The making of the Loom announcement video

Earlier this year, I got to work alongside the designer and founder of Loom to pull together a story to explain Loom. We made this video to help communicate the vision for Loom without giving away too many hints on the details and features of the service. 

The making of this video was incredibly fun.  

However, little did I know that less than one minute of video required countless hours of story writing, filming and editing. I definitely have a new appreciation for filmmakers and videographers. 

An important message we want to relay to viewers in this video is that the way we record life has evolved dramatically over the last few centuries. And now that we carry camera-equipped devices wherever we go, we're recording more life moments with more convenience. We've made Loom so you can keep all those memories in one private library instead of dispersed across devices, social media sites, and spaces. We want to create a central place, for photos and videos that you access anywhere, at anytime, and from any device with one consistent, reliable experience. If you want to learn more about why we're building Loom, read our first blog post here

The film grain on the video also reflected change, progress and evolution in technology. It had more image noise in the beginning but became clearer with advance methods of recording life being shown. 

Some of you have pointed out the voice actor sounded like Tom Hanks. Although I would have liked to say, yes - it was Tom Hanks!, we can't afford the likes of him...yet. We were on a budget. We actually turned to Craigslist to seek a voice actor after exhausting our personal network. At one point we were convinced in getting a suave British voice for the video but it didn't pan out. 

We posted an ad under the 'Volunteer' section on Craigslist and within a day we had a few replies. When Markus Hayes contacted us we were thrilled to have a professional voice actor volunteer his voice for a startup video. He had quite a few large commercial gigs under his belt and could solidly pull-off many different accents. We were impressed. And also felt maybe this was too good to be true. Now, take heed of what I will say next. Always, always clarify up front even before you look at a portfolio, the agreement of terms of a potential partnership. It turned out that Mr. Hayes received a tip through a friend who found our anonymous post that we were looking for voice actor and did not realize we were looking for a volunteer. Long story short, we came to a win-win agreement.    

The vault in the video was also digitally made by Loom's designer/filmmaker Philipp Wein. Initially, we wanted to film a real vault. After numerous phone calls and emails to nearly every heritage building in and around the city of San Francisco, we received a few tips. We even went on a paid one-hour tour at the Old Mint with our professional camera equipment in attempt to find the perfect vault. I enjoyed the tour and learning some history of the city (my colleague felt differently), but unfortunately the vaults there did not work for the video - though are very beautiful!. We also got in touch with a few other heritage buildings, abandoned banks, and gentrified restaurants and retail stores that had vaults, but after trying to negotiate filming on their premise, none of them worked out. So at the end, we built our own vault.  

The slogan "More Space to Play" conveys that Loom will help users reclaim storage space on user's devices, which have been taken over by large high-resolution files - a common complaint we hear from photographers. The slogan also fosters a spirit that Loom encourages a playful attitude when it comes to managing media, and that a lot of people today take photos and videos for fun. People shouldn't feel limited to the default storage space capacity on their native photo app or hard drive. Instead, we should have an endless camera roll where we can keep taking photos and videos and not worry about transferring, syncing, or deleting to make space.

The music we selected was to portray an air of magic, mystery, and discovery. Some of you pointed out it reminded you of a secret being told or of Harry Potter movies. We want Loom to feel like magic in every photographer's hand. Magic in the sense that photos and videos can be seamlessly organized and there when you need it. Discovering photos can be fun and managing photos should be hassle-free.  

This was the making of the Loom announcement video. Looking forward to sharing more with you in the future.

Loom on Vimeo.

Flickr, I'm disappointed

Just a few hours ago, Flickr announced 1 Terabyte for all free users. Although this sounds impressive, you will quickly realize this is just a marketing move. Since their announcement, Flickr's been really messy with their roll-out; it comes across that it hasn't been thought through properly before announcing and as of right now, it's still not clear. According to Flickr's service terms posted earlier, they had a 300MB per month upload restriction. This was hastily removed after many users complained. Even as I write this blog they are editing their terms in real-time to fix up the allergic reaction from consumers, who find it confusing and untrustworthy. This might sound like they're trying, but after testing it out for myself, I discovered that the upload restriction of 300MB per month is still in effect. So if the limit were still true, from calculations, it will take you 291 years before you can reach that 1TB. Even though that 537,731 photo limit sounds tempting, the offer they are presenting is not what you think it is.

Also, did anyone else take note that Flickr's previous pricing plan was unlimited storage for pro users for $24.99? Is 1TB free storage with ads and $49.99 without a better offer? An increase of storage for free users and a decrease for pro users doesn't make Flickr any better. It's still the same service. It might now be a little prettier for some people but essentially the same web-based online photo management service. In fact, the new UI enables Yahoo! to now put out ads to users more prominently; already more than 3000 Flickr users are complaining about the redesign. I actually don't even see users uploading more than 300MB per month using their current product setup; it's an archaic method, phased out in the dropbox-era; deliberately manual, painful process of uploading selected photos in small batches. And even if users upload more per month, this would be a good thing for Flickr since more content means more users, more traffic, more clicks; thus, more revenue through ads. Considering they are running ads, the users are the product. 

Flickr's value proposition isn't that it is a photo storage utility, it's a photo community to share and explore photos. Now that they are trying to sell storage as well as adverts next to my photos, I feel it's a move too far. My contributions are being used to make money for Flickr through ads.

Bottom line: it is pure marketing bait. The product didn't change, the value proposition is worse; Pro users had unlimited storage for $25 a year, now it's 'ads-free' for $50 for 1TB.