How software is about to eat online video

And why it’s going to be delicious.

Software is eating the world, right?
We all see it happening. Big data, almost infinite scalability, clever automations… but what about the creative fields like design, illustration & advertising?
Have those already been eaten? Is software going to ingest the creativity lying behind them?

As owner of a creative studio specialised in startup storytelling, I’ve been struggling around topics like this for a while.
Almost everyone we work for have a business model based on scalability. What about us? Can a video concept scale up?

Can an algorithm substitute me? Can a machine do part of my work?

At some point, those are reasonable questions for everyone building a digital product. Can software do a better job than a human being?
Software is great at doing many things humans are definitely not good at.
But the opposite is also true. And that’s mainly the case when we focus on creation.

Years will go through before we’ll see an algorithm write a good story, draw an illustration that you’d hang in your living room or animate a character making us willing to hug the screen as we watch it.

At Illo we’ve been thinking many times about where our value lies exactly. Quantity or quality? Should we embrace the industrial revolution and start producing videos on the assembly line, or consider them as prototypes and build them as a craftsman would do with a unique piece of furniture?

Until now, we have been choosing craftsmanship.

I know this may sound strange in an era where scalable products are so popular, but we believe internet (and our clients) deserve the best possible content: unique, ironic, beautiful.

That’s what we’re good at doing… we don’t want to fill up the web with
pre-built designs and animations made by some software that can just repeat itself over and over. A diamond is worth a thousand stones, and Content Marketing trends agree on that.

But there is something extremely creative in software too. Coding is creativity at the highest level. Coming from an engineering school, code is in our DNA.
We know that online video is going to be revolutionised by software and we want to be among the first to dive into this fascinating world.

This is what’s happening:

While ideation is still a human domain, software is starting to interfere with how the content is produced, customising it on the go, to make it fresh and more meaningful.

Take Look back by Facebook as an example.

For the 10th anniversary a serie of teams within the company put up a video that reached almost each active user of the product, showcasing the best moments (photos, posts, events) happened in their Facebook life. It’s extremely interesting reading how this worked behind the scenes on their blog. Basically they’ve created a template that was later filled with user content, generating more than a billion customised videos in just a few weeks. (they later substituted the video with an interactive version)

Iconosquare (former Statigram) is also doing something close,

allowing users to ask for a custom video of their most liked Instagram pictures (or more recently, a recap of their Instagram year). Similar concepts, different user experience.

IBM has taken a step forward,

using live data from sport events like the US Open tennis tournament, they generated 15 sec long videos that were published in real time on their Instagram account, showcasing all the stats about players and scores for each match. This is completely different because there’s no user generated content involved: the animation template was handmade, and then deployed by the data.

In another field (webdesign), The Grid is also embracing this attitude, as they’re willing to create websites that adapt themselves through user testing (although there’s no live example yet of their technology, as far as I know).

There are more examples of this trend, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Although every new tech trend needs to be embraced with balance (we probably don’t want to see a customised video of our electricity bill, yet), we feel this is a fundamental shift and that our industry is going to be shaken.

That’s why we’re turning our creative studio into more of a tech company ☺

That’s why we’re building a platform that will allow us to experiment this field, combining the best of the two worlds: handmade beautiful illustrations & animations and the power, scalability, freshness and customisation that only data can provide.

If you want to know more, recommend this article & follow us @illotv or get in touch at