Casey Pugh and Jamie Wilkinson know their online video.
The former was on the original team at Vimeo as the video sharing site for cool kid’s Lead Flash and Senior App Developer and had a stint at Boxee as the internet TV and social networking software developer’s Head of Web Development. The latter was an Internet Scientist at the perennial online video program Rocketboom, helped conceive of and develop the Know Your Meme wiki and its accompanying web series, co-founded video discovery tool Magma, and taught an actual college class about internet fame at Parsons. (And Peter Thiel says higher education is a bubble. Ha!)
Together, Pugh and Wilkinson also make up half the team that took home an Emmy Award for the crowdsourced reimagineering of the original Star Wars, Star Wars Uncut.
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You get the point. The two have a helluva lot of experience in the online video industry. And that experience lead them to realize there’s something missing from the experience of viewing online video.
“Finding and watching videos online is a fragmented and complex process,” Wilkinson tells me via e-mail. He’s right. We share share and discover videos via Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube Likes and suggestions, Google Reader, Digg, Reddit, random links, sometimes even email, and a handful of other ways made possible by technology and social media. That makes for a disjointed way to discover videos and a loose and disconnected way to view them.
What online video is missing is a central, all-inclusive location for both video viewing and discovery, or a “dream website” that offers what Pugh describes as “seamless playback, big video, playlists, and community curation.” But that kind of online platform/destination doesn’t really exist. Or at least it didn’t, until Pugh and Wilkinson created it.
VHX.TV, which just launched into private beta, is a place where you can collect, share, and watch videos from around the web. It’s kind of like New Twitter with a singular focus on video instead of minutia.
It works like this. Users 1) sign up, 2) select friends to follow, 3) share videos with those friends via a bookmarking tool or automagic feature that tracks all the videos you watch on other sites, and 4) collect videos in their queues to watch later, continuously, and without interruption. There’s also seamless integration into services like Twitter and Facebook, so you can share your VHX selections with your followers and friends.
“We are focused on creating a streamlined, TV-esque experience for the web,” Wilkinson said. “Videos start playing right away, and they never stop playing. The videos are hand-selected by the curators and friends you trust to find the best content.”
Other companies exist (e.g. Popscreen) or existed (e.g. Network2) in this discovery and playback space, but none quite like VHX. “These video aggregators are great because you can stash videos from any site into one location, but the actual watching experience suffers,” explains Pugh. “Our primary focus has been on creating a streamlined, consistent, ‘decision-free’ way to watch videos, with breadth of support secondary.”
Currently that breadth of support encompasses video from YouTube, Vimeo, and raw files (e.g. podcasters and TED), with Dailymotion, LiveStream, and Blip.tv in the works. Native iPhone and iPad apps, a Boxee app, and video mixtapes – like video playlists, but with the addition of album art and Pop-Up Video-style commentary – to share on VHX or on users’ blogs are in the works, too. And all of VHX is written atop its own API, so other developers can add everything Pugh and Wilkinson forgot.
The pair are funding VHX out of pocket for now. “We’re excited to put a round together,” Pugh told me, “but we want people who get the video space and believe in this as much as we do.” That being said, if you’re interested in getting involved (whether as an investor, programmer, designer, teammate, video sharing site, or in some other capacity that makes sense) don’t hesitate to contact the VHX team.
Does all of the above make you want to give VHX a try? We have beta invites for the first 100 Tubefilter readers to sign up. There are just two requirements: 1) Visit VHX.TV/tubefilter to get started, and 2) You must tell us about anything awesome you find.