Screen networks are always hungry for new content. Don’t feed them with new material, and you end up with stale networks. Feed them regularly, and you have the accounting team coming down the hallway asking about how to cut down on escalating creative costs.
For more than five years now, I’ve been noodling ideas – even taking some stabs at business plans and raising investor capital – for something that would cut down the cost and resource requirements of what I’d call everyday creative. But developing new software and everything associated with that is a big chore when you’re an independent consultant juggling a whole bunch of batons at once.
Then I saw something on a tech blog earlier this year, and a few weeks later, Spotomate started coming together. It’s soft-launching today, and over the next few weeks will get refined and enhanced.
The rapid-fire summary goes like this: A digital signage end-user or solutions provider can build very high quality HD video ad spots and messages for $75 or less, just by dragging and dropping images into a pop-up browser window, and typing in text in form fields. The rest is automated.
Spots. Automated. So … Spotomate!
Software companies and some solutions providers – even some creative shops – have had basic motion graphic templates available for some time. But they tend to be purposefully limited, so the manager at a bank branch can choose a pre-loaded image and type in a simple message.
Spotomate uses Adobe After Effects projects, tied to a cloud-based video rendering engine. So there’s no compromise on what a video might look like. Sort through the templates available so far on Spotomate and you’ll find $60 spots that wouldn’t look out of place on national TV broadcasts.
Here’s an example of something built in less than 10 minutes using a handful of .jpg image files and some very basic text inputs.
It’s my favorite, though it’s not up on the site yet (as I need to get it converted to English from Korean (more on that in a couple of paragraphs).
There are some other cloud-based video production tools out there, but where they tend to fall down is on creative quality. It’s a bit like the signage industry as a whole. People get so fixated on the technology they forget it’s what’s on the screen that matters.
Spotomate is a partnership with a South Korean start-up, Shakr Media. The company is primarily focused on the much bigger online video display market, and Spotomate provides the company with a portal for this industry.
Much of what’s on Shakr doesn’t fit signage, so I’ve carefully curated the good stuff, and also had new spots built I think fill some holes – for things like retail, restaurant features, education and corporate. So far, there are almost 40 templates on there – though many or most have multiple uses.
The kick-ass car ads, like the one above for example, can be kick-ass condo ads. Making the switch just takes a little creative thinking and different images.
Most of the spots carry audio, but only as supporting licensed background music. The ones that work as digital signage spots are fine running silently. There are templates available that can support inserted video, but I have left those out of the first release to keep things simple. Get people crawling and walking before Spotomate asks them to jog and run with more complicated editing and formats.
Here’s one I had built. It’s silent and simple and aimed at schools who want to celebrate top teachers, students or teams. The razzle-dazzle is minimal, and it is a spot that could be generated (if the pix are already organized) in less than five minutes.
Using Spotomate is easy:
1 – Browse templates and select one you like
2 – Build a video in a pop-up window online, dragging images into placeholders and filling in text fields. Spotomate steps users through the different scenes or sequences.
3 – When done, put in an email address and within a few minutes, a video proof is rendered in the cloud and a link for a preview drops in your inbox.
4 – If you like it, you click on Upgrade and buy the HD version – sans watermark – and get a download link for an HD MP4. If it needs tweaks, you can go back and edit V1.
Templates range in price from $30 (I know, crazy) to all of $75 on the high end.
Go ahead and try it out. It costs nothing to build watermarked proofs. And let me know what you think.