Magisto: The machine-generated creativity you're looking for?

In an effort to democratize the creative process around video, Magisto moves into the business-to-business arena.

Charlie Chaplin
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There is an attitude in the technology space that startups should look to automate every time-consuming or mundane process. Sick of doing laundry? A web service will do it for you. Not keen on vacuuming? The Roomba solves your issues.

These examples, while telling a sad tale of humanity's laziness, at least remove an arguably low-level and mundane task. But what of automating creativity -- can you, and should you?

That is exactly what Magisto is setting out to do. The company has what it calls a "smart video storytelling application." What that means in English is that using Magisto, customers can upload video and imagery, choose a theme and a soundtrack and, only a few minutes later, have a complete video to use.

The company, which recently decided to branch out into the business space with the imaginatively titled "Magisto for Business," suggests that the videos produced are the result of the application of Magisto's "Artificial Intelligence Engine," which has "Emotion Sense Technology," apparently. The company suggests that its platform automatically analyzes and edits raw footage into movies optimized for emotional impact.

So I gave it a go. I uploaded some random photos of my family and I trekking in Nepal and a video of a street musician in New York. I made four different videos, each with different layout options and music choices. As promised, a few moments later a link arrived in my email box to my completed Magisto videos. Which were . . . OK I guess.

While Magisto is at pains to talk about the analytics it applies to the problem space, all I could see were a handful of templates which Magisto then dumps individual users' photos and videos into.

I spent time talking with Magisto co-founder Oren Boiman who went into detail about just how contextual Magisto's engine is and how it reacts to changes in the source content, in the focus of the video, and in the choice of layouts and music. I had to take his word for it -- I wasn't seeing massive amounts of context in the sample videos I made but, to be fair, they were quick, off-the-cuff attempts.

Magisto was at pains to prove to me that it does have an A.I. element to its offering, telling me about the company's Emotion Sense Technology, which "gives control to the user and increases the usability of the finished movie." Hmmmm.

So, where to start?

My wife is an artist. It is an endless source of fascination to me just how much time she and her artist friends spend experimenting, conceiving and finally producing their work. While it runs counters to the current demand for instant gratification, there is a certain quality that comes with the time taken to ruminate over a creative endeavor.

In the video space, it's the reason that 90SecondsTV, a global startup which offers a video creation platform, is proving so successful. Rather than trying to automate the creative process, 90Seconds offers an excellent collaboration and workflow management platform and a marketplace of video production professionals globally who are ready to perform jobs.

My existential issue with Magisto is this one of creativity. Even if Magisto does offer users the ability to create beautiful and impactful videos it would still be sad if the creative process was reduced down to a simple API call and the application of a few algorithms.

I'm not completely sold on Magisto and, frankly, I hope, for the sake of the world, that the creative process remains predominantly a human-based one. That said, I have to agree that assuming Magisto truly allows businesses to create impactful videos more easily and quickly than before, maybe there is a place for it. The video embedded below is an example of what Magisto can do.

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