On the occasion of the recent Go-Live of www.varycon.com CEO Lars Reinartz and COO Erik Lorenz answer questions about their new software solution.
A few days ago VARYCON was officially launched, and in a few weeks you will present the platform at DMEXCO. How do you feel?
Lars Reinartz: It’s an incredibly exciting time for us. Almost two years of conception and development lie behind us. Now we finally have a product that delivers what we set out to deliver, and we can’t wait to present it to the world.
In a nutshell: What exactly does VARYCON deliver?
Erik Lorenz: The core idea behind VARYCON is – to put it very modestly – to revolutionize the way we produce videos and use them in the communication of companies and brands.
Lars Reinartz: VARYCON makes it easier than ever to change videos, i.e. to internationalize, update or personalize them. Adjustments, for which agencies, time and money were needed in the past, can be implemented within a few minutes with our tool – without video editing know-how and time-consuming coordination with agencies.
Erik Lorenz: With VARYCON each component of a video can be changed and replaced with a few clicks, for example text insertions, photos, the color grading, logos, lower thirds, 3D-visualizations, the music or the voice over. Of course, the actual footage can also be replaced.
Why should you want to replace footage in a video?
Lars Reinartz: There can be many different reasons for this. Maybe a brand wants to convert its summer TV spot into a winter spot for Christmas with little effort, without creating a completely new film. In this case, we create a project template in our content management system and define the variable elements. As Erik has just explained, these can be texts or music, for example, or entire scenes. A completely new film can be created in no time at all. But this is only one of countless conceivable applications.
How did you get the idea that there might be a need for this?
Lars Reinartz: That was completely obvious to us. We have a background in film and media production, having created hundreds of films for companies and brands. In working with our clients, we have encountered similar challenges time and time again.
What were these challenges?
Erik Lorenz: For example, when we worked with a brand’s global marketing team and a how-to film was completed for Facebook, there was often a short moment of joy. But then the real suffering began. Country versions of the film had to be created. Excel spreadsheets were then generated with the text overlays to be filled in by the managers in the countries. These were coordinated and approved with the Global Headquarters. Then the open data of the film had to be requested by the production agency and sent to the countries where the adaptations were made by local agencies. Often, the translated texts collected in the Excel sheets were far too long for the respective scene. The whole process started all over again, including dozens of emails, dropbox links, etc.
Sounds insanely complicated, I know. It was! Each of these steps cost money, time and nerves. And often it never came to the planned international roll-out.
Lars Reinartz: Even if it’s not about an international roll-out, but about a simple adjustment in a video –e.g. if the price, the claim or the product design has changed minimally – the effort is often immense and driven by correction loops, coordination efforts and cost explosions.
Erik Lorenz: In addition to such organizational challenges, there are often far-reaching general shifts that companies cannot influence directly, but have to react to. Moving image is an area of marketing and communication in which a lot is happening, sometimes much more than is obvious at first glance. We have thought a lot about these developments – the transformation of video communication and how companies and brands can deal with it.
Which developments are you talking about?
Erik Lorenz: The pressure to achieve more impact with fewer resources is growing. The demand for moving image content is increasing, but the budget per video is tending to fall.
Lars Reinartz: The age of producing large TV commercials for budgets of millions is coming to an end – with a few exceptions. The vast majority of videos are produced for social channels, which of course also has an impact on production logistics – and often entails immense cost pressure.
Erik Lorenz: Talking about social channels, it is no secret that most people today consume content primarily via social media. As channels have changed, so have usage and viewing habits – towards more serial formats with entertainment factor, authenticity and a focus on relevance. Brands should be able to enter into a credible exchange with their target groups and meet them at eye level. To do this, they must be constantly present, on all relevant channels, with content that is up-to-date and specially geared to their audiences. All in all, this is an immense strategic, creative and monetary challenge.
Why is it that video productions are often still so cost- and time-intensive?
Lars Reinartz: Of course, there are various reasons for this. A high-quality video production has traditionally always been associated with a lot of effort. The same used to apply to first-class websites. This required specialized agencies, talented designers – and high budgets, not least for continuous maintenance. Today there is WordPress. Anyone can build a decent website, even without being a developer. We have seen such democratization in almost all areas of content production over the last ten or twenty years. Just think of bloggers who work as journalists, or podcasters who do their own shows, completely detached from large media houses with costly editorial offices and studios. Nowadays, high-quality photos can be taken with a smartphone and neatly reworked without being a graphic designer or Photoshop expert.
This is somewhat different with videos, especially when it’s not about recording a singular clip, but about spots with cuts, music, animations, etc. The democratization has not yet taken place here. In most cases, videos are still a rigid content package that cannot be broken down and changed so easily. This leads to huge efforts, even if only a small thing has to be adjusted after the video has been finalized.
That’s the status quo as we see it. We believe it’s outdated. And that’s why we start right here.
How far can the effort for creating or adapting a video be reduced with VARYCON?
Erik Lorenz: That depends entirely on the underlying video and the usage scenario. VARYCON is very helpful when it comes to creating numerous versions of a video, for example for A/B testing, personalization for specific customers or even internationalization for different markets. Starting from an underlying template, it is also possible to create completely different videos, e.g. for all products in a web shop.
Generally, our pricing consists of two pillars: Firstly, a fixed monthly fee per video template that is hosted by VARYCON. The price depends on the template’s complexity. The hosting of any template that is no longer needed can be cancelled monthly. Secondly, credits are used for low-res preview and high-quality renderings of video projects. Our credit system is really simple and transparent and allows for precise cost control. There are no additional costs for memberships. Creating new accounts for colleagues from the same organisation is also free.
Lars Reinartz: Clients can sign on for any single video project or a more far reaching custom integration of VARYCON into the IT-systems of any company. The easiest way to figure out how and at which cost VARYCON can be of help is to have a quick phone call with us.
Erik Lorenz: Appointments for a phone call, if desired including a demonstration of VARYCON, can be requested on our website.
Lars Reinartz: Or people can meet us in person at the upcoming DMEXCO!