It’s time to announce my new website. It’s called the Audition Factory and the idea is simple. People in television – on-air folks, photogs, directors and the like, send out videocassettes with samples on their work in order to apply for new jobs.
The Audition Factory’s mission is to replace all that videotape with online submissions. It seems so simple, but it’s not.
Though much of the video produced inside a television station spends some of its life in digital form, it’s there during internal processes. There’s no way to spit out video samples that someone applying for a job can easily put on the web.
Much of what went into the site was deciding how to make that video universally accessible. Over the last year or two, my preferred format has been Flash video. Just about all the video I put on this site now is Flash video. Everything at Audition Factory will be Flash video.
It streams quickly. It looks good. It’s playable on 98% of all computers on the net (or so says Macromedia). Best of all, I can stream Flash video without costly streaming servers.
Putting video on the web in digital form adds two incredible advantages over sending a tape. Most obviously, if I have you on the phone, or send you an email, I can have you look at my work now – right this very second. Boy does that make FedEx look slow.
The second advantage is the ability to random access parts of the video. An anchor/reporter might have segments with anchoring, reporting, and what are called standups – little on camera bridges. If you watch a tape you’ve got to watch minutes one through seven to get to standups at minute eight. With my method, as soon as you’re satisfied with one segment, you can skip to the next… or go back… or watch the same segment again – whatever.
There are a few sites that offer similar services already. I think we do a better job in preserving the quality of video. None of them offer this random access feature (if they do later – remember who thought of it first).
We’ll also do one part of the equation in an entirely different way from anyone else. Audition Factory customers will have their video on their own site with their own web address – like www.GeoffTV.com (an early proof of concept, to make sure it actually would work).
Most people applying for jobs can’t afford to be seen in an online cattle call. We respect that and discretion will prevail. Having your own site with an address you give out should help.
It wasn’t incredibly difficult to produce the site, but it’s taken months. There was lots I wanted, but didn’t know how to do. I’ve had amazing technical assistance from my friend Kevin Webster. I’ve also done a lot of peeking at source code to see how others have done things.
I think the site looks professional (even my homemade logo). I know it ‘scratches an itch.’ Now I need to convince customers to sign on and news directors to view their sites.
In a perfect world, that wouldn’t be a problem. The site really does what it’s intended to do and it does it well. But there are still imponderables.
I have learned a lot about starting a business. There are things I never considered before. Helaine and I have a company, an LLC. We have a bank account, tax ID number, PayPal merchant account for credit cards, a toll free phone for the business… we even found an accountant!
All we need now are customers. Of course, my two fears are, we’ll have none, or we’ll have more than we can handle.
Even if you’re not in ‘the business’ you’re invited to give the site a look. I’m breaking it in, so traffic is a good thing. Of course, comments are welcome.
If you are in the business, I hope you’ll consider this service and tell your friends about it.
In any event, it’s been a real trip putting this together. Wish us luck.