pulls keywords using semantic analysis, and finds related images and video. It then uses WebGL to create 3D videos, with a text-to-speech service reading the article. This generates about 250 videos per day, which need only a half hour of curation to make sure the images match the topic.
“Our object is to create the world’s largest collection of news videos,” says the Canadian-born Lee, who has helped Shakr raise over $500,000 in seed funding.
Soon, they will also launch a builder for users to input articles, highlight keywords, and arrange media clips into a news video that will publish to Shakr Media. And they are partnering with the Tatter Media Network, a large Korean blogger syndicate, to turn their blog posts into videos.
Beyond the web, Lee eventually hopes to bring Shakr news videos to TVs. He thinks Samsung and LG need to offer content to compete with companies like Apple and Amazon, which sell devices and content, and he says he would be interested in partnering, licensing, or selling to them.
“We provide them with a way to automatically create content,” explains Lee. “We can become the default news for Samsung TV.” To this end, Shakr Media has applied for a patent for controlling your TV with your mobile phone using a swipe.
But Shakr Media isn’t just about news: Lee, a father himself, wants to see Koreans make family videos on Shakr. The Confucianist influence in Korea means that rituals abound – Lee did photo shoots with his baby at 50 days, 100 days, and 1 year, paying hundreds of dollars for photos and video. This could make the Korean market more ripe for video creation than the US market targeted by Shakr competitor Animoto. These videos would be free to view or share, but cost money to download. This service will launch in January.
Lee showed me some automatically generated videos, and the quality is moderate: although the text-to-speech still sounds like a robot, and some of the images aren’t the highest quality, many readers will find the experience more compelling than reading a news article. With so many possible applications, Shakr Media has an opportunity now to observe their users and figure out the best way to bring text to life.
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