RealNetworks Tries Again With RealTimes Video Montage App
Aiming for a Comeback, RealNetworks Introduces the Photo-Sharing App RealTimes.
Remember RealNetworks? Thanks to software such as iPhoto and Final Cut, as well as the thousands of apps on the various app stores, turning all your photos and videos into nostalgic highlight reels has never been more accessible. More photos than ever before are being taken, as we all try to capture every great moment with the high-spec camera we carry around on the phone in our pocket.
The Seattle-based company on Tuesday is announcing what it calls RealTimes, a combination of apps and services designed to choose appealing pictures and video clips from users’ collections and stitch them into montages, complete with musical soundtracks, that can be saved and shared. Even the flatter, more modernized logo brings me back to the sunny afternoons I lost waiting for internet radio stations to load on the company’s streaming application. And what do you do with that?” In Glaser’s vision, RealTimes will provide an easy way to share important moments culled from that pile of digital content. It’s still big in China) has announced a new app, RealTimes, that adds a touch of class to your photo and video sharing with intelligently constructed video montages. RealNetworks hopes the results, which it calls “stories,” will appeal particularly to parents who have shot thousands of images on smartphones and don’t have time to cull them into presentable sequences. “From our market research, those users are taking lots of pictures of their kids and they are really busy,” said Rob Glaser, RealNetworks’ chief executive.
The software, available on a range of mobile, desktop and TV-mounted platforms, from Android and iOS phones to Windows PCs, is free for basic use and 2 gigabytes of included media storage. This is arguably what stops a lot of us from getting as creative as we’d like with media. (RealNetworks) This is where RealTimes believes it can change things with its showreel creator. The app is the latest work from RealNetworks, who are the guys behind RealPlayer (the early noughties video player) and the app has your productivity and memories at its heart. It’s also easy and fast to customize RealTimes Stories by rearranging clips and photos, changing the duration, and adding filters and personal soundtracks. RealTimes detects things such as blurriness and duplicates to eliminate bum images from the mix; parses image metadata to determine dates and locations; and even detects the focal point (subject-wise) of your videos.
RealTimes also offers two subscription plans—a $4.99-per-month Premium Plan for an additional 25GB of storage, and a $9.99-per-month Unlimited Plan. But a series of market shifts have hurt the company, including the addition of multimedia features to Web browsers and the rise of audio- and video-capable mobile devices. It stumbled during the economic downturn before facing off in court against Hollywood studios over its RealDVD service, a battle it lost in late 2009.
Lately, RealNetworks has been banking on RealPlayer Cloud, an online service introduced in 2013 that is designed to let users of multiple devices move, share and watch videos. More recently, it returned with RealPlayer Cloud, which lets users move, watch, save, and share videos across any device, without the hassle of converting files or plugging in wires. RealTimes demands no extra work; if you like the stories (or “ads of your life,” as Max Pellegrini, RealNetworks’ president of products and marketing, calls them) you can export the videos or share them in a few taps and be on your way.
In my brief hands-on, I managed to create a reasonably cool video of my 1996 cross-country trip, which because the photos were scanned in 2011, was originally dated by RealTimes as such. RealNetworks says it is bringing many innovations to the market, including techniques for ignoring blurry or otherwise unattractive photos and picking interesting scenes in videos. The RealTimes app is initially available as a free download on nine devices, including those running Apple Inc.’s iOS operating software, Google Inc.’s Android, and Microsoft Corp.’s Windows, RealNetworks said. The company in the past three years has released a slate of products, including a Facebook casino game, a mobile ringtone service and an online-hosted video service that rebranded its iconic media player.
But in a quarterly earnings report released early this month, the company said it has “not generated significant revenue from any of these new products and services.” Glaser acknowledged that the figures alone present a gloomy picture. “But we know what we’re doing,” he said. “One of the decisions we’ve taken is we’re going to really focus on our consumer product offerings.” More from WSJ.D: And make sure to visit WSJ.D for all of our news, personal tech coverage, analysis and more, and add our XML feed to your favorite reader. That company’s first comeback product was the iMac, followed by the iPod, which opened the door for Apple’s creation of the iPhone. “If they hadn’t done the iPod first, they probably wouldn’t have done the iPhone,” Mr. The genius part of RealNetworks’ use of the freemium model is that users at the lower levels are given the option to remove the watermark or time restrictions with one-time purchases of just 99 cents — an act that’s encouraged by a tiny “x” on the corner of the watermark. RealNetworks invented the streaming media category and continues to connect consumers with their digital media both directly and through partners, aiming to support every network, device, media type and social network.
There are also filters so the Instagram lovers out there can feel at home, and the whole thing updates in real time, making the editing process impressively swift. While this is clearly being targeted at the casual editors who want to have polished montages of summer weekends and family holidays, there is plenty of depth here for the more advanced editor to toy with too.
Services like Dropbox and Box.com have built enough trust to enter the corporate world, and other services like Flickr have been around for a long time. RealNetworks, RealTimes, RealTimes Stories, RealCloud, RealPlayer Cloud and RealPlayer are either registered trademarks or trademarks of RealNetworks, Inc. in the United States and other countries.
The stories feature also has competition — Google offers a similar option for free, and Apple could easily add more automated value to its “moments” section of the camera roll. Glaser and Pellegrini showed me demos on the iPhone 6, Nexus 6, and iPad, and all were extremely fast. (The same goes for the iOS build I tried over the weekend.) That’s mostly because — unless you choose to create stories from images and photos found only in the cloud — all the processing is done locally. Every user gets 2GB of cloud storage free, plus five more if you enable Auto Upload, but this may not be enough for everyone, particularly if you’re snap happy. According to Glaser, the company is throwing a bigger marketing budget behind RealTimes than the ones afforded to any of the company’s previous consumer product launches.
On first look in this age of endless photography, editing software and cloud computing, RealTimes offers a nice, simplified solution for those of us who can easily get bogged down by the weight of media, and the time it takes to do something meaningful with it.
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