Ever wondered how to create professional-quality videos without the hassle of human intervention? Join us as Gary Pageau of the Dead Pixels Society explores the world of automated video creation with Neb Savicic, one of the founders of Plainly. Savicic shares the story behind Plainly's birth and how they developed a system for photo studios to generate stunning videos using their existing assets, integrating seamlessly with various eCommerce solutions. We also discuss the impact of the pandemic, leading to widespread acceptance of digital products, and how Plainly identified key markets using SEO techniques.
In this conversation, Savicic reveals the cost structure of partnering with Plainly's platform and the warm reception they received at SPAC earlier this year. We go deeper into how Plainly can collaborate with volume photography companies to produce eye-catching videos quickly and cost-effectively, offering an unparalleled product to clients.
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Hosted and produced by Gary Pageau
Edited by Olivia Pageau
Announcer: Erin Manning
Welcome to the Dead Pixels Society podcast, the photo imaging industry's leading news source. Here's your Gary Pageau. The Dead Pixels Society podcast is brought to you by Mediaclip, Advertek Printing and IP. Labs.Gary Pageau:
Hello again and welcome to the Dead Pixel Society podcast. I'm your host Gary Pageau, and today we're joined by Neb Savicic, who is one of the three founders of Plainly, and he's coming to us from Serbia today. Hi Neb, how are you today?Neb Savicic:
Hey, Gary, i'm awesome. Thank you so much for having me on.Gary Pageau:
So one of the things we like to do in the podcast here is to introduce people to kind of people doing new and innovative things. Plainly is a relatively new company kind of entering into the photo imaging marketplace, but what is it that you're actually doing?Neb Savicic:
Yeah, so Plainly has been around for around three years, and you're right when you say that we are entering the school photography market right now, and the thing our software does it helps. Photo studios use their images and create videos automatically, so studios are able to take the assets that they already have, which are these awesome images, insert them into templates, and create videos, such as, you know, rotation videos, proofing videos, presentation videos, all that kind of stuff. And best thing here is that all this is done automatically, so photo studios are a video for each student they photograph, which is with zero work.Gary Pageau:
So where's the genesis of the company? You've been around three years, but you're relatively new to the industry. What's the company? What was the idea that, hey, we can take care of this problem of creating great videos without a lot of human interaction?Neb Savicic:
Yeah, that is a great question. So before Plainly, I was a motion designer. I was creating these videos manually. I was working freelance for a lot of large consulting companies And one day I was like I'm creating a lot of videos that look pretty similar. There has to be a better way for me to spend my time. And that was the genesis of the idea, where I teamed up with my co-founder co-founders Ivan and Daniel, and we were like let's make a tool that allows businesses and people to create thousands and thousands of videos just from one single template. And that's when we created Plainly.Gary Pageau:
So you have a video background and you have sort of that visual aesthetic of knowing what a good video looks like. How did you train your system to pick your brain, to learn how to do this? Was there like an electrode that went in your head, or what was the process there?Neb Savicic:
That process was very iterative. We didn't come up with the current version of Plainly right from the start. So me and my co-founders, we sat down and we looked at the video creation process. How does the video creation process looks when you do it manually, and especially when you have to create a lot with when you're creating this video, while keeping in mind that you potentially will create versions of this? So we kind of sat down, mapped out that process and created an automated version of this process through software, and that I have to say thanks to my co-founders for this, because that's what they do. They did I have zero work. I was, i had zero work with development. I'm not a technical person. So they just did their magic and boom, Plainly came out.Gary Pageau:
So where did you start when you started to identify markets to approach? Because you came up with what you thought was a solution to a problem which was for you You identify as more of a workflow problem, not a demand problem, because you know people who bought videos, because the video world is exploding, but I mean, i've tried to use motion. Where did you say, okay, these are the opportunities we're going to go after first, because you've been to other places before you came to school.Neb Savicic:
Photography Yeah, so when we started out playing, our first sort of marketing channel was SEO, and we used SEO and we used Inbound as a signal to find the markets that we should enter, because videos are a thing that can be used by a lot of people.Erin Manning:
A lot of industries, sure.Neb Savicic:
So trying to find a market out of thin air wouldn't be productive. That's why we spend some time and invested some time and money into SEO in order to build an online presence, in order to enable businesses that need video animation a way to find us while we were developing our product Right. So, with SEO and 3Inbound, photo Studios started coming to our website, started looking the calls, and that's when we realized that photo industry actually has this big problem, where they have a lot of work, they have a lot of beautiful images and they need a way to create another product to offer to their clients and to offer something different, because you can only create so many mugs and t-shirts or whatever.Gary Pageau:
Something limited number of mugs and t-shirts, but I also think you're addressing a category that has been growing over the last few years. That's right, like COVID, which is the digital product that I think is more acceptable now than has been in the past and because, as we were talking before the show, people have been trying to do this in this market for a long time, but in terms of timing, in terms of acceptance in the marketplace of video content as a product, i think you're hitting a sweet spot.Neb Savicic:
That's right, you're 100% right. We kind of caught this wave of a video being more accepted and asked for by the market And also the photo studios started seeing video as a potential opportunity. Right, so that's the way we are currently writing And that's why we are seeing a lot of photo studios accepting videos. And the thing is, once they accept the video as a potential digital product that they can sell or use, they then realize how hard it is to make videos and especially how hard it is to create tens of thousands of videos or thousands of videos. Yeah, and that's where we come into picture. Yeah, because everybody- can do one. Of course.Gary Pageau:
It's a good matter of if you're a lab and you're shooting or a studio and you're shooting. You know 80 to 100 schools, Yeah, yeah, Thousands of videos potentially.Neb Savicic:
And even when I like we get a client that are like, yeah, we need to create 100 videos And it's not worth it, like here are alternative solutions. We're like I literally point them to alternative solutions And I'm like these are better bang for your buck, like you're going to get more value if you, if you choose these alternatives, which are local solutions like, for example, plugins or like smaller products that you can use and set up quickly. If you are a school that needs tons of thousands of videos or thousands of videos, it's not humanly possible to make that amount of videos. You know it would I mean it is, but it would take probably months. The studio would be over. Yeah, the videos wouldn't be useful.Gary Pageau:
So talk a little bit about the process a school lab or Porter studio would use, plainly for, like, do they just drag folders of videos into the cloud and you guys work your magic, or is it a plug into an existing system or what's the process that you're working on now?Neb Savicic:
Yeah, so the process consists out of three steps. The first one is the video template. The video template is created in Adobe After Effects and that can either be handled handled by the client or it can be done by us. we have a template of. we have a library of different templates that can be used, but if the plan wants something special, something that is unique to their brand or unique to their company, they can. they can create a custom template using after effects And after effects. it's an industry standard tool. Every designer knows how to use it, and that's the reason we're using after effects is because it's an industry standard tool. You don't have to learn anything new in order to create these templates, right? And then the second part is actual creation of the workflow, and this also can be either done by a client or by us, and plainly basically has an API that can plug into various eCommerce solutions, or you can plug into a Google Sheets or a Google Drive or whatever. So plainly takes your customer data, meaning your images, the school name, the student name, if you have student names, and it will automatically insert the data that you supply to the template. And that integration between the data and the template is done on a case to case basis. So no, like there are no two use cases that are the same you know, every company has a different process and that's why we build this API, which is really easy to set up and it's really flexible. It can take the data from whatever source you want and it can send the data, send the finished videos, to whatever source you want, meaning that you can easily send the videos directly to your customers. You can add the videos to your e-commerce solution. You can add the videos to your website. You can do it with the videos whatever you want. It's not just like oh, here is the video, you can just download the video from our app.Gary Pageau:
Talk a little bit about the video creation process. Is it actually going through the content? Let's say there's maybe 50 pictures, 100 pictures, and it's creating a video from that, And can you ingest also maybe clips of an athlete's career into that and it will create something new and exciting.Neb Savicic:
Yeah, so the type of elements you can swap out, that you can dynamically replace within, plainly are not just images, it's also text, it's also video, it's also audio colors. You can even swap out scenes, whole scenes of video, and for the template creation the user just creates an instance of the video. One instance of the video that's going to be automated And then plainly you can imagine plainly being as a human that just goes and swaps out parts of the video, inserts the data that you provided And it's basically doing the thing that I did manually years back. But it's like a robot that never sleeps, it doesn't eat, it runs 24-7, and it creates these unique videos based on your data and the template you set up.Gary Pageau:
So, just so I understand it, with my understanding of the volume photography market, you could, for example, a port studio could set up a template based on a school with the school colors, the school logo, and then within that you can have variations on every student, every team, every group. So, for example, you could use the same large template for the school And then within that maybe there would be a video for an individual student or a club or a sporting team, for example.Neb Savicic:
You can even go broader than that. Let's say you do graduations And you could just create a graduation video, a graduation template, and then use plainly to adapt that template and dynamically replace elements such as school logo, school colors. If that school has a song or something, you can dynamically swap out the school song And then also, on top of that, personalize that video to each student. So all you have to do is create one instance of that video that's generic And then our tool is going to personalize that video to each student.Gary Pageau:
Now the selection of the content has to be done prior to that. You're not picking the pictures or you're not saying if you want to do a personalized video of a graduation, do you actually go through and pick out each individual student and personalize that? Is that possible, or does that have to be pre-selected using the data fields?Neb Savicic:
Yeah, so the data that's going to go inside of the video has to be pre-selected. So you would have to have a structure set of data that you pre-select it, that you add it to this we call it the data source, a point from which Plain will pull out the data, and that data has to be structured.Gary Pageau:
I mean, plain doesn't have Well, my photographers know how to do that, of course. That's what they do every day, yeah, so it's not that big of a barrier to do that, so you don't even have to do that work yourself.Neb Savicic:
But you can also do is you can. You can make the user do that work. I mean, you can prompt the user and you can be like okay, here are all the pictures we took of your kid. Select which images you want and we'll insert those images into a video So the user can do that work. You don't have to do any of them to work.Gary Pageau:
Well, there are tools out there that are doing that now, that are being integrated into other people's systems, where that selection process is happening, where it's matching up the customer data with the child's picture, even in the candid pictures for the yearbooks, and then it could be it's one step further to create a personalized video yearbook, and I'm doing air quotes with the same content. But you're creating an entirely new product, which I think is exciting. So what's the deliverable? What do the schools give to the parents or the students, because this is something they can download or they have to stream it? What is it generated on the fly every time, or is there a finished product? What is created?Neb Savicic:
So Plainly, generates these videos on the fly and the end user gets an MP4 file, basically a video that they can upload to their social media. They can send this video via SMS to their parents, to their grandparents, and there is a lot of things that you can do with these videos, but mainly from our experience, people are just sharing these in social media because, they're super engaging. They're very versatile And the market today is very used to short form video, so you will be giving them something that's perfect for today's world.Gary Pageau:
Let's talk about the monetization side. The market has grown to accept the fact that you can pay for bits, whereas I think when many of these services were tried out back in the day going back to the late 2008 or 2009 or that period when people were starting to play with this sort of technology the idea was that it was a value add. It's something I can throw on because it's digital, but because I don't expect people to buy it. But I think that attitude's changing. Are you seeing that from your customers in the school market as well, that they're saying, yeah, this is something I can charge for?Neb Savicic:
It kind of depends on the type of the video. So if you're doing something that's a 30 seconds slide show, I think the market is still not ready to pay for that. But, if it's a two minute video that incorporates all of the images, if it's like a nice presentation of all the images you've taken, then it kind of makes sense to pay because it's a two minute video. But still, in our experience, what we are seeing is that studios are using this either like a financial incentive to buy a higher price package or like an add-on. But the thing here is that these videos, because they're automated, because they involve zero manual work, they're super cost effective, Which means that you can kind of use them as marketing costs And it's not gonna break the budget because they're automated. And that's why there is a lot of room for calculations and different types of different ways to offer this video, not just sell them outright as a digital product.Gary Pageau:
So let's talk a little bit about the cost is for the lab user side. I want to do this. What am I looking at? I mean, in a ballpark I know everyone's different, it's going to you know, but it's just in general. Obviously it's not free, so there is a marketing cost involved. There is a cost, yeah, yeah. So you're really talking about attaching yourself to either a lab's marketing budget or their production budget as a product.Neb Savicic:
Yeah, that's right, and the good thing is about these videos is they are costing you around $1 per video. Okay, and this is, it's a monthly subscription. We have a few different pricing packages, pricing tiers, but a rule of thumb is around $1 per video, or you know somewhere in that range?Gary Pageau:
And is there a cost to integrate with your platform? or do they just pick up the API stuff and they customize it and go to town?Neb Savicic:
Yeah, everything is included in that price. I mean the cost structure. Of course there are integration costs. Yeah, if the customer decides that they want they need our help. So our platform can be as self-serve or as managed as possible. Like, if you decide you can do everything on your own, you're just going to pay for the cost of video. But if you need our help with integration or with the templates, of course they're going to be added costs. But generally, after that setup and after the integration, you're not paying for the API, you're not paying for any additional features, you're just going to be paying for the cost of the video.Gary Pageau:
Okay, well, that makes sense And that's reasonable. Again, one of the things that I think is important is a lab or a studio who's looking at doing this has to understand what their marketing objective is. Of course, yeah, whether it's a marketing cost or it's an actual product cost, because that's going to determine, you know, not only what budget it comes out of, but how they promote it and how they use it to sell it. Yeah, yeah, of course, this is very cool. So you went to a major trade show earlier in the year. Spac is sort of your introduction to the marketplace. What was your first impression of the school photography? people Like who. What was the reception that you got?Neb Savicic:
Oh my God, Gary, it was awesome. Honestly, the people we met and just the conversations we had were awesome. Everybody was super nice, super receptive of us And we had a lot of interest during the show. A lot of people because we were one of the sponsors there, we had a booth and there was a lot of interest and a lot of people came by our booth because we are something new and exciting that's in the market and something that a lot of people have thought of. A lot of people think about video. A lot of people are trying to find a way to create videos in a cost effective and scalable way, and when they saw our banner which says automated video production, everybody was everybody was super excited. So, overall, SPAC was awesome. We can't wait to come again next year And, of course, we are for sure going to be attending more conferences in the photo industry this year.Gary Pageau:
So if somebody wanted more information about Plainly or learning to partner with the company, how do you suggest they get in touch with you? Where do you want them to go?Neb Savicic:
Yeah, so there is two ways. You can either go to plainlyvideoscom, which is our website You can find more information there. You can book a call with me or, if you wish, you can message me directly to my email, which I think we're going to put in the show notes, but my email is neb at plainlyvideoscom, which is short version of my name at plainlyvideos, which is our website.Gary Pageau:
Awesome, well, great Neb, it's great to meet you. I'm very excited to see where you go. Welcome to the school photography industry and best wishes for future success.Neb Savicic:
Thank you, Gary, thank you so much And thank you for having me on. This was a super interesting conversation And, yeah, thank you so much.