Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Interview with Alec Meikle, MYMUSAIC
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
Tired of that same-old, boring photo slideshow? How do you create a better, more exciting presentation of your photos? MYMUSAIC (www.mymusaic.com), a Los Angeles startup, thinks it has figured that out, and recently launched a service which automatically matches photos to the beat of music, creating an online video of your photos and music. We spoke with founder Alec Meikle to learn about what the service offers and how it's different than what's available from other software.
How did the idea for the service come about?
Alec Meikle: I was in the early stage of building a social network for travel, and thought it would be a great idea to create this for that service. I had gone on vacation, and was getting around to editing a movie with online video, but was burnt out on the editing process. I had all these photos I wished I could put to a beat, but I found it wasn't easy to make a slideshow. As I was thinking of a way to enhance the user interface experience for that travel network, the more I thought that it would be a strong idea by itself, and decided it could be its own platform.
For those who haven't used MYMUSAIC, describe what your service is all about?
Alec Meikle: The software that we've invented automates the whole process of putting photos to the beat of the music. It's primarily about the photos, though you can include short video slips as well. The main difference between photos and videos is that photos are a static images, and we've put together a process that can be automated for photo, because that is not subjective like video, you can turn photos from front to back, and so on. I went to film school, so I understood the value of aligning pictures to your soundtrack, and editing is what makes it all come together so nicely.
How did you start developing this?
Alec Meikle: We began with a number of different software firms, who were really excited to start development, but we got some really high quotes and didn't realize how big of a project it was. We were resigned to face the need to raise some money before development, but then a very talented developer reached out to me and got started on it. He moved fast, and did great work, and in two or three months he'd built a proof of concept, which was able to achieve the desired result. It wasn't at the level we have today, but at that point we were able to raise some more money from an angel, to build a much more sophisticated platform with lots of social elements and a better user interface. It's a very exciting time for us now because we're developing an iPhone app, which will allow you to use this on your phone. That app is going to be our most powerful asset, and will eliminate the whole process of uploading your content to the computer, and then from your computer to MYMUSAIC.
Why sync photos with the beat of music?
Alec Meikle: The concept is not just to match photos to the beat, it's also to move at a much faster pace. When your photos are in sync with music, it's much easier to watch. When we were developing the concept, we wondered how fast you could go if you were transitioning on the beat, and we found that it was amazing. Our test movies we were able to run through 60 photos in about ten seconds, in a really fast song, and it still looked good. I think by transitioning on the beat, it allows you to more fluidly tell a story, and the pictures can come at a much more rapid succession. It's much more stimulating, as you get to absorb a new photo or scene every second. It's particularly good in terms of capturing moments of action. A good example is I was taking photos of my nephew playing in the yard, and you can see his expression changing every half a second, which was cool to see in playback. Each photo freezes time, to allow you to absorb that moment and expression. Think of using that for replaying a boxing match, like a knockout punch. A video happens too quick, but a photo would allow you to see each expression and reaction to the blow.
How is this different and better than using software on your PC or other online services?
Alec Meikle: I have yet to discover software that automates this whole process. The only way to achieve the same result is through editing software, which is a whole other ball of wax. That requires time and skill. The software out there still needs you to be involved in it, and you have to know how it works to do this. Although people like Apple have made great strides and have options within their software to place beat markers in certain places, and make cuts, it still requires editing. From my perspective, slideshow applications end up coming off as a presentation of photos, and because tons of slideshows are one photo at a time and rely on cheesy graphic transitions, it just takes away from the content. I don't think that's a great comparison.
What's your background and how did you get into this?
Alec Meikle: I graduated from Emerson College with a film degree. I moved out to LA, and started working in the industry, at Warner Brothers. I then left that job for an independent research provider doing analytics in San Francisco. From there, I started with this idea.
What's next for you?
Alec Meikle: We are at square one, finishing the product, and releasing the desktop version. We're now focused on getting the first version of our app out, and will probably submit it Apple next week or the week after. From here, we're now starting to focus on the marketing front, and to start developing partnerships. A lot of what we do have to do with content. Music is a big part of the equation, and I think because of that connection with music we will serve as a great tool for the music industry. I think this we'll be able to leverage user generated content, and find different ways to curate music and content and discover new content. It's a great way for emerging musicians to get their music heard, and a forum to showcase their music. We want to establish ourselves as a tool for artists to make music, as a forum for videos, and a vehicle for them to get their music heard.