I have been patiently waiting for my chance to get a look at the new service, FilmLoop. I received it a little while back and have been using it on and off and now it now appears that FilmLoop has released the beta version on their site, so make sure to grab a copy if you are interested in it (Windows only for now). According to TechCrunch, “FilmLoop is a winner,” and I too agree. Most will relate FilmLoop to Slide, but FilmLoop definitely does have it’s differences that stand out. With FilmLoop, individuals or businesses can broadcast digital content and allow for sharing and searching of their content through FilmLoop’s photo broadcasting network. It is perfect for families, groups, businesses, keeping up with the news, advertising, showing off your photography, etc., and what I love is that you can create collaborative loops. You can create your own film loop, share it, and your friends can add on to it.

The screenshot above is the FilmLoop’s main interface. When it starts up, it will load the bar with all loops that you are subscribed to and that you set to be shown. Now, you may be asking, what exactly is a loop? You can think of a loop as a string of photos that moves across the users screen (scrolls left or right) that can be a private or public loop or a loop you have been invited to. Users can then “communicate” with the loop by subscribing, commenting, and even adding to the loop. The interface for displaying the loops is a small and uncluttered strip using gray, black, and blue colors which actually seems to help keep the focus of the strip the photos. At the bottom of the strip are the options, loop controls, and a slider so you can quickly scan through all your loops. One thing that I would like to see for the interface would be a way to control the speed of the scrolling. At times I feel it is too slow or too fast. You also can skip directly to the next or previous loop by click on the next and previous buttons that look much like an media player. I do feel that when going pressing the next and previous buttons, it skips too fast to the loop and brings on a little confusion. I feel that if they can integrate a smooth sliding inertia type effect to the loop, it would make it a whole better.

Creating your own loop is extremely simple. Open FilmLoop and click on the “create” button located at the bottom left of the strip. You will then be asked to name your loop and when you click, “OK,” it will then skip to your new loop with a graphic saying to click and drag the photos you want in the loop onto the graphic (inside your loop, in other words). You can also click on it to bring up an open dialog. In the screenshot above, you can see that I opened a folder of photos. I can then simply drag one at a time into the loop or even select multiple and drag them all in at once. Once you drag them in you will notice each one appearing one after another. When you put a photo in a loop, it is actually storing the photo onto a secure FilmLoop server, explaining why they do not appear immediately. Once the photos are in you can start setting actions to each photo and even share your loop. Just a note about sharing: If you invite others to use your loop, they can also click and drag photos into your loop and it will update the loop, which is an excellent feature and really livens the social aspect of FilmLoop. Inviting is also very easy. You simply click on the “invite” button at the bottom of FilmLoop, select a loop from the list, fill in some email addresses, add a message, and send. They will receive the invite by email and can then subscribe to your loop and download FilmLoop if they haven’t yet.

Now lets talk about something even more interesting, the loops and loop actions. Each photo in a loop has what FilmLoop calls, actions. You can set an action to show more details of a photo, go to a website, open another loop, bring up a comment area, and more. At default, when you create your own loop, photos will use the Zoom View, which is how you can view details on a photo, view descriptions, comments, and other options. But if you were to subscribe to, lets say, a news loop. The loop will most likely show photos based on the news and on clicking a photo, it would direct you to the news article in relation to the photo.

(View Larger Screenshot)

When you click on a photo that has the action set to, Zoom View, a window will open that looks similar to the above (Larger Screenshot). A Zoom View window will show you the photo at a bigger size, descriptions, tags for the loop, comments, and options for printing, saving, rotating and deleting. If you are the creator of the loop, you will also be able to change descriptions and manage the comments. The comment system is very basic but gets the job done. Comments will be shown on the top right and along with the name of the commenter. You can also click on the fullscreen option that will show the photo in full screen and allow you to browse through the photos in the loop like a slideshow.

I have explained the basics of the FilmLoop interface, what loops are, and how to create your own loops. But you cannot fully experience FilmLoop until you view the broadcast network. To view the network, open FilmLoop and select, “Network,” which is located at the bottom of the strip. It will then open a new window called the “Loop Organizer.” On the left column, you will see a list with selection for the network, your library, now playing, and other folders or playlists if you rather. If you clicked on the network button on the FilmLoop strip, you should see the network selected on the left and on the right a page that is your method of finding loops. On the top of the page are a list of categories that you can select to view, such as public, humor, news, places, sports, etc.. Below this you will see a nicely layed out page with photos about various hot topics and news. When you click on the any of these photos, it will subscribe you to the loop and show all the photos in the FilmLoop strip. If you don’t like it, you can easily ubsubscribe by right clicking and choosing unsubscribe. I want to look for specific loops though and at the time, I was interesting in humor. So, I selected the Humor tab at the top. It then directs you to a page that lists all of the loops in the humor category. Selecting a loop will subscribe you to it and load it into the strip. If there are a large amount of loops, it will split them up into pages, which you can select at the bottom of the page. I feel that this method of showing all the loops is rather hard to search through and even though they are placed in the specific categories. They need to incorporate some type of search bar at the top that you can search through all loops. They also allow you to add tags to your loops that you create, but I do not see any way of searching by tags anywhere. I would really like to see a page for a tag cloud. Other than that, the only other issue I saw was that the cartoon, Dilbert, was nowhere to be found and I could not even make a search for it.

Now that you know how to subscribe to loops, lets take a look at unsubscribing, organizing, and hiding loops. Simply open up the network window again and as stated above, you can select to see your library on the left. Click on, “My Library” will show everything you have created, been invited to, or subscribed to. Each loop that is listed will show if the loop is playing, what the loop is called, who the creator is, and the last time it has been updated. If you do not want to show a loop on FilmLoop but still wish to subscribe to it, click on the loop and then select, “Stop Playing,” at the bottom of the window. You will now see that the loop will not be shown anymore in the strip, but still visible your library. You can also right click on a loop to easily invite people, unsubcribe from it, or set it to play again. The “Now Playing” folder will show all loops that you have allowed to be shown on your loop. If you decide to hide one, it will not show that loop in this folder. You can also see loop that you have created or loops that you have subscribed to two by selecting their folders. If you do not like to view all of the loops this way, you can create your own folders and click and drag loops inside of them. The only thing that I have been doing really is just subscribing and unsubscribing.

Another thing that I want to mention is that you can link to your loops from your website. If you go the “What Is FilmLoop?” section from the FilmLoop website, you will see on the left three scrolling loops. You can actually make those for your own loops as well and insert them on your site, which I find is really great. Perfect if you own a photography website. To do this, go to your loop in FilmLoop and right click it. Then select, “Web/Blog Link.” You will then see a button that says, “Copy HTML.” Click on that and then just paste the code in your site. That’s all to it!

Overall, FilmLoop is great. It is feature packed, you can subscribe to your favorite loops, create your own, and even collaboratively work on a loop. I haven’t run into any bugs yet and the performance is surprisingly well with a memory usage much less then many other applications I have running. I hope for the best of luck for FilmLoop and feel that it will be very successful. FilmLoop has already raised $5.6 million in from two Silicon Valley Venture Capital firms: GlobeSpan Capital Partners and Garage Technology Ventures and it seems that the company has some high expectations. Hope they meet them. Great work, FilmLoop.

View FilmLoop – Are you in the loop?

2 Comments on “Get in the Loop – FilmLoop.”

  1. medmusings says:

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