In February, HomeMovie.com announced a partnership with WeddingChannel.com "where we're promoting our network of professional videographer partners through a series of articles and banner ads," says Lars Crumme, CTO of HomeMovie.com. Silver and Gold-level customers will also receive a free studio listing in the WeddingChannel.com's local videographer directory, which otherwise costs $900. The WeddingChannel.com boasts over 800,000 registered users—and potential customers.
HomeMovie.com is an online service that provides a way for consumers to preserve, manage, and distribute their old home movies before they fade away to static on antiquated tapes. "We initially started our business to bring the benefits of our services to people for their home movies," says John Larsen, HomeMovie.com's CEO. But they discovered quickly that the consumer market wasn't a particularly good fit for their services. "They weren't really ready for streaming or DVD."
So Larsen and Crumme looked elsewhere for an audience that had a more vested interest in staying on top of the latest technologies. "When we first started with DVD five years ago, videographers were new to it, but we saw that they could be a great test market for our product," says Larsen. HomeMovie.com became an even bigger player in the videographer DVD production space when it acquired Moore Digital's wedding and event videography unit in 2003.
Today, HomeMovie.com offers the ability to create customized DVDs from 100 different menu templates, complete with illustrated packaging--all from within Java-based interface. Their videographer customers, dubbed Professional Partners, send in their completed videos on tape. The video is then imported, transcoded, and made available via HomeMovie.com's Afiniti player. "Once they've gotten into the system," Crumme says, "it takes 15-20 minutes to create a DVD." Complete with chapters and interactive menus, a master DVD costs $35 per disc. Additional fully packaged copies of the same project go for $15.
"From a videographer's perspective, there are two things they want from us," says Larsen. First is "labor-saving" on the production end: "They want the hassle of creating a DVD taken out." More important is the delivery engine: "Sure, they can produce a DVD themselves," Larsen explains. "But they can't produce one that then would be automatically streamed onto the Internet from a secure server."
One of the most important components of HomeMovie.com's services is its StreamingDVD format. "StreamingDVD exactly duplicates the DVD they'll get," says Larsen--but it does so over the Internet via streaming media. "When we looked at how we were going to allow people to share video online, it seemed like they'd want to do it the same way they use a DVD. We believe that the DVD is the driving technology behind how people will want to watch video."
HomeMovie.com will stream all of a videographer's DVD productions for 30 days with a $19.99-a-month Silver Partnership level and for a year with a $39.99-a-month Gold Partnership. Silver allows for the streaming of a two-hour demo reel at 150Kbps with a frame size of 320x240 from a videographer's HomeMovie.com listing as well as their from their free WeddingChannel.com listing. The Gold partnership ups the bandwidth allocation to 250Kbps, and a DVD-sized 4:3 frame of 640x480.
For lower-bandwidth clients, Gold partner videographers can still elect to deliver selected content at 150Kbps. To stream content from HomeMovie.com at either bitrate, end users must be running Windows PCs with Internet Explorer 5.0+ or Netscape 7.1+, and Windows Media Player 7.1+. The Afiniti player will also run on Macs with OS X and a comparable browser and WMV support. All HomeMovie.com content is delivered via streaming; unlike some other consumer video hosting sites, the service does not use any progressive downloading to deliver video.
"Videographers are out there trying to figure out what are the best tools for reaching their customers," says Larsen. "We've found that this StreamingDVD allows them to get out there and market their services in ways they couldn't have otherwise." Some of this has to do with the dynamic monitoring capabilities of streaming media. "We're able to track usage of individual chapters within a StreamingDVD," Larsen explains. "Every two weeks we send out an email to all of our videographers so that they can also see what parts of their video is the most interesting to their audience."
Despite their initial trouble establishing a consumer audience, HomeMovie.com is hoping to capitalize on its event videography business as a springboard into that larger customer base. "We're providing every bride in America a free 30-day StreamingDVD of their wedding," says Larsen. "We figured that for brides, their wedding's probably the first event that they may have on tape. We want to develop relationships with these people by allowing them to come in and interact with the system."
Another interesting HomeMovie.com undertaking that will soon offer opportunities to videographers is its streaming videos-to-troops project. The company is currently working on expanding the project by inviting videographers to sign up on HomeMovie.com to help families that don't have cameras participate in the project. "By signing up, what they're offering is to make themselves available for someone to come to their studio and do a 30-minute shoot," says Crumme. The families can then mail those tapes in to HomeMovie.com so that their loved ones overseas can watch a professionally produced, streamed slice of home from their outpost on the battlefield. (See related story: http://www.streamingmedia.com/article.asp?id=9037.)