Explory is an exciting new app for your smartphone that makes it easy to tell rich, compelling stories: a studio in your pocket. Combine photos, video, text, and narration into great stories, without the time and effort of traditional video editing. The result is an interactive experience - viewers can simply watch, skip sections, or dive in to explore more. It’s great for sharing the stories of your life, and for business stories. Share your stories privately or on the social networks you already use. Stories are saved in the cloud and optimized for your device. Explory is in early testing right now. We’ve created this campaign to find early adopters who will give us the feedback to make the product fantastic and to raise funds toward launch. Please join us!
When we created Flash, it provided a fantastic opportunity for a wide range of developers to unleash their creativity on the web. Thousands of people learned this powerful tool and created the most amazing artwork, animations, and applications - and changed the whole experience of the web.
Today, it’s a whole new world - with smartphones, you have the potential for a complete digital studio in your pocket. Our mission is to create a new way for people to express themselves using the power of their smartphones, instead of a mouse and keyboard.
A New Vision
We are all enjoying this wonderful ride, as technology gives us new tools that connect us to the people and the world around us.
Just a few years ago, broad global communication required someone to have expensive video cameras, satellite trucks, video editing suites, television and recording studios, and a complete distribution channel. Now, with your smartphone and the Internet, you have technology in your pocket that replaces all of these things. You can capture, edit, and communicate the stories of your life around the world instantly. It’s amazing!
The hardware is available today, but the software does not yet fulfill the vision. It should be easy for everyone to create compelling, meaningful and durable stories with their phone, and instantly share them with one friend or a few million friends around the globe.
We’re thinking about all kinds of stories - including what makes your product or business great, how fun your vacation adventure was, a re-cap of a kid’s soccer tournament, how to change spark plugs, maker projects and creative storytelling that captures human personality and beliefs.
Anything that has a narrative sequence, and can be captured with photos, video, voice and text is a story. We are building the software to help you capture that media and add your thoughts and perspective with editing, text and narration - and instantly distribute it to everyone.
Exciting things are happening in media right now. It’s like déjà vu. We have seen these kinds of emerging opportunities before:
- We were among the first kids using Apple IIs to learn programming.
- We built some of the first computer games that used digitized sounds and a professional animator (Airborne, Dark Castle).
- We were building drawing software when Pagemaker and the laser printer replaced typesetting machines and made it possible for everyone to create high quality documents.
- We defined innovative 3D technology that became the standard for video games, special effects, and product design.
- We brought vector graphics, interactivity, multimedia, short form video, and casual games to the Internet with Flash.
We believe that the opportunity to build a tool for telling stories with your phone is as big and exciting as any of these advances. Experience tells us that the best way to create an amazing product is to listen to a community of users that believes in the vision, uses it, tests the limits, and then gives us feedback on where it needs to go.
Instagram or iMovie?
Today, when people want to share a story - something that’s happened to them or important to them - they probably turn to their social network and create a Facebook post, a Tweet, or post a photo to Instagram. This is good for quick updates, but not well suited for telling rich stories with depth and valuable detail.
On the other hand, when people really want to communicate a complete story that has structure and is meaningful, the primary option is to create a video using editing tools like iMovie and Premiere - which is a huge leap of commitment in time and effort to learn the software. And is it really worth spending the whole weekend creating this story? And with video, it’s really hard to do well. People have high expectations set by what they see on TV and in the movies. Creating a great video requires a seasoned understanding of pacing, transitions, audio mixing, and a lot more.
There are a number of apps that try to make video “easy”. They take your photos or video and automatically create a fast-paced video with a soundtrack using fancy transitions and effects to enhance the impact. You can get a flashy looking “music video”, but we think it’s hard to tell a compelling or deep story with this cookie-cutter kind of tool.
Both ends of the Instagram to iMovie spectrum work well for some uses, but we think there is an exciting space in between the two. A place where you can create a story with more depth and narrative than a quick photo with description, and doesn’t require the herculean effort of video editing. Enter Explory.
Making Storytelling Easier
Explory makes it easy for you to create a story, easy for you to share a story, and importantly, easy for viewers to have a great experience viewing your story.
1. Creating Stories
To create a story you simply organize and prioritize your photos and videos then add your thoughts and context with voice and text.
Smart Stories: We use time and location to automatically start you off with story ideas right from your camera roll - you just pick out the best elements and you’ve got the start of a story. Then add image captions, text slides, and voice narration. You can rearrange the order of your story and decide what are the most important parts, and what’s secondary. Or start with a blank canvas or your own structure and directly shoot stills and videos within the app to fill in your story.
Because you’re seamlessly mixing photos, audio, text and video in Explory, you don’t need to have a lot of perfect video shots to tell a good story - you can fill in any gaps with photos and narration.
Explory has a powerful feature called continuous publishing - share your story right away, while you continue to work on it, add to it, refine it, and make it better.
Since Explory is cloud-based, you can start your story on your phone and then move over to a tablet and continue to work on it. If you want to add content you have stored elsewhere, you’ll be able to continue working on your story in a desktop browser and pull content in from a digital camera or camcorder, your hard-drive libraries, or your favorite photo storage service.
2. Sharing Stories
When you decide to share your story, Explory will store it at high quality in the cloud, and deliver it to your friends or customers optimized for viewing on their device - whether it’s a phone, tablet, or computer.
You can easily post to Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, or use email and text messaging to share it. You can also embed the story directly into your blog or website.
You will also be able to work collaboratively in Explory. For example, if you all attended an event, you can pull together a master story using everyone’s content.
You have the choice of keeping a story private, or making it public. Share your story with the world - and discover other great stories - in our public story gallery.
3. Viewing Stories
This is where it gets even more exciting. One of the biggest innovations is that your story is not a linear video - it’s an interactive experience. Explory has a natural, touch interface. So when you’re watching a story, if there’s something you want to skip past, just swipe it off and move on to the next part. Or if something catches your eye and you want to dig deeper into one area of the story, you can choose to explore additional content. The viewer has control - you can have a “sit back” experience like watching television, or have it be more interactive, like gracefully surfing a multimedia website - it up to you.
Giving the viewer control makes them part of the editing process. They get a great customized experience that’s just the right length and depth for them, and you didn’t have to spend hours trying to get the perfect edit.
We are creating a powerful product that we believe people will value. Now everyone can share their creativity, knowledge and experiences through photos, video, voice and text, without getting bogged down by a difficult editing process. We believe people will appreciate the value of a high-quality story that they easily create and stream from the cloud - and be happy to pay for that service. The App itself will be free, and include a limited amount of cloud storage, and more storage will have a cost. So, the service won't be free, but it also won't be compressed and crummy-looking, or limited to a 6 second video loop.
We are not focused on building a social network or a platform to sell advertising - we want to be responsive to the needs of the creative people using our product, not to corporate advertisers or investors. It’s something of an old-fashioned model in today’s mobile world, but we believe that if we build a powerful and useful tool, people will vote with their dollars.
We Need Help
We are running this campaign because we need your help to achieve our vision. We need both feedback and funding.
Feedback: We have learned that writing the code and building a tool is just a part of the process of creating an amazing product. We’re great at understanding the fundamental patterns that make a useful tool, but it’s the users and community who make a product successful. You are the people who have something to say and something to gain by giving us the feedback we need to get the product right. You will tell the stories and create the community. Please join us to help define this new medium and show the world what is possible.
Funding: Building software and hosting video costs money. Despite enjoying successful careers, we don’t own yachts or airplanes - we have kids and mortgages. So we need funding to keep building the product while creating a few good jobs. We want to make sure we have the cash to pay for our hosting costs - we don’t want the experience of our earliest customers to be compromised because we didn’t have enough processing, bandwidth and storage lined-up during our launch. We also want to have a free version of the product, with some limited storage capacity, so a lot of people can try it out - and that will cost, too.
An idea of what it's like to view an Explory - Updated.
Stretch Goal: $500K for Android
Our funding target is the minimum we think we need to be able to get through the launch and get you a solid Version 1.0 product for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Our current plan is to keep working on this product and focus on Android later. If we’ve effectively communicated how exciting our vision is, and a lot of folks are supporting us, and we hit $500K, we’ll immediately start working on Android with the goal of a Fall 2013 delivery. Your cloud-based storage Storyteller account is device-independent, so the accounts in the rewards will work when the Android version is released.
The product is already super cool - you only see a few bits of it in the video because it's not finished and polished yet - we're working hard on that! We've been working for quite a while building the extensive core technology. We're at the early alpha stage as we launch this campaign. Our plan is to go into beta shortly after the end of this campaign and have a final product shipping this summer. Timing will depend on the feedback we get from our funders. If you say it's great, we'll ship; if it's needs more work, then we'll focus on that.
Who Are We?
Jonathan and Robert built "FutureSplash Animator" which was acquired by Macromedia and renamed Flash in the late 90's. Soon after, Gary, Peter S (engineering) and Peter G (business) joined them and helped grow Flash into the most distributed software on the planet. Most of the group stayed on for a while after the Adobe acquisition in 2005. Flash is the main project we all have in common, but each of us have worked on multiple highly successful products. If you would like more details, check out the links above to our LinkedIn profiles or read our bios at explory.com
Risks and challenges
There are a few risks to this project. The most important thing to know, is that we know what we're doing. We've worked on some of the most successful graphic software products ever created (winning all kinds of awards including Macworld, CNET, an Emmy, and even an Oscar for Technical Achievement).
1. Timing. It’s looking good for a beta soon after the campaign ends, but if we run into problems with our alpha, it could be a bit longer. We expect to be shipping a great Version 1.0 product a couple months after the beta, this summer, but depending on the feedback we get from you, that could be delayed.
2. Features. We can’t promise we’ll get every feature mentioned completed for Version 1.0. As is common in software development, there is the possibility that we might have to trim back some things and push them out to a future release. This is an app that will keep growing for years and we are super excited about building a deep product over time.
But, again, we've got a solid track record of getting products to market successfully - so, we're thinking it's a good bet.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Initially we will support an iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad running iOS 6 or later. Our plan is to support Android later, but that will depend on the availability of funding. With a single account, you will be able to run the application on all your mobile devices and you will automatically get access to the Android version when it becomes available.
The application itself will be free. You can use it to create and view stories at no cost on your device. If you want to share stories with others, or across devices, you will need to register for a free account. A free account will provide you with some cloud storage. When that is exceeded, storage plans will be available for purchase. Stories in a free account will be removed after 90 days, and you can use that space for new stories.
The Basic Storyteller account (pre-paid for one year) is ideal for a casual user who wants to create a new story every month or so. The Storyteller account is for users who want to share a lot of stories or have exceptionally large stories to tell. It will have 5X the storage of the Basic Storyteller account. We haven’t assigned specific megabyte numbers yet. We need to see how much storage people actually use - as a mix of audio, images, text and video it will vary quite a bit. As we learn the costs of hosting your stories and how people use the tool, we may increase the capacities of the accounts to ensure that everyone gets a great value. Accounts are device independent, so you can login to your account from as many devices as you have. These accounts are intended for personal use and for sharing stories with the community and will be priced based on how much cloud storage your stories use. Later, we will offer a commercial account which may include bandwidth pricing, for companies who want to support their products or business.
By default, your stories are Private and only viewable by you, or someone you have shared a private URL with. You can choose to make your story public within the app.
If you purchase a reward that includes a pre-paid one year storage account, it will start on the first day that you login to your account with the shipping Version 1.0 Explory application.
No! We are using standard web technologies and HTML5 for web playback.
We think the real difference is that we are providing a tool to tell a complete, connected story; a simple and fast way to transform a collection of visuals into an amazing, compelling narrative. There are also a host of specific features and technology that we know are important:
Interactivity allows viewers to explore a story instead of just sitting back and watching. Continuous publishing means your story can be shared as soon as you add your first photo. You can keep adding to and editing the story while people are viewing it. Most video tools require a time-consuming publish and encode step every time you want to share a change... we remember floppy disks, and we love the cloud! Photos, video, voice and text are integrated into one interactive story. Photos and text are not converted to video so you can zoom in and enjoy them on your high resolution screen. Structure allows you to include more content and value in your story. Share your extra shots by inserting them as detail objects. Many people will just look at the important elements, while those who are interested can drill down and explore all the details. It’s like the viewer is participating in the editing. This simplifies your editing process while offering the viewer a richer experience. Offline editing and viewing allows you to work anywhere without burning up expensive cellular bandwidth. Sync the story when you have Wi-Fi available, and then edit or view it offline while you are out exploring, on an airplane, etc. Sync again when you are back on a fast network. Camera integration means you can tell your story as you capture it. We are not a live blogging tool but we are very close. Not focused on effects. There are some great tools for filters, effects and transitions but we think your content is the most important thing and should be the focus of the viewer. We don’t want to distract from your content with filters and effects. We may add them someday, if you tell us you really need them
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