If you visited Short of the Week this morning, you might've noticed something a little different. The video aggregator has gone through a major overhaul not only meant to enrich the viewing experience for audiences, but to also make online distribution better for filmmakers.
A new logo, custom video player, and a fully responsive design are just a few things Short of the Week introduced today in their relaunch. This video sums up all of the new stuff you can expect to see on the new site:
But creating a better viewing experience isn't the only reason for the redesign. Short of the Week exists to discover new, exciting pieces of film to showcase them in the place where audiences are gathering to watch content: online. Making the experience of consuming media on the web more simple, responsive, and attractive for viewers will, in the end, benefit the filmmakers who put their content on the web to consume. SOTW's relaunch addresses this.
We had the chance to talk to Founder and Managing Director of Short of the Week Andrew Allen about the new site, the changing landscape of online video consumption, and how SOTW is geared to help filmmakers tackle online distribution.
NFS: We're super excited about the redesign! What spurred it on?
Andrew Allen: The previous design was something I’d built myself about 4 years ago. The web technology landscape has changed a lot since then and can finally better support some of the big ideas we’ve been exploring. With the new Short of the Week, we set out to build the best viewing experience on the web. For the first time, filmmakers can display their work in a full screen browser experience that works across every device. This means fans can watch your films on their laptops, phones, and TVs wherever they are and the viewing experience is as simple as turning on a TV. We can also do more now to anonymously track a viewer’s taste and recommend the right film at the right time. This means that if you’re a fan of dark comedy, you can start on one film and we can build a dynamic playlist for you based on your tastes that continuously plays from one to the next without you realizing it.
NFS: How has online viewing changed since the early days of YouTube?
AA: We’ve been around for 8 years and have seen two big changes since the early days of web video. The first is quality. We’ve gone from small, often sub-standard definition videos to full 1080 HD and that’s made a big impact on how immersive a film can be. The second is that 2015 will mark the year in which the majority of videos are watched on a mobile device. This means that not only are people watching more films, but they’re watching them in shorter bites when they have a spare moment on their way home from work.
NFS: How will the new custom player, and the whole site in general, help filmmakers distribute their work online easier?
AA: The web can be a scary place for filmmakers if you don’t know what you’re doing. We’re filmmakers ourselves and took an early plunge by launching our own film on the web a few years ago. Even with high expectations, the response we got from the media, fans, and the film industry floored us. Since then, we’ve seen it happen over and over again to thousands of filmmakers. We believe that the next generation of filmmakers will come from the web, and we’re seeing it happen right now. Producers, managers, and agents are all now closely watching Vimeo and YouTube to find the next great voice. The challenge for filmmakers is standing out from the crowd. Short of the Week is about discovering and featuring the very best of those new voices -- the undiscovered filmmakers trying new approaches to tell stories we’ve never seen before. We also take submissions from filmmakers. But we’ve always hated the festival submission process, so we built a new process to work the way we think it should be done. This means we decide quickly -- within 7 days -- and with our response, we actually give filmmakers notes about what we think works and what doesn’t. The funny thing is we find that a lot of filmmakers submit just for the feedback, because it can be very difficult to get an expert opinion on your film.
NFS: Can you tell us about what's in store for SOTW in the future? Any big plans?
AA: Today we also just announced our annual Short of the Week Awards 2015. This is our annual honoring of the very best films from the past year—the best comedy, animation, documentary, and drama. Every year, the quality of films gets stronger and stronger. We think every film this year easily gives the Oscar-nominated short films a run for their money. And the great thing is that you can actually watch these! They’re online for free -- just come on over to Short of the Week.
A big thanks to Andrew for taking the time to talk with us. Make sure to take a look at Short of the Week's newly designed site, and if you have your own films you'd like to see on SOTW, you can submit them here.