Interview: Page (1) of 2 - 09/16/05 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Part 1: ViewStarts Improved Web Streaming

New techniques make Web video viewing an instant and high-quality experience By Charlie White

ViewStart is an appropriately-named company. Thats because when you see one of its videos on a Web page, it starts playing right away. Besides its quick start, the video appears at a larger size than most and looks better, too. How does this company do it? To find out its secrets, Digital Media Nets Charlie White interviewed Ole Sakkestad, ViewStarts Executive VP of Sales and Marketing and in this part one of a two-part interview, asked about the company and its VeyeTech technology.

DMN: Tell us about your technology. I was looking at a couple of the clips you directed me to, and I noticed that its some really fine-looking video and it didnt take very long to start. Give me an overview of ViewStart and what youre doing.

Sakkestad: Sure. ViewStart is a company that was established at the beginning of 2003 with offices in Norway, India, Houston and Atlanta.  Its a spinoff of a company called Datapower that was established in 1983 specializing in technology based learning.  Datapower was very early into the space of IT and using computers as a tool to learn.  The company exists today and among other things, is a Gold Certified Partner of Microsoft.  The founder and owner of Datapower exited in 2001 and founded ViewStart a year or so later.  His simple mission behind ViewStart is to develop commercially viable application to make the Internet a richer and better experience user experience.  Thats a big vision. But if you think about some of the experiences that the founder of ViewStart had during his 20 years in the IT field, one key experience was what he perceived as the lack of  user-friendliness.  Things were very difficult and not very engaging and compelling. But at the same time, he thought that the potential of the Internet was huge, so the idea was, how can we develop something that can give people a better experience on the net and at the same time be a commercially viable entity.

DMN: It seems to be like the big showstopper with Internet video up until now has been that it takes too long for it to start when you click on it. A lot of times, you have to wait for a large portion of it to download before you can start watching anything, and the quality is not very good. Tell us about how ViewStart has solved those problems.

Sakkestad: We believe that the key to the user experience is not just one thing. We have four components, or four pillars, that are part of our value proposition, and we think its all about providing brands with premium online presence. To do that you need to engage people from the get-go. You need crisp, clear pictures to be able to continue to engage them and provide a premium end-user experience. And you need size, because size equals impact and impact equals action and that results in the customers buying your product. And the fourth pillar is what we think is the Holy Grail, and its about interactivity. So its not only engaging people but also driving them to do something and interacting with them. We have a proposition that covers all those four pillars, and we believe we do each one of them better than our competition. What really sets us apart is that we do all of these four, and we especially concentrate on the interactive part. Its about the premium brand presence, and its about driving sales and revenues while building brands.  These four pillars, we think, are what is needed to do that. As far as instant playing?how we do it is, the technology that weve applied enables us to ensure that regardless of how much bandwidth you have available, we can provide a solution for you?instantly and seamlessly. The technology behind it? Ill have to shoot you if I tell you. [They laugh]

DMN: [Laughing]

Sakkestad: Im joking.

DMN: Its Flash-based, right?

Sakkestad: The companys name is ViewStart, the product name for our patent pending video transformation technology is VeyeTech. The engine to run it all is Flash 6+, but theres more to it than that. Theres a secret sauce, so to speak. From an integration standpoint?and thats the beauty of it?you dont need anything else but Flash to get the quality, to get the speed, to get the size, and to get the interactivity were talking about. We have proprietary elements that we add on top of it. Its all about how we do that in the back office. Think of that as Coca-Cola versus Safeway Select?theyre both in the cola category, but theres a difference between the two in terms of taste and experience. Thats what were talking about. Its not necessarily about how we do it, we think that its about what it does. 

DMN: Is the secret sauce involved in the way the video is compressed, or do you have to have it on a certain kind of server software?how does that work?

Sakkestad: We are not streaming, and because were not streaming we dont have to rely on a streaming server. We can go on a standard asp server. From that standpoint, from the technology in the implementation of it on Web sites, it really is Flash, thats the only requirement. There are no players, nothing proprietary to download or anything like that. Its more what we do with Flash and what we add to Flash that is the secret.

DMN: Id like to link our readers to the samples you sent me so they can get a feel for what youre talking about here.

Sakkestad: We believe that these four pillars are equally important, and marketeers are especially looking for more effective ways to reach consumers, because a lot of what were seeing off-line is not working, its hard to measure it and marketeers are looking for new and better ways to spend their money. So they are increasingly, now, challenging the traditional agencies to come up with advanced solutions for online marketing. In many ways, we are there to assist agencies with the concepts on the creative side, and helping them drive the process forward using our technology as the engine behind the concepts that drive brand value. Its going to let advertisers repurpose TV footage, for example. But it also could be used for dedicated creative for the Internet. So in essence, it doesnt require that you need to do production for the Internet technology, you can just take an existing production and we can transform it in the way weve been talking about for use online. However, the ideal situation would be to have a concept thats entirely driven by the needs of users on the Net, using active media, which is very different from TV. I think, over time, that will happen, but its just a maturity issue, where its like TV advertising in the 50s, where creative directors didnt understand TV so they kept holding on to print. Over time, TV became the medium as the advertising directors and the creative agencies understood it more. I think thats fairly parallel to where we are now, where the Internet as a medium and especially in rich media, is fairly immature and undecided. In many ways, were helping the agencies think about this and understand what can be done. So thats also value that we add in the back office?creating concepts with the agencies. We are not a production house?we want to be a partner in creating brand value through agencies. 

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Related Keywords:ViewStart, videos, Web page, quick start, larger size, secrets, Ole Sakkestad, VeyeTech technology


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