YesVideo has built a big business converting old home movies from tapes to the web. And with the second version of its mobile app, it is making it much easier to share those memories to social networks such as Instagram and Facebook.
Version 2.0 of the YesVideo iPhone app is now available for download on the Apple iTunes App Store.
“We take your personal memories and capture them,” said Michael Chang, chief executive of YesVideo, in an interview with VentureBeat. “We don’t want them to just gather dust.”
The app is meant to be easy to use. If you press your finger on a play icon, you can see previews of different segments. When you tap on a particular movie, you can then swipe side ways to see different chapters until you find what you want. When you find a key segment, you can mark it as a favorite with one touch. You can also share that segment of video via social networks with a single touch. You can turn a segment into an animated GIF and share that.
The company’s goal is not only to archive old family videos. It is to make them accessible, searchable, and shareable. Now you can turn them into “retrograms” and share them with friends and relatives. Once you find a video you want to share, you can touch a button called “snapshot” to share a still image from the video instantly. You can also put them through “fun filters” to add special effects. The 2.0 version of the app lets you view recently watch movies, view your favorites, browse all of your movies, and look at chapters in a movie index.
Chang said that one customer viewed about 300 chapters of video in a day. This kind of functionality is why more than 7 million YesVideo customers have stored more than 125 million minutes of video to date.
“It’s been exciting to watch it grow,” Chang said. “I’m excited about how this is transformative. You can take these old videos and make them part of your everyday life.”
With connected TVs, you’ll be able to watch your home movies on TV. Chang said that kind of functionality will be coming in a bigger way in 2014. You can already stream video from an iPhone via AirPlay to your Apple TV.
“Now that our customers are realizing how wonderful it is to have the video history of their lives in their pockets, they are demanding more mobile features,” said Chang. “We are answering that demand with the iPhone 2.0 version of the YesVideo app and by making it easy to create still photos out of videos and post ‘retro-grams’ to Instagram.”
This kind of functionality is a far cry away from the company’s original plans back in 1999, when it provided videos on DVDs. Chang and Andy Choi, the founders of the mobile ad network Greystripe, joined the company 18 months ago and invested their own money in the business. They started converting the old video to new formats such as the web.
Santa Clara, Calif.-based YesVideo has widened its distribution so you can drop off your movies in an old format at 34,000 retail locations, including Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Costco. Or you can order directly from YesVideo.com. YesVideo digitizes the footage and stores it online for free, forever. You can download the iPhone app to see those memories like your dad’s silly dance moves. Then you can manipulate the footage in a do-it-yourself fashion.
Right now, YesVideo can take VHS and Beta tapes, 8 millimeter film, Super8, Hi-8, Digital8, 16 millimeter film, mini disc, and mini DV. They convert it into web videos stored redundantly on Amazon Web Services. They divide those stored videos into chapters and index them. That makes them more searchable than normal videos. YesVideo can also convert full photo albums into digital form.
“How you find exactly what you want is one of the problems we address,” Chang said. “We also help you rediscover what you’ve lost.”
One of the people who converted her memories to YesVideo is Brook Lee, the former Miss Universe. She transferred videos of her old pageant days.
“YesVideo has let me regain beautiful memories of my friends and family,” said Lee, a Tech Ambassador for MommyLovesTech. “As someone who loves technology, I think it’s amazing that I can watch a video that’s over 15 years old online, and now I can even snap a photo and share it through Instagram. Re-living these moments – some of the best times of my life – has been such an emotional experience for me.”
Soccer star Brandi Chastain also uses YesVideo. Chastain, who was a member of the Olympic gold-medal-winning women’s soccer team and a World Cup winner, shared her own personal moments with YesVideo, including school plays, visits to Santa, and training with the USA Olympic soccer team. She made select video segments public to show how valuable it is to digitize old home movies.
On average, YesVideo customers spend 44 minutes in a viewing session, and share it with at least 10 others via Facebook or email. That’s much more engaging than other kinds of web media.
YesVideo has gift cards that customers can send to families and friends. It costs $12.99 to transfer one video tape to the web.
Meanwhile, YesVideo estimates that nearly a century of video memories are inaccessible because they are outmoded media. About 17 million are lost every year. About 1.5 billion old videos are sitting in 90 million U.S. homes collecting dust. Now you don’t need an old VCR or working film projector to watch them.
“You can just reach into your pocket,” Chang said.