Alongside its power to host a gif for every occasion, help avoid forming actual awkward physical connections with people in pubs and enable easy cheating for GCSEs/degrees/wayward spouses, the internet is glorious for its breadth. You name it, you can read about it on the internet – and you can almost undoubtedly see a video of it too. But while this never-ending stream of moving image is a blessing, it can also be a curse. With so much there, it’s incredibly tricky to find something you actually want to watch. It’s a problem digital creative Marc Kremers felt needed addressing, and the catalyst for his creation of new video platform vvatch.
“We’re trying to solve an age old problem: finding good videos to watch. It’s a total drag,” he says. “No matter how good the algorithms are from Netflix, or how much content there is on YouTube, it’s a daunting and laborious process to just watch something good, fast.”
The platform is remarkably simple to use – visitors simply browse various curated channels using the up or down arrow on a computer keyboard, and skipping any content they aren’t into by clicking the right arrow. “It’s a bit like Tinder for videos in that regard,” says Marc.
While it all sounds great, we have to admit an air of cynicsm. A number of sites seem to offer something similar, including the Juice VCR platform:http://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/juice-vcr-video-online-new-music we covered a few months ago. But according to Marc, vvatch isn’t “just another glorified playlist.”
He explains: “In the upcoming first release we’ve figured out a way to make watching videos a ‘live’ experience, like periscope, or conventional TV for that matter. This will make vvatch.tv a collective experience.
“That’s the crucial aspect to this whole thing, it’s a creative platform, similar to Tumblr in some ways. We’re democratising the ability to make TV channels, which as a vehicle for discovery and serendipity has been foolishly forgotten on a lay-by near the superhighway, we think.”
Marc tells us the project came about when he was leading a workshop at the ECAL design school in Lausanne, Switzerland, and wanted to be able to lead an engaging workshop in digital design. The problem he faced was that he found himself trying to teach a project that usually takes months in just five days. “I wanted to do something with as little interface as possible, and push the boundaries of digital interface design,” says Marc. “We talked about more conceptual experiences, and there’s something exciting in that format. I rebuilt the idea a few months ago [which evolved into vvatch], and it’s been a labour of love. But I believed I was onto something.”
Having spoken with friends and other designers, Marc found people to be intrigued by the prospect of being able to programme their own online television platforms. “They get excited about the creative possibilities,” he says. “Digital is so much about making choices, but with vvatch it’ll have the right content so you can guarantee it’ll be good.”
At the moment, the site is in very early “teaser” stages, and while thousands of people have subscribed, users aren’t yet able to upload their own content. Instead, the carefully curated channels have been formed from Marc spending “hundreds of hours” on YouTube. Users will be able to upload their own content within the next couple of months.
“I think it will start to form a very compelling channel,” says Marc. “I wanted to prove to myself that it was possible to have that good content in one place that resonates with a larger audience.” We ask how it’s different to looking at YouTube playlists, especially those curated by designers, artists or record labels you trust. Isn’t it just those, but in another name and newer clothing? Marc says: “Even the YouTube playlists made by interesting people who you trust become like graveyards, they’re so depressing. People, myself included, think they’re going to be super organised and make these playlists but they just get forgotten. vvatch changes the perception of what you can do with a format. We want people to think of it as a creative medium or platform, like Tumblr.”
True to its origins, the look and feel of the site is simple and clean, created in collaboration with designer Damien Poulain.. The colour purple was chosen because “to be honest, we just liked the colour purple,” says Marc, and because Soundcloud and YouTube are characterised by orange and red branding respectively. “We’re all about how much you can do with so little,” says Marc. “The idea of minimal functionality is a really interesting space, all we’ve got is a very Snapchatty look and a universal emoji of a guy surfing. It’s amazing how far you can go with something so simple.”