Viddsee delivers cinema-quality movies for Internet with the help of digital
VIDDSEE is bringing a short-form cinematic fare to the Internet as it looks to upend what the traditional video content for the digital age has to look like and introduce new opportunities for filmmakers across the region.
Digital video content is increasingly becoming the go-to medium for brands, businesses and companies across the world. Research house eMarketer has noted that expenditure on digital and mobile video advertising has increased 67 percent in the two years since 2015, while the world’s biggest published, Facebook, announced last year that the platform would begin pivoting to video.
They aren’t the only ones – content publishers all over the world are paying attention to the big boom in video. Mashable recently launched its own “pivot to video”, starting with huge layoffs and massive investments in video.
Evidently, there’s going to be – if there isn’t already – a dearth of video content for everyone to watch. So how does a Singaporean startup with a focus on short films compete with the billions of videos daily available on YouTube? According to founder Derek Tan, the secret sauce of Viddsee lies in its commitment to storytelling and a content-first philosophy.
Tan spoke to Tech Wire Asia at the recent All That Matters conference which took place in Singapore this past September, and relayed how he and his co-founder, Ho Jia Jian, founded their startup.
The two young men met when they were studying to be engineers in a Singaporean university but they discovered a mutual love for film. They would go on to join the university film club, and
“The university offered no film studies, but there were many like-minded people looking to do things around film—watch films, make films,” said Tan.
“A lot of the passion around filmmaking grew from there but coming out to the workforce changed it.”
Tan would later go on to work at StarHub where he helped build Internet TV platforms for large corporations and paid-TV type of businesses. That experience was one of the sparks that led to the creation of Viddsee, a huge online repository of short, independent films from across the region.
“It was interesting for us to have the experience as a technologist to build this huge platform for distributing content, while at the same time making independent stories,” he said. “You’re not sure how you get your stories out.
“Way before Viddsee started, we were looking at how we could leverage the huge scale of platforms like YouTube. You hear so much about how big their audiences are numbered in the billions, but we began to realize really quickly that you can’t just upload and film and then, tada! Distribution happens!”
Viddsee has made a name for itself as a purveyor of quality short-form content, which today has registered over a billion views. Tan said that the company takes a serious content-first approach to their business, and works closely with professional filmmakers and talents to produce the best possible independent content to be shared with a their diverse audiences.
“We weren’t trying to build another YouTube.”
“We weren’t building a user-generated content platform, but a community platform to share our stories with to build our audience.”
In the last year, the company began working with brands to help them tell their stories with high quality videos to market their businesses. The relationship is a logical one, where brands have communities they want to reach in mind, whereas Viddsee has the story tellers.
“If you think of brands as publishers, then you start to see a new kind of relationship start to happen,” Tan said. “The brands might have insights and the storytellers might have the stories, and you’re using the craft of storytelling to learn how to pull emotion in order to develop the story.”
By taking with a content-first approach, Viddsee ensured that their company produced not only some of the highest quality video around, but also an eclectic array of Asian stories. Tan noted most of the content that can be found on the Internet has a very Western focus, and that by bringing their local to the fore, Viddsee is playing an integral role in democratizing content for audiences in Asia.
“We were very conscious of building the heart of Viddsee, which is stories,” said Tan. “[Our platform] is very much about the curation of Asian stories. We were trying to build a platform for Asian stories that seemed to be missing and drowning in the democratization of content.”
What started out as a platform for showcasing short films eventually became Viddsee’s current iteration, that is a kind of studio that actively commissions work from some of the most exciting filmmakers out there today. It’s the logical extension for platforms that looks like Netflix, in the sense that they bring content direct to their audiences, on-demand. However, Viddsee isn’t quite a streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) platform, but has become both a supplier and distributor.
If you look back at Viddsee’s roots, it’s clear from the beginning Tan and Ho were creating the film syllabus they never had at university, and perhaps the syllabus that many across the region don’t have access to. The platform is acting as a kind of comprehensive library of the history of film and various styles that the Asian experience has cultivated.
Recently, they launched a partnership with Singapore’s Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) to curate a channel full of domestic offerings to showcase the best of the nation state’s talent.
“We go back to our passion filmmaking, curating stories, helping filmmakers perfect their craft,” Tan said. “As a filmmaker you want to get your stories out there. We found our roles as engineers in the film industry as enablers for these creators to get their stories out there.”
“Traditional film studios amplify one film a year. We amplify one film every day. That’s our role in the ecosystem.”
It’s not just the variety of films, it’s the quality of short-form video which Viddsee has championed that has really turned heads. Tan emphasized the fact that his and Ho’s goal was to bring a “cinematic feel to these local films”. They’ve turned the idea that short-form, Internet-based content will never quite achieve the standard of studio films. Short films don’t have to be cheap and they can make you fall in love as easily as any cinema fare can.
“People fall in love with cinema, with the image, the story, the sound. Digital is here to stay, and I think we’re trying to create that similar experience. Digital is not just Youtube, it doesn’t have to be cheap, it doesn’t have to be skits.”