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My thoughts on Viddy

A few weeks back I downloaded Viddy and played with it a bit. At the time, I tweeted that I thought it was cool with a couple of caveats and that I would follow up with more details. Well, after playing with it a couple of more days, the cons started to outweigh the pros pretty quickly. Given the amount of hype Viddy received and continues to get, I didn’t want to hate on it for a few (what seemed to be) minor bugs so I decided to hold off on writing anything further until a software update or two came out. During the last few weeks though, my opinion of Viddy went from “It’s pretty cool,” to “It kinda sucks.”

If you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, check out this slideshow for an explanation of what Viddy is and how it works:

If the embedded presentation doesn’t load, click to seeViddy Screenshot Slideshow at Google Docs.

Seems nice, don’t it? There’s a sample video of all the filters at the end of this but first, my thoughts on Viddy after a few weeks of real world use.

The coolest thing about Viddy by far is that it’s free. Since it doesn’t cost you anything but time to try it out, you may as well if you think it’s something you might enjoy. I really like the filter effects, which Viddy refers to as production packs. Originally, there were six production packs. Software updates (the version referenced here is 1.2.0) added three more for a total of nine as seen in the video below.

I love that Viddy lets you pick any video from your camera roll or photo album and trim 15 seconds from it to share. That’s an essential feature for this kind of app. The reason is, let’s say you’re at a high school graduation. You’ve been recording for two hours, waiting for that key moment when as the valedictorian approaches the podium to receive their award, they trip over their gown, bust their ass, fall off the stage, land on the fucking color guard and scream, “YABBA DABBA DOO,” as they’re impaled in the rectum by a flag pole. That’s the key moment you’ll want to share because everyone else will have seen Pomp and Circumstance. The sharing is where Viddy falls short.

When you share your video, it goes to your Viddy feed, but I’ll come back to that. You also have the option of sharing your video via some of the most popular social networks. Foursquare and Tumblr support is “coming soon,” and I haven’t tried sharing via Facebook, so I don’t know if it works. Sharing via YouTube sure as hell doesn’t. I tried to share videos through YouTube repeatedly, but kept getting this authentication error, even though my login info is configured correctly:

Viddy YouTube error screenshot

Twitter sharing works, but with some limitations. Unlike other media sharing apps that let you write a specific tweet, Viddy limits you to a boilerplate tweet that reads:

I just filmed a video “VIDEO_NAME” @ LOCATION on #viddy SHORT_URL

You can specify the name of the video and the location, the URL to the video is generated by Viddy automatically. In my experience with Viddy, you can’t include a # or @ in the name of the video, so two of the biggest ways for people to find your content on Twitter aren’t options for Viddy users.

Viddy’s own hosting service is practically useless. When you first run the app, you set up a profile/feed with Viddy where your videos will be hosted. Other Viddy users can follow your feed and see your videos, but they’re the only ones who can do so. Right now, Viddy is only available for iOS devices, so a large chunk of the people you may want to share your video with are left out because…

There is no feed or profile URL for you to provide to non-Viddy users to see your videos. In my experience, there is also no way to get the URL of any individual video you have shared, unless you also chose to Tweet it out when you shared it. You then have to get the URL from your Twitter timeline. If you’re not on Twitter, I have no idea where this leaves you. Facebook, maybe, but like I said above, I haven’t tried it. If you have, feel free to add your thoughts and observations.

However, the other thing that Viddy gets right is once you have shared your video, a copy of what you shared, Production Packs applied and all, is added to your camera roll, and your original file is unchanged. This is another feature that I love. That’s how I was able to cut all the sample clips in the video below together and upload them to YouTube. The three heartbreaking drawbacks are the 15 second limit on the processed clips; while Viddy accepts 1280×720 HD videos as input, the processed files are 480×270; lastly, you can’t use your own music with the Production Packs.

The limitations on the processed clips are there presumably to save bandwidth because Viddy was built around the sharing/social networking paradigm, but that aspect of the app is by far the weakest. As a video sharing site/social network, Viddy is pretty insular, and there are far more developed and robust options out there for sharing video. I don’t know what their business model is, but I think Viddy would be best served by abandoning the social networking side of things. There is no reason to pour resources into fixing something for a market that is better served by existing products.

The Production Packs are where Viddy excels. If this were a demo app, I would be sold. I’m willing to pay $4.99 to output 1280×720 video, choose my own music, have the only limitation on length be the available space on my device, and output to my camera roll. I don’t need to be able to share the video anywhere else from within Viddy, because once it’s on my camera roll, I can do whatever the hell I want with it. Speaking of which, the purchase price should include a license providing for commercial use with a credit (i.e. “Retro Production Pack by Viddy”). Another viable pricing option would be to give the app away as I describe it for free and charge a nominal fee, say 49 cents, for additional Production Packs.

My opinion of Viddy might seem harsh, especially because it’s free, but there’s been a lot of hype around this app, and I think a reality check is in order. Viddy does some things great, but the things it gets the most hype for are actually what it does poorest. I outlined above what I’d be willing to pay for and how much. For free, if you can grab it and like playing around with videos, get it. You could make a movie comprised of shots of 15 seconds or less and cut them together if you really wanted to make a longer piece. If you already use Viddy, please share your experiences. Feel free to follow my Viddy feed also at lowereastsmile

Though you can adjust the intensity of the video filter and the volume of the music in Viddy, I left the settings at the defaults on the clips in the video below.

If the embedded video doesn’t load, click to watch
Viddy Production Pack Sample Reel at YouTube.

Viddy Home Page

Viddy at iTunes

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