This week features Seth Kenvin, who is the CEO of Market7. Seth talks about collaborative environments so individuals located all over the world can work on video production projects in real-time, improving the overall process.
Topics covered in this episode:
- Seth’s vision for the video collaboration space.
- How individuals can benefit using new social and collaborative platforms.
- How budgets for production projects can be managed in a more effective way.
- When it became evident to Seth that better technical tools were needed for producing quality video content.
- How collaborating and communicating in real-time with team members works.
- How video creatives are from Venus, and producers are from Mars.
- What the future challenges and opportunities are for video production.
- How Market7 impacts the business side of video production.
- How Market7’s collaborative tools improves video production for every team member involved.
Full Text Transcript
Show Introduction: Hi, I’m Michael London and welcome to Spidcast, the future of collaborative video production brought to you by Spidvid.com. On this episode, we’re visiting with Seth Kenvin, an Internet entrepreneur and CEO of Market7.com. Seth will discuss his vision of the future of collaborative productions and his part in that arena. Market7 is a superb tool for everybody – from producers to grips and it’s all about keeping it organized and keeping it profitable for everyone. So let’s jump right in to this week’s Spidcast.
Michael: Seth, thank you so much for joining us today.
Seth: Thank you for the opportunity.
Michael: Tell us if you would a little bit about Market7.
Seth: Market7 is a company that endeavors to provide environments for people to work together on making videos. So the different ways that we work together on content creation, coming with an idea, getting it scripted, storyboarded, moving on to post-production when there’s footage to look at, how do people review it and provide their feedback that got the editing process and ultimately approve of that content and throughout in addition to the content collaboration that has to happen, different aspects of project management for people to work better together whether that’s scheduling events, assigning tasks, sharing files and the like.
Michael: Man, there’s a lot going on with what you just said and you somewhere, somehow saw the need for Market7. What was that, let’s say, the a-ha moment for you when you realized that this was needed to be created?
Seth: I’ve been in high-tech marketing and a few years ago, the marketing activities in which I was participating expanded from what they had been. Things like developing websites and public relations and events, white papers to include video alongside those other activities. I was more frequently commissioned video production projects working with producers and finding that the utilization of software and technology to make communications clear and to make processes more efficient in video was lacking compared to a lot of those other sorts of projects.
If I could give one example, if we’re working together on a document, presentation, a paper, and we take the software into something like track changes mode, you or I can look at each other’s comments right within the context of the content on which we’re working so I can see that you have a comment or suggested that it is exactly where it would appear. In video and contrast, conventionally, what people do is they’ll look at the video in a player, that player doesn’t have a mechanism for feedback so they have to either scribble down their notes for later exchanges or maybe toggle between the player and email or compile their feedback. Once there’s feedback from multiple parties, there could be confusion as to who’s attending carries the day are people who are waiting to the right file or is everybody being good about indicating with the timelines.
So getting that capability to sort of very intuitively integrate ones feedback within the content itself was something that I’ve found lacking in video production projects. The more I explore it, the more I realized that there were a number of elements the whole way through from conceptualization to completion of video production that could stand to be done more clearly and more efficiently with the right software.
Michael: Let me clarify this in my mind. You’re saying that you have a video on your site and we’re working on it together. We’re discussing the added points and save the music cues and we can work on those elements and be communicating in real time as well?
Seth: That does happen. And actually, there’s an equal advantage if we work asynchronously. In terms of real time, if you and I are both looking at the video and you post a comment to a Web browser on your end, I will see and my client that comment dynamically appear while I’m making my edits. I can reply to it so we can essentially have a real time messaging session while we’re both watching the video together.
Similarly, if we are in completely different time zones or have completely different schedules, and need to coordinate our efforts without being able to be together, this can have correct for the kinds of issues that frequently arise through the ambiguity of how to think about video. If you want to make a comment about a particular portion of the screen and instead of having to describe “you know that part in the upper left where there’s some pixelation or something like that”, when you leave your comment, you can actually highlight that portion of the screen.
Your comment is going to specify where in the timeline to change to what’s in the video. So if your comment pertains from 0:01:14-0:01:19, you’d be able to demarcate that. So whether we’re working together simultaneously, under the gun and we’re trying to communicated as efficiently and expeditiously as possible, we can have a real time session with the same thing or for reasons we can’t coordinate being available at the same time, this actually makes up for some of the frequent ambiguity that exist when we’re working asynchronously.
Michael: Now, I got to tell you, Seth. I have worked video production for close to 20 years and I’m telling you that aside from sitting side by side in an editing suite with your client, this is just fantastic for the producer.
Now, you’ve often said that creatives are from Venus and folks who commission projects are from Mars. What exactly do you mean by that?
Seth: If I could actually go back to the episode in which the company started, one of the things I did that I sure think of there may be a company who are doing this better because I went to producers I’d hired and first thing I would do given the opportunity to talk about the potential for this new company is complain to them about “Why did you service me so poorly? Do you realize how we work in an enterprise the way we collaborate on projects, the way we deal with our bureaucracy and coordinate our communication and you’re just handing off a stack of DVDs or pointing us to an FTP site doesn’t suit our needs if you don’t provide the framework in which we can clearly communicate and reach consensus and provide you with organized feedback?”
And then as the conversation procedure, it got to be their turn to kind of complain to me about how I who was a poor correspondent to them in my role as a client. For example, one of the things I heard from producers we hired is the fact that we would show up for a shoot and essentially had done no preparation and made no allocation for effort or budget for pre-production.
So we would show up for a shoot and then at times would be half a dozen people there on crew, they didn’t know how they’re supposed to set up their gear to shoot because the thing hasn’t been storyboarded. There was somebody with a teleprompter while we were still hacking at the script. The person who was going to read the script that they were a company employee was hardly prepared with their lines and was inept to do multiple takes and this producer/director person was stressed out about the fact that they had a client who was not adequately prepared that right in the middle of the process, there was a shoot to do and I think that kind of illustration of where those of us kind (add) the organizational side, the corporation tend to fall down in our execution on video.
We’re used to sort of 80/20 rule in situations in which if a paper or a presentation is due tomorrow and it’s hardly started, not an ideal situation, but we can probably pull something out that’s at least going to be good if not very good by being kind of resolution enough about getting it done the right way. While if in video, there’s only so much you can do in the eleventh hour because whatever content you have is already there. There’s only so much you can salvage in editing.
And the client’s frequent lack of understanding of that imperative is one example. Like others include the fact that producers tend to be more creatively-oriented. Their clients are the people commissioned the video tend to be more sort of structured in their orientation maybe more bureaucratic versus more freelance in nature. Even down to the sort of “I’m a Mac” “I’m a PC” type of element where one party used to working with that they’ll be creating the suite software and that kind of interface within a Mac environment and the other is possible more like going to be spending most of their time computing in Microsoft Office on Windows.
So what we’re trying to do is allow those people to work together and whatever we develop from pre-production to post-production and project management throughout every single feature we push out, we’re constantly putting ourselves in the minds of the person who’s sporadically involved in video production, who’s more corporate in their orientation how are they going to experience it and how’s it going to feel most intuitive and powerful to them and likewise the person who’s constantly engaged in video production more creatively-oriented, how do we provide the right interface for them to feel equally at home and able to be productive.
Michael: Excellent points there because getting the suites and the creatives on the same page can be such a challenge. I’m glad you’re trying to bridge that. I really appreciate that piece of it. While we’re in the area of the suites or the (bean counters), how does Market7 impact the business end of video production?
Seth: Much of what we talked about has to do with the content collaboration of we’re involved in. Our modules included a creative brief of production brief in which people can layout what is the strategy and what might be some of the key tactical to getting this project done. We have a scripting module which can layout the actual content. That includes advantages like being able to assess how long that content is likely to run based on the length of the script. It also supports integration of visual elements like viral footage, storyboards, headshots of actors, etcetera.
We got our post-production player that supports integrated feedback and commenting in order to guide the editing process. Really throughout the process, those are more staged around content collaboration throughout the process, we enable functionality like task assignment, event scheduling, and one of the modules that we just released in the last couple of months actually pulls from those for resource management. A frequent issue – in video production, as we’ve talked to people is just given the creative nature of both the process and the people involved, there’s often an oversight over how much time went into this. Did it line up with projections? Did we make or lose money on this project?
So one of the things we do that endeavors to basically fold than in very conveniently is we take the information we have from tasks, we take the information we have from events and we compile a sheet of how much time each participant in the project spent.
For example, if a task is assigned to you within the project, when you check a box to indicate you’ve completed that task, there’s actually a processing how much time did you spend on that and two pushes of the keyboard, you can press 60 to indicate that you spent an hour on it and you’re done with that.
When someone schedules an event and scheduling events within our software flow right through the people’s personal calendaring, whether they used Gmail or Outlook or Entourage, whatever systems of email and counter-management that you use. There’s no double work here. When you want to schedule an event and invite people from your organization or involved in your effort, you can schedule it within Market7, push it through their personal calendars. We have some functionality already for checking people’s availability and we’re enhancing that as we speak.
Again, these resource measuring pieces will pull the information for which task you completed and how long it took you, what events you participated and how long they are scheduled for, allows you to add other items very easily like click a button and indicate, I spent 10 hours editing and 2 hours on the storeroom and then compile across all that how much total time did you spend in your project and with just two more fields, you can enter OK and the projected time for this person was so many hours and the hourly cost of this person is so much and then basically get a practically automated report of how much time and money did each participant in this project spend versus what was expected and for someone in the production, the responsibility get an understanding as the project is progressing. Is this again a profitable or unprofitable project for me? Is this a client that tends to work with me towards my time goals or not? Next time a project comes up with this client or maybe even time before it’s over, confront the fact of where we are in terms of real time, effort and implied finances by going to this project compared to what was anticipated.
Michael: Wow, the updates in continuing audits of production costs and expectations are very, very useful. And since we’re on that topic of finance, it’s no secret that the economy has been quite harsh for businesses over the past year. What has Market7’s experience been especially being such a relatively young company?
Seth: First of all, we’re a small company, so to a degree, we’re fortunate that our spending was already at a low level when the time got to a period where there was good reason to keep it at a lower level. Second of all, this is a really fascinating time to start a company. For myself, my prior startup experience was in a router company. A company that actually made gigantic telecommunications equipment so by necessity, a lot of funding was required to both engineer and to manufacturer of that equipment, in this case web-based software in 2009.
Due to those factors, a lot of things conventionally, one had to ascertain to put in to the software are not there anymore. We don’t need to run our own servers and systems and have an extensive systems administration staff. Also because it’s web-based software as a service, our requirements for supporting users are different that they might have been otherwise. All somebody needs is a browser. They don’t have to maintain the software on their premises. And for us, we can incrementally get a functionality which keeps us on target and also lessens the drama around any particular feature release.
In fact, we can get it even better by to a degree of relaxing. We talked to our users about how they’re using our software, currently comprehend where the wishes for enhances are and build towards that enhancement and iterate again. Get it in front of them and often within days or weeks, comprehend just how well does a suite what they’re looking to get out of it. So instead of overly accessing on our own side and frankly being inefficient by anticipating how people are going to use it, we can get it right into peoples hands, get that feedback in real time and go from a good to a great implementation within days or weeks instead of taking weeks and months to get a pretty good implementation out.
Michael: So the fact that changed rapidly for your clients certainly speaks well of Market7 and your commitment to customer satisfaction. That’s great.
Now, technology and behavior is constantly changing, so what are some of the challenges and opportunities did you see coming down the road for collaboration around video production?
Seth: Well, we at Market7 at the moment are very focused on the actual production stage from conceptualization to completion. There are important endeavors both before and after that that I believe can probably be that are addressed through some of the same approaches that we’re bringing to the production process. Once video is completed, how do people access it within an organization? How do they publish it out to the world and monitor its performance in the world? How do they utilize it internally if somebody has a meeting about a particular topic coming up with somebody? How do they find what content might we have within my organization about that topic? Who’s had experience with it and what did they thought?
Likewise, before the video is produced, generally, video is taken on by sort of like a transient team – a group of people that kind of form together and disband once the project’s done. Maybe people come back together in the future, but often in different combinations. I think likewise, a lot of these technologies that are very flexible and web-based and rapid can enable the identification of what’s the right team for this particular project. How do we convene those people – assure that they have the right availability and that with things are lined up for them to collaborate and build expediently that the best possible team of skills and abilities toward working together in advance of the project.
Michael: Seth, as a media producer, I love your philosophy. I love your product and I love your attitude as well. And you seem to have solved a lot of the problems that I’ve encountered as a producer. Thank you for joining us today.
Seth: Thank you.
Michael: And how do people get in touch with you?
Seth: Well, our website is a great place to connect with us. It’s www.Market7.com. We’re fairly active on Twitter which you can also get through to our website, but our Twitter handle is “marketseven”. We’re based in San Francisco. You can look up our address on our website and you’re free to visit us, and we’re reachable at anytime by phone as well 415-981-8000.
Michael: Again, Seth, thank you so much for joining us on Spidcast.
Seth: Thank you.
Michael: Seth Kenvin, CEO of Market7. I’m Michael London. Thank you so much for joining us today on Spidcast.