by Chris Barylick
January 20th, 2006
As Macworld Expo was winding down and the San Francisco cacophony came to a close, a few new items emerged which were worth an extended look. Chief among these and perhaps worthy of the unofficial "decidedly cool thing of the first day of the show award" is FilmLoop, a free image viewing utility that both allows users to track and view "loops" (collections of images shown in a marquee style through the FilmLoop player) as well as easily create loops for distribution across the Internet.
Backed by Apple legend Guy Kawasaki's Garage Technology Ventures venture capital firm and GlobeSpan Capital Partners, FilmLoop looks like the next killer app, having taken the idea of sharing digital archives and arriving at the notion that they can be best presented as a controllable scrolling marquee, which actually works extremely well.
Cogent, logical, searchable and adjustable, users can subscribe to loops of digital images as well as make their own through the program. Once a loop has been created (typically though drag and drop from Mac OS X or an iPhoto library), users can then create a loop of up to 200 pictures and tag or comment the images as they wish. From here, hypertext can be added and the images will be sent to FilmLoop, where it will be filtered for adult content and then categorized into its general library. Loops can be sent to friends or made public and registered FilmLoop users can freely insert comments about images they find interesting.
FilmLoop in action with Mac-centric author Robin Williams.
Web integration is key to FilmLoop and images can serve as clickable links to almost any form of Internet content (Web sites, podcasts, blogs, video, file downloads, e-mail links, etc.) provided they've been tagged with the appropriate HTML.
During Mr. Kawasaki's demonstration of the program, eBay integration was mentioned and shown. A loop of images for items available on eBay, in this case random Corvettes up for auction, was show. Users could watch the loop in the background via the player, then click on specific images to enlarge them or bring up the specific auction. A picture's worth a thousand words and what scrolls by might be the one shot that makes you reassess your first born's need for a college education in lieu for a new convertible. Changes to film loops can also be tracked via built in RSS support for the program.
FilmLoop is currently advertiser supported and sprinkles in a moderate amount of ads from sponsors such as Hewlett-Packard, Turner Broadcasting System, Photobucket.com, Purina/Nestle and others to pay the bills. The firm received a $5.6 million influx of venture capital from its investors last February and was founded in 2004 by Kyle Mashima (former Vice President of Development for Adobe) and Prescott Lee (the founder of eCircles.com, which reached a subscriber base of three million users before being purchased by classmates.com in 2000), who collaborated on the user interface, art and social networking aspects for the program.
Click on a scrolling picture for enlarged versions of the image.
Currently available as a fully functional Windows client with a Mac OS X beta in development, Mac users are able to download a pre-beta version that behaves well and uses surprisingly few system resources. A full beta will be available next month and the software asks for brief personal and demographic information at first launch. FilmLoop is a 1.4 megabyte download and requires 4.6 megabytes when installed to the hard drive.
There are no guarantees in the software industry, but if there was a program that had a good chance at becoming the next killer application on the Internet, FilmLoop might just be it. This is something completely new with an impressive suite of web technologies built into it, and Guy Kawasaki's support and blessing never hurts where the Mac is concerned. Download it, play with it for an hour and see what you think of it. You might just like what you see.
Finally, keep your eyes open for an updated version of Delicious Library in the next couple of weeks. The geeks at Delicious Monster, who've been knocking Macworld attendees' eyes out all week with their Delicious Library media organization application, have announced a free update to version 1.6.
The update, which will support Apple's Universal Binary standard, will also include a new algorithm to support the reading of blurry bar codes. This algorithm, which was developed in conjunction with the help of astronomers Delicious Monster contacted, was initially designed to help clarify satellite imagery and should help new and current Delicious Library users get the most out of their scanning efforts.
That's all for this week. As always, if you see anything new and cool in the Mac universe, let me know.
Chris Barylick covers games for The Mac Observer, and has written for Inside Mac Games, MacGamer, UPI, the Washington Post, and other publications.
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