If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million. Advertising and social media platforms like Facebook are pushing video more than ever before, making it a valuable tool for customer acquisition and engagement, particularly on mobile. However, video production can be expensive and often gets moved to the bottom of your priority list. Cinamaker works together with that little piece of hardware you never leave home without — your iPhone.
The multi-camera app helps individuals and companies alike produce high-quality video content without expensive equipment. Whether you’re in your living room, filming your next how-to video, or at a conference grabbing content, Cinamaker’s software helps you connect several iPhones and Internet Protocol (IP) cameras to get different angles and improve your production value.
The cameras connect over Wi-Fi or ethernet cables into an iPad where you can edit, manage, and stream all cameras at once in Cinamaker’s app. You can also record live and send your video to Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Periscope and other video streaming services. The app is free with an option to upgrade to premium features.
Cinamaker recently signed a deal with Panasonic, is a part of the Coca-Cola’s BridgeCommunity Commercialization program, and is headed to VidCon for a soft launch in anticipation of their full product release in August. “We’re two years of engineering, about 40,000 hours of software development across both platforms, so it’s been a major undertaking,” says Benjamin Nowak, Founder & CEO.
Here, Nowak shares more about their origination as a music broadcasting research project, why video production shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, and how they hope to leverage this technology past the multi-camera model.
How did the idea for Cinamaker come about?
Cinamaker started coming to life as a result of an R&D project. It was a music broadcasting app. It allowed you to connect to your friend’s phones and play the same music in perfect sync across all the phones. About a year after I launched that, I was trying to figure out how to best leverage our synchronization technology. It just occurred to me that sync is very important in video product, and if I could synchronize people’s phone cameras, it would enable them to do more powerful things.
What kind of target audience did you have in mind and how did it evolve?
The new generation of content creators — You-Tubers that needed to increase the quality of what they’re filming. A multi-camera, in certain circumstances, is a no-brainer and really increases production value. We still believe that’s a very big market for us.
What’s evolved is all the professional use cases. We’ve gotten interest from a large number of broadcasters who are looking to lower their production costs. They’re creating a lot more. A lot of their content is only being broadcasted digitally, so there’s no reason to have $30,000 cameras doing the production. Surprisingly, at the high end of the market, they feel like some of these IP cameras and action cameras and even smartphones are good enough for a lot of the work.
In general, corporate marketing event people, social media editors, the folks who are already doing live streaming and they’re either doing it with a single camera themselves or they’re hiring a firm that brings out multi-camera and they’re paying a fortune every time they need to do something of quality — the goal is to empower these marketers and individuals to very easily start a stream, manage it, have graphics set up, and just kind of simplify the process and make it affordable.
Where are you currently with funding?
We have been self-financed up until about a month ago, when we took our first investment. We are raising money because to launch, it’s probably as expensive as the software development. But we feel like we’ve had enough accomplishments to this point where we can justify a reasonable valuation.
We’re talking to the angel community and we’ve had some interest from some A-class investors. Right now, our goal is just to get in the marketplace and make sure people know about us.
Tell me more about the features within the platform. How does it all work?
We’re building the app natively in iOS and on Android. You can buy it in the app stores. There are two main components of the app — there’s the director pad, which is the tablet app that allows you to preview, remote control, start and stop recording your live streaming, audio mixing, and the graphics engine. Then we have a capture app, which is the camera app which has all your manual controls, it’s your video camera. Operating it’s relatively straightforward in that scenario.
The other option is you connect directly to IP cameras. In one of our recent accomplishments, we signed a deal with Panasonic where they’re licensing our code to be their mobile solution for their IP cameras.
Is your goal for Cinamaker to be a standalone app or to sell its API to other companies as you did with Panasonic?
Our goal now is to be the destination solution for folks live-streaming with multi-camera recording. We’re gonna be opportunistic as a small business and see what’s out there. There’s R&D we’re doing that we will launch products as SDKs because we’re gonna be adding capabilities to our app that can be valuable to other people. That’s definitely a model we should consider as a technology creator and leader in that space.
What’s your revenue model?
We will charge for a professional version, but our goal is to make the app free and offer a lot of value so it’s less of a trial and more of a tool for 90 percent of the people that download it. If you want to pay, you can get rid of our banner and get the remaining 10 percent of the features. Those I think will be for people who take it seriously, the You-Tuber, the corporate marketer, the event people. The price is gonna be a $49 a month subscription.
What are some lessons you’ve learned in the last couple of years as a startup founder?
You have to be a special kind of person to take on endeavors like this. You have to validate your idea as you develop it. Taking care of intellectual property early, very important. Trying to maintain a steady vision, having realistic goals. Withstanding the ups and downs while paying attention to the downs to make sure you’re on track. We feel we’ve done a lot of that along the way and that’s allowed for the continued investment in the product.
What’s next for Cinamaker aside from the product launch?
We are very serious about R&D. Our product was R&D. It started out as, “Hey, do you think we can do this, or how would this work?” And then, “How far can we push the envelope with video streaming? Can we get four streams? Can we get six?” But there’s a whole bunch of other neat innovations that we are working on. We’re leveraging some of our core technology around multi-camera and live and trying to work that into some of these new business models that are evolving. We’ll keep improving our product.