nth-screen-tim-kindbergNth Screen is a revolutionary new social video platform that enables people to film and watch together in sync. When anyone presses record, all the mobile devices connected by the app start recording together.

The captured video can then be used to make a synchronised montage of the videos in a web page. It’s basically, as Bristol-based creator Tim Kindberg puts it, “YouTube Squared”.

The Nth Screen app is for anyone who wants to celebrate and capture togetherness, whether at concerts, skate-boarding sessions, a night out together, weddings or protests. It’s a great way of throwing a new perspective on an event, by letting you view it simultaneously from numerous perspectives.

“Nth Screen is ‘groupies not selfies’: filming together and sharing synchronised videos that play together in an editable mosaic”

 

We caught up with Tim to talk about how he created Nth Screen, who helped, where the company is at the moment, presenting his idea to top innovators at the Innovate UK conference and what’s next for Nth Screen.

Origins of Nth Screen

Tim is no stranger to combining media and technology. As he explains: “I’m a computer scientist turned creative technologist and entrepreneur. I’ve been visiting professor at the University of Bath and ITU Copenhagen. I have 15 years’ experience of industrial R&D in mobile and pervasive computing, including 4 years in Silicon Valley at HP Labs and 5 years recently working as an independent, with film makers, theatre companies and other arts partners.”

“The vision is to provide a new type of social video experience and unleash people’s collective creativity in a new way”

 

With all this experience it’s no surprise that he started out on his own, and equally no surprise that Tim started looking at a video synchronisation app, but what the company’s direction should be wasn’t so clear cut at the start. “I’ve been working with multiscreen one way or another for quite some time,” Tim explains. “Way back when, I used it to illustrate distributed computing algorithms in my PhD. More recently, I did a couple of arts commissions: a multiscreen interactive experience and a multiscreen (multiphone) film.

“For some time I’d been trying to turn pervasive computing technologies into a commercial proposition but the hardware required meant that the economics weren’t working out. They just didn’t scale.

“So I thought: What could people do that’s cool with just their mobile phones, but collectively? I had a Eureka moment: I realised what was in front of my nose – multiscreen.

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“I started making an app and services to play entertaining synchronised videos across your phone and mine. E.g. characters appear on the phones, talk to one another across them, walk or pass things from phone to phone. That was the original Nth Screen idea: synchronised playback. Then the really big idea, of filming together — not just watching together — came serendipitously out of workshops we ran with film makers. The focus moved from professional content to user-generated content.”

Nth Screen today

So Nth Screen had a new focus, but what is the aim of the company today? Tim says: “At a nuts and bolts level, it’s to provide a platform for recording and playing video synchronised collections of videos. At a higher level, the vision is to provide a new type of social video experience and unleash people’s collective creativity in a new way.

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Getting creative: Tim demonstrates Nth Screen

“The easiest way to explain it is ‘groupies not selfies’: filming together and sharing synchronised videos that play together in an editable mosaic. You all make a record of an event or an occasion with friends, and upload to include everyone’s individual viewpoints within the mosaic. It’s a kind of kaleidoscopic view of the world.”

The company is not one man alone, Tim works with “a business consultant, video makers, film academics from UWE, front end, back end and native app developers, and a social media assistant.” All of whom are working on spreading the message about Nth Screen and exploring the app’s various applications.

So what does Tim think the major application is? “Filming yourselves together on social occasions at the pub/club etc. may be the biggest application, but there’s plenty of scope for using Nth Screen for more specific events such as concerts, weddings, conferences and sports. We’ve just been working with skateboarders to film themselves under the M32.”

Nth Screen release date

We were lucky enough to have a play with the Nth Screen app at the SPARKies Awards Tech Showcase (it was shortlisted for the SPARKies 2014 Best App award), but when can everyone else get their hands on it? “We will soon release the app in beta on Android and iOS”, explains Tim. “As soon as the beta is ready, it’ll be available via nthscreen.tv.”

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In-app action: Nth Screen puts you in control of multiple device screens

They have been testing it thoroughly in various ways before the app is released and are working hard to demonstrate its potential to as many people as possible: “We’re engaged in a pilot with BBC iWonder,” says Tim. “And I’m working with agencies to seal a deal with a brand or artist.”

“The BBC iWonder pilot is very exciting. And they’re not the only TV company to show an interest. But equally, when we ran the app with young people in workshops, watching their delight in making multiscreen films together was just as rewarding on a personal level.”

Nth Screen funding and support

Tim has been supported while developing the app via REACT, an organisation that funds collaborations between arts and humanities researchers and creative companies: “I received two rounds of funding from REACT. Their support has been invaluable. It helped not only with the software and business development but by bringing film makers Charlotte Crofts and Mandy Rose on board from UWE.

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A new perspective: Trying out Nth Screen at a workshop at the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol’s Watershed

“We had really useful conversations about what filming together could and should mean, and ran some very informative and successful workshops to try out the ideas.”

Showing off Nth Screen

Tim’s entrepreneurship meant he was invited to demonstrate his app at the Innovate UK event, the yearly conference held by Innovate UK, the UK Government’s innovation agency. Tim was pleasantly surprised by the experience; “It was much better than I thought it might be! I made 100 groupies of people visiting the stand over two days – altogether 400 videos across 4 mobiles and tablets of people smiling, looking amazed, cogs whirring in brains. I received quite a bit of follow-up interest. I also demo’d to rapper M.I.A., of all people.”

“I loved living in London and the Bay Area in their own ways but they’re missing a certain smaller-scale human spark that’s vital”

 

So as Tim has clearly travelled, we wondered if he liked working in the South West. “Very much. It’s the can-do, collaborative attitude of people here. I loved living in London and the Bay Area in their own ways but they’re missing a certain smaller-scale human spark that’s vital.

“I’ve been to research establishments all over the world, and never encountered somewhere that makes tech/arts fusion a reality to the same degree as Bristol’s Pervasive Media Studio”

 

“I’m based in the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol’s Watershed, which represents that in action. I’ve been to research establishments all over the world, and never encountered somewhere that makes tech/arts fusion a reality to the same degree. It’s about making things and experiences together for the public, not merely talking about it.”

We also wondered if there was anyone else he admired in the region. “I admire anyone who has managed to build a successful business from scratch and there are plenty of those,” Tim says. “But it’s doing something really different and therefore going deeper into the unknown that mostly gets my attention. Ultrahaptics is cool. But then there are the more arts-oriented companies using tech as part of their innovations, like Colourstory.

We’d like to thank Tim for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk to us. You can see the latest developments at Nth Screen’s website  and by following @nthscreen on Twitter. And while you are about it how about following us on Twitter too?