Rob’s demonstration reminded me of a talk I heard by Alex Lindsay of Pixel Corps five months ago at MacWorld Expo. Lindsay wowed me at a podcast workshop with examples of videos with links directly to places where you could buy stuff. He said the MacBreak video podcast once experimented with a link to a vendor selling microphones. “So THAT’s why we sold 400 instead of 15!” the vendor said when the link was explained to him. I believed it when Lindsay predicted that video links would one day enable podcasters to compete with broadcast television, which has never been able to achieve what he called “the holy grail of TV,” because it’s never been possible for a viewer to use that remote control to actually buy something. I thought Lindsay’s video links were very cool, but it looked to me as if creating them myself was going to be a technical challenge best postponed for later.
What blew me away this afternoon was how easy it was for me to put links into one of my YouTube videos using the free service at Overlay.tv . I had a ball trying the interface out, and it gave me an intimate feel for the potential of video links. They turn the experience of watching an Internet video into something a lot more active. For me as a video creator, it reminded me of the first time I tried creating a link to a word of text in Blogger. All of a sudden, my text creation had a third dimension. Now the same is true for video.
I naturally imagine the uses this could have for artists and arts organizations. I’ve been spreading the gospel of using new media, especially video, to connect with stakeholders, and now this ability to have videos include overlays makes the case even more compelling.
I’m aware that there are other tools to add links to videos, and that Overlay.tv has not invented the category here. But they were the first one that looked easy enough for me to try, so I’m grateful for what they’re doing. Rob says they are a startup of about 12 people, growing fast.
I got so excited trying out Overlay.tv that I’ve spent all afternoon and evening playing with it, when I had planned to be working on tomorrow’s episode of the Audio Pod Chronicles, which will include a brief audio interview I did with Rob Lane after his presentation today.
UPDATE: Rob Lane emailed me this link to Sawyer Watson’s skateboard video. He said he can’t yet send me the Smirnoff link as it’s built on their next release due out over the next three to four weeks as they come out of beta.