The new online presentation tool Flektor was born out of a simple observation -- that on the Internet, we live on constant display for others, producing pictures, videos, podcasts, sales pitches on eBay, and other sorts of media to thrill and titillate our friends and strangers. The problem is that most of us don't have access to the tools to make this great. Everyone has a video camera, but a typical video-editing program is expensive, hard to master, and it can't build interactive applications.
Flektor is a fantastically well-made Web-based editing program that has two big selling points: It's free. And it's packed with a great many features that other free editing programs -- the ones bundled with Macs and Windows -- can't do.
The app was created by Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin, co-founders of the video game company Naughty Dog, and Jason Kay, a former HBO exec. Though the program just went live a month ago, it has been in development for a year, and in that time it has already attracted huge pockets -- at the end of May, Fox Interactive, Rupert Murdoch's Internet empire, purchased the firm. The Fox connection could make Flektor huge -- folks on MySpace, Fox's mega-social network, are sure to go nuts over all the wacky ways they can use the site.
Rubin and Kay visited Salon's offices Monday to show off the program. It was an exciting demo, and afterward I got on the site to put together my own "flek" (that's what the Flektor folks call these little movies). In the example below, you'll see I tried to throw in many of the zany video effects that Flektor offers. I put the thing together over several hours:
The advantage of creating a video on Flektor rather than on your home computer is that Flektor comes with hosting: I can put this flek anywhere I'm allowed to add an HTML embedded tag -- on Salon, on a blog, on a MySpace page, on eBay -- or I can e-mail the link to all my friends. Fleks are also interactive -- notice the poll at the end; you can add a viewer chat feature -- and they're updated "live," meaning that any time you change your flek, all instances of it posted anywhere change along with it.
I noticed a couple of small difficulties in using Flektor. The first is uploading -- because Flektor's servers do all of the intensive graphics rendering, you've got to send all your raw materials to the site, and for big files, this could take some time. (Flektor imposes no limit on how many files you send to its servers, though.) Some of the video clips in the flek you see above took as long as minute to get to Flektor. The program is in beta mode, so it's also got a few bugs. I noticed that sometimes the app began to use a great deal of my computer's processing power, and I had to shut down Flektor and start it back up to get it to behave properly. (Any video-editing program, of course, will use a lot of your computer's resources.)
The last problem is YouTube. There is no way to get your fleks on this popular video-sharing site. But Rubin and Kay told me they're working on that. If Google does not allow people to easily upload live fleks to YouTube, Rubin told me, Flektor will offer a way to export fleks to a format that YouTube does accept. If it does that, fleks could be the next big thing.