Working Smarter

Harness the Power of Crowdsourced Video at Your Events

A new social-video app allows thousands of people at the same event to combine their creative forces and produce one cohesive, seamlessly edited film.

Vyclone users can witness all angles of an event simultaneously. 

Joe Sumner, bassist for the rock band Fiction Plane and son of musician Sting, was playing a show in Lithuania in 2011 when he noticed a lot of concertgoers filming the performance with their smartphones. The next day, he discovered YouTube was flooded with nearly 500 videos of the set, none of them very good quality, and each capturing only one person’s perspective.

Sumner wanted to see a film comprised of everyone’s viewpoint — the artists on stage and the fans in the crowd. And he wanted that film to accurately emulate the effect of being at a live event. “His epiphany,” said David King Lassman, a tech industry veteran and entrepreneur, “was, why can’t we bring those angles together into one movie?”

With that in mind, last year Sumner and Lassman launched Vyclone, a free app that allows event attendees — anywhere from two to more than 2,000 — to upload videos (up to three minutes in length), which are then automatically edited within seconds into a single, unified reel. And if you’re not satisfied with the app’s automatic editing, you can keep the raw footage and also craft a “director’s cut.”

“It allows people to collaborate on capturing a moment together,” Lassman said. Vyclone identifies users who are in the same location via GPS coordinates and splices their footage together, allowing them to share instantly via social media. The crowdsourcing app also gives users the opportunity, Lassman said, to “reimagine that video” using filters.

Because most event organizers don’t have the budget for a multi-person film crew, Vyclone is a good alternative to creating costly promotional videos. “From an organization’s perspective,” Lassman said, “we can drop in alpha channels so that we can do branding in videos, pre-rolls, [and] end-rolls.”

But as with every new app, there are logistics to consider. “It’s hard enough to get people to do stuff,” said Barak Kassar, founder of Rassak Experience, a San Francisco-based digital communications and marketing agency, “and sometimes video is just harder. Anything to reduce the friction is good.”

One way to reduce that friction, Kassar suggested, speaking in general terms and not specifically about Vyclone, is by having a socially driven conference app through which event staff can send attendees prompts. “Try to get the social-sharing prompt in front of people,” he said, “in as many natural ways as possible — literally put it in their hands.” Lassman added: “Giving them something to film is a great incentive. Make the incentive the content, not something desperate like, ‘Do this and get a free T-shirt.’”

In order to co-create, Vyclone users generally have to be in the same physical location. However, last year the app partnered with English pop singer Ed Sheeran to create a crowdsourced music video for his song “Give Me Love.” Sheeran tweeted to his fans, encouraging them to download Vyclone and film themselves doing something with his single playing in the background, to use “as a reference point to make sure [the video] falls in the right place [within the app],” Vyclone’s David King Lassman said. Out of thousands of submissions, 70 were chosen by Atlantic Records to create the final cut, which resulted in an authentic compilation of Sheeran’s fans from around the world.

Indeed, Vyclone is indicative of how business is increasingly conducted — utilizing crowdsourced content and creating deeper engagement between organizations, brands, and consumers. “We have on our T-shirts ‘Lef s co-create,’ because we think that is going to be one of the mottos of our time,” Lassman said. “We are doing something that is really magical. The movies that are coming in from across the planet, where people are getting together, transcending every demographic, making movies from multiple angles, it is really gratifying to see.”

Sarah Beauchamp

Sarah Beauchamp was formerly assistant editor of Convene.