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CrowdFlik enables ad-hoc video collaboration at events


A couple of years ago, I attended a school concert where one of my children was performing. As I looked around the gymnasium, it was immediately obvious when a particular set of parents had their children taking the stage; the phones and cameras all appeared suddenly, like gophers peeping out of their holes. "What a shame," I thought, "that there's not a good collaboration tool for all of us to securely share our photos and videos from this event. Imagine the edited version of the video, using all the different shots from around the room!"

I didn't notice him hanging around, but apparently Chris Hamer was standing nearby with his mind-reading ray. The former advertising and marketing exec is now the CEO of CrowdFlik, and his company has created an event-centric video app that's aimed squarely at those soccer game and school concert videographers (plus bigger public events).

Hamer's brainwave is all about synchronization. It would be prohibitively tough to sync up all the video shot at an event, unless the devices had lined up their time codes in advance. That's the CrowdFlik trick: when you open the app and create or join an event (tied into your phone's location), the app checks with the US Naval Observatory's master atomic clock to make sure it's microsecond-accurate. From that point forward, the recorded clips (in 10-second chunks) will line up perfectly with the recordings of other participants.

You can watch other CrowdFlikers' videos in the app, and upload and share your own. The real fun comes in remixing, though: once the videos are processed in the cloud, you can pick an event to slice and dice at will. Each 10-second segment "stack" shows you all the available clips covering that moment, and you simply tap the one you want to move it into the video timeline. Your finished "Flik" can be synced back to the CrowdFlik cloud, and since the app is only moving the EDL (edit decision list -- the information about which clips are used when, not the clips themselves) the transfer is speedy compared to a full video upload.

CrowdFlik requires Facebook authentication to log in (other services are coming), and the app's rough edges show that it's still very much a 1.0 -- although the relatively flat UI should work out nicely on iOS 7. There's no privacy option for events, for instance, although that feature is on the roadmap.

Hamer has big plans for the service, though, and he anticipates some interesting use cases for big concerts, sporting events and other mass-scale crowd situations. Imagine a promoter or band offering loyalty points or other perks for CrowdFlik users who volunteer their video to be used on the band's tour site -- that sort of thing is a possibility.

The CrowdFlik app is free for iPhone 4, 4S and 5 and is on the App Store now (note that the App Store description says it's compatible with the 3GS and iPod touch, but that's not recommended). An iPad-optimized version is in the works.

Here's a video demo from Hamer at TechCrunch Disrupt, showing how an early beta of the CrowdFlik app works.

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