• Startup Verse Unveils Video Player for Interactive Storytelling

    Founded on the belief that video should be as interactive as web sites and apps, startup Verse formally unveiled its interactive video player today. Verse is intended for any video creator who wants to add interactive elements that create immersive, non-linear experiences for viewers.

    In a briefing last week Verse co-founders Antonio Bolfo and Michael Lanza, plus publisher Dan Bigman explained that they started the company because as filmmakers and journalists themselves they were looking for tools to help them tell their stories more creatively, and couldn’t find the required technology.

    At launch there are 5 main interactive elements that Verse offers:

    Hotspots - a red spot placed on the video timeline indicating an engagement opportunity.

    Pathfinder - opportunities for the viewer to pursue alternative narratives.

    Interactive Q&A - organizes interview content by question.

    Sideshows - augment that allows arrangement of images and video.

    Chapters - organizes content into discrete pieces for non-linear navigation.

    Because it was designed by non-technical people for non-technical people, Verse requires no coding and little technical background. The player can be embedded and shared across devices including desktops and mobile devices including iOS and Android. It’s still early, but the Verse team said they’ve found 60-70% engagement rates by viewers for current projects.

    There are 4 levels of pricing: Verse Creator (includes 30 minutes of monthly storage), Verse Pro ($29.99/mo and includes 90 minutes of storage, premium analytics and support), Verse Business (unlimited storage, customization, advanced support, etc). Verse also provides a talent service that will match creators to projects.

    Verse is primarily a content creator tool for now, and isn’t focusing on how the videos will be monetized, except that links can lead to e-commerce opportunities. Dynamic ad insertion seems like a natural down the road.

    This is an example of a Verse project by the San Francisco Chronicle, which demonstrates many of the capabilities. I haven’t done a hands-on demo with Verse, but it looks like a compelling, easy way for creators to make their videos much more immersive.