SwitchcamPhotosynth for video
Switchcam is a video platform that syncs up multiple clips of the same event, and lets you decide which angle to watch. In 2011, the startup’s founders approached me with a tech demo and asked if I’d come onboard to help them build the future of interactive video.
Switchcam, to me, was the definition of a fast and scrappy startup. When I first walked into the office, I was taken back by the back-alley entrance and the sloped floors that caused chairs to roll from one side of the office to the other. Changes to the interface were pushed in hours, not days or weeks. Although it taught me a lot about speed, it presented a strong challenge to creating good design.
Within a couple days of starting, I realized that the team was creating separate CSS files with each author's names and cobbling together some html, so I stepped in to help. Over time I designed and created a LESS CSS framework for the company that was similar to the Twitter Bootstrap architecture. It allowed for massive compression of styles, and selective inclusion. It also allowed me to more rapidly implement and test my designs.
When I first saw the beta version of the interface, I was simultaneously inspired and confused. The video "timeline" was illegible, clunky, and resembled the arrangement view from a digital audio workstation. Video-switching – a key value proposition – had a tremendous amount of lag (the worst kind of evil a playback experience can suffer from). So I set to work coming up with a solution.
Having both a design and front-end background put me in a unique position to understand both how to design the ideal interactive user experience solution and grasp the limitations and constraints of current technology. What this means in concrete terms is that I was able to design, test, code and successfully run 3 simultaneous embedded youtube players and seamlessly switch between the three.
This redesigned interface attracted the interest of music artists like Jared Leto, Pitbull and DJ Tiesto, event promoters like Skol (Budweiser of S. America), reality TV producers TruTV, and big name investors like Mark Cuban. It fueled Switchcam's $1 million seed round, and surged engagement numbers when embedded on company sites like Skol and even PBS.
Over the next few months, I redesigned this interface for mobile browsers, iOS, and iterated multiple times on the desktop based on user feedback. In 2012, I left Switchcam to help more startups solve big challenges.