Gotuit and Lifetime Let Viewers Call the Shots

5/20/08

If you think the director got it wrong, well go ahead and change the movie. That is the basic idea behind a new service, offered by cable television channel Lifetime, using technology developed by Gotuit in Woburn, MA.

Lifetime’s “Movie Mash-up” works like video clip-art. You drag scenes from the channel’s movie library, combine them in whatever order you want, delete unwanted parts, add title cards, and so forth. When you’re finished you can view your mashed-up movie over the Net and share it with the rest of Lifetime’s registered users. The system lets you try to make a whole new story or just make minor adjustments to an existing one, like deleting all the embarrassing sex-on-the-kitchen-floor scenes. (Although from having watched a few of the Lifetime audience’s films, I strongly suspect that their viewers are more likely to add some extra sex.)

Fifteen movies are available for mashing at the channel’s website for the moment, with scenes categorized under topics like “Teen Angst,” “Obsession,” “Crazed Killer,” and “Cheating Hearts.” Lifetime plans to monetize the offering using targeted in-page and in-stream advertising.

Distributing thousands of viewer’s movies over the Internet might seem an extremely complex task—and one that would devour enormous amount of storage and broadband capacity. Gotuit works around that problem by tagging the films in the library with metadata. The mash-up does not actually create a new video, just a new metadata file that describes the video remix, and it is that file you then share with others.

Founded in 2000, Gotuit is privately held and funded by Highland Capital Partners, Atlas Venture, Motorola, and private investors. Its metatagging technology is also used to make video content easier to search, like when Sports Illustrated presented video clips of 200 college football players during the NFL Draft. Better video search will make viewers spend more time at their screens, the reasoning goes, and this in turn will give the publishers more revenue from advertising.

Erik Mellgren is a Swedish journalist who worked for Xconomy Boston in 2008 as part of the Stanford Innovation Journalism Fellowship program. His real job is with Ny Teknik, a leading technology and innovation magazine in Sweden, but he loved seeing the Red Sox at Fenway. Follow @

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