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Why enhanced video will prove to be much more than a gimmick

12 Jul 2016

In October last year, we predicted that the world was about to enter a new era of user-generated media, where innovation would centre on two key areas: capturing and sharing. But a third area of innovation is set to rise and rise in importance, especially for video. This is the ability to enhance content.

The three “Ss” of social video enhancement

Innovation in enhanced video will be driven by advancements in some of the hottest – and most challenging – areas of technologies today. Developments will include “computer vision” to recognise what a camera is capturing; artificial intelligence to understand what captured video represents; and increasing mobile and cloud-computing power to enhance the output in real time. The most important practical applications of enhanced video can be summed up by the following three “Ss:”

  • Special effects: Examples include Instagram filters that make videos look like they were captured with classic cameras, Snapchat “lenses” that make users’ eyes bulge and their mouths vomit rainbows, and Facebook “masks” that transform people’s faces into those of popular characters and famous people. These innovations represent only the beginning of how video can be enhanced both during and after capture.
  • Storytelling: These tools enable users to assemble and edit photo and video footage into more coherent and compelling pieces of content, much like the editing suites used by TV and movie production companies do. As well as making video editing faster and easier by allowing full edits to be made on mobile devices and within social apps, these tools suggest how footage should be cut and augmented.
  • Subtitles: With up to 85% of Facebook videos reportedly being watched without sound, Facebook already offers automatic closed captioning to maximise viewing of ads posted to its platform. The next logical step for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Twitch, and others competing for the personal media–sharing crown would be to add this feature – along with local-language translation – to live-streamed video.

The business benefits of enhanced video

Offering the ability to enhance video will bring the following business benefits:

  • More content and better content: The phenomenal popularity of Instagram filters proves that people enjoy publishing personal media because it appeals to their creativity, rather than just their vanity. Platforms that provide powerful tools to make beautiful, funny, and thrilling media will be amply rewarded with such content, because for many people the act of creating is enjoyable in itself.
  • Better engaged creators and consumers: Platforms that make it quick, easy, and fun to create and watch content stand to benefit from a virtuous circle of engaging content, satisfied consumers, and motivated creators. Those that don’t invest might find that creators and therefore consumers find their services time-consuming or boring in comparison.
  • A balance between big media and little media: Facebook and YouTube are becoming more reliant on content from big media companies and professional consumer creators to secure traffic by the day. The challenge facing these companies is ensuring their platforms still allow ordinary consumers to share their stories too. Facebook regularly tweaks its algorithm to alter the balance of what appears in users’ feeds, most recently in favour of user-generated content. Enhancement tools can help effect a more fundamental change by driving the creation of more, better-quality personal media.
  • Excited movie fans: Facebook’s MSQRD technology harnesses the appeal of both mainstream and personal media by enabling users to don virtual masks of popular characters and celebrities such as the Joker, Harry Potter, Barack Obama, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Such features will help social networks, media companies, and brands alike to harness the passion of fans to drive usage of their products and services.
  • Fun advertising for consumers: With many consumers activating special software to block ads, Snapchat has pulled off a remarkable feat: convincing consumers to “star” in adverts. The social messaging provider enables brands to create lenses such as the one from Taco Bell which turned a user’s head into giant talking taco to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, resulting in a record 224 million views in one day. Snapchat has reportedly published more than 50 ad-funded lenses at prices between $100,000 and $750,000 – a considerable premium on many other digital formats.

Article by Rob Gallagher, Ovum Analyst