Can you help us fail?

VideoScribe was born out of failure. Learning to fail quickly was the best business lesson I could have had. Now, looking beyond VideoScribe, I need your help. Where should we fail next?

I spent four years, working every hour I could, making things no-one wanted. What a fantastic learning experience that few have the time or space to go through mid-career.

My journey was the start of a lifetime quest to explore how to empower anyone with a message to engage an audience. I learnt to fail. Fail quickly.  

My first idea took 18 months and was developed in top secret conditions. No one knew what magic was happening behind closed doors. The day came to release this genius to the world – and the world ignored it.  

It didn’t get a single user.  

I guess I was lucky. This learning is hard to teach, especially to someone like me. I only believe something once I’ve experienced it for myself.

My next project failed within only six months. Then three. Then six weeks, and so on. Until the development of VideoScribe.

The app that lived

VideoScribe took about three weeks to develop in the first instance. It was a viable product that saved me from financial ruin and has wonderfully empowered a lot of people to engage their audience – and indeed it continues to do so. Of course, it’s now had endless hours of development time and care invested in it.

Why is VideoScribe so successful? There's no question it’s an addictive medium, watching someone draw.

And metaphor works. VideoScribe encourages both metaphor and storytelling.

The best (most engaging) scribes we see don’t use much text. They either have a well constructed script or a recorded lecture and they have one clear point that’s either being explained or illustrated with a story.  

Yet I'm not sure we know all the reasons that VideoScribe succeeds.

In fact, I've learnt that having all the answers doesn’t work. Asking the right questions is much more powerful.

And the question I have right now is: what should we fail at next?

Where do we go from here?

We’re continuing at Sparkol with the quest to empower as many people as possible to engage their audiences. This will result in apps, websites, products, books, articles, images, research, ideas, lectures and more.

We know about keeping it short, restricting text, using story and making it personal. But taking this deeper and translating it into a suite of products that truly empower you to get your message heard by your audience – that’s the future for us.

But we need your ideas.

With every bit of learning strapped to my back, we’re going to develop lots of small projects quickly, that prove ideas and concepts to move this mission forward. Projects looking at ideas, image, sound, video, presentation, story, metaphor – anything engaging.

Open, collaborative – and with your help.

We don’t want to build an empire. We want to see as many people as possible empowered when they need to tell their story.  

So, what do you think? What have you seen lately that’s engaging audiences? What tools would empower you to engage your audience specifically?

Please share your ideas below, or on Facebook and Twitter.

Help us to fail quickly.



Geoff Hyde - 10/5/2015 5:07 AM

This race to diversify might explain all the issues videoscribe has. It needs so much fixing -- more than enough to focus on. Maybe start by considering shifting Videoscribe from Flash to javascript, as Prezi did it in 2014. Prezi used to be buggy too, but not almost as much as VS, and could cope with presentations of more than 20 elements without going into spinning beachball mode. For the Prezi development story: https://medium.com/prezi-engineering/how-and-why-prezi-turned-to-javascript-56e0ca57d135

acass - 1/12/2015 2:06 PM

Hello Jon! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxzEFh8TVjs This NEEDS a tutorial. Please post asap. This is a lovely direction in storytelling. It is the kind of art in Scribes we intend to explore. As artists the best most memorable Scribes will be those that present the viewer with unique art. Thanks so much. www.donaldcassity.com

David Haynes - 12/17/2014 9:34 PM

Love to be able to add an image as a background and be able to specify the screen size at the start of the project before exporting as a video etc.

Daniel Somos - 12/17/2014 4:31 PM

For a program that costs more than Adobe Premier VideoScribe is pretty good at failing

Fasching Gregor - 12/17/2014 10:14 AM

I bought Videoscribe software approx. 2 weeks ago. To justify the price of USD 580.-- I have paid, the software needs to be improved a lot.
Negative Points:
- file handling: only thumbnails per project. Information like file name, date, time missing. only visible when pointing on it or not visible at all (date, time)
- no "Undo" Function
- WMV rendering function does not work properly.
- "Eye Off"-function only works for one slide at once. When replaying a single slide all hidden slides are shown again.
- Sounds are not so appealing. I think only a few are really usable in business life.
- Vector graphics: some are not very elaborated (however, much better in the 2.1 beta version)
- Multiple objects on the canvas cannot be resized to the same size in one go
- Camera concept is cumbersome. Need to go through again and again to make sure everything is properly sized and nothing is zoomed in or out
- Character spacing not correct (seems to be a general problem with any font)
- Changing the font in a text object defaults its size to minimal. Therefore resizing required.
Thank you, Gregor

Johannes van Staveren - 12/16/2014 10:22 PM

- Bug report: My laptop continuously failed to export a 3,5 minute scribe in 1080p. (see image for hardware specs)

- Feature request: It would be handy to be able to start playing speech an music files from different points during a scribe. For instance by linking their starting points to images being drawn.

- Feature request: It would be nice to draw thick lines and weirdly shaped lines as those lines and not as outlines or hair lines. Because right now it draws really thin lines and then "poof" they fatten up to my line thickness in Illustrator. I also can't get the colour filled areas to progressively fill up, they just "poof" and now they're full.

- Love: your tutorials, your product, your pricing around x-mas, your vibe.

- I made this production in just 26 hours using Adobe premiere for editing the sound under it and Handbrake to compress it. Feature request: http://youtu.be/N9-W5i1rSAw

copycash - 12/16/2014 7:32 PM

Well from what I see you are not failing, you are falling behind. I see a program that can sketch the first frame of a video and then it comes alive as a video, I see power point slides where you can add scribe to the pp. I see black screens where you can change the color of the scribing, I see scribing where it will ask questions and stop and wait for a yes or no answer, I see images turn to any color you choose. I also believe that the environment for scribing is for business also. Now there are lots of people selling these things for all these new programs that are out there. There are talking figures. I could go on and on, so maybe you might see what I'm seeing and implement it into videoscribe. these programs so far are easy sketch pro, explaindio, easy video fx and there are others. I'm a life member and these things that could be added would certainly put you back up there, but I'm not sure you could beat their prices.. Very very small compared to video scribe. I like video scribe but you have competition!!

Barry Whitmans - 12/16/2014 4:06 PM

Here are a couple of ideas for you.
1. Make it so that you can put your power point presentation into scribe and scribe right over the top of it with ease. Merging PP and VS into a seamless system would be awesome.

2. I would bet that the majority of your clients are marketers or business people. So, give us more marketing images and backgrounds. How about a bunch of office images like desks, office rooms, cubicles, office people images etc.. Inside of banks, maybe a few desks with 12 - 20 busts of people so they look like they are at the desk etc...

3. I solved the recording issue by playing the scribe and recording the audio then. But if you could make the view scribe window larger or make it infinitly resizeable that would be great. It's so hard to read the scribe and talk when you can't see the words because they are too small.

4. More images of maps such as map of Europe, USA, Asia etc.. More travel images such as airplanes, Iffel tower, statue of liberty, and other land marks.

5. More building images such as office buildings, restaurants, homes, schools, churches and more.

Thank you, Patrick

Fooksie - 12/16/2014 3:38 PM

I enjoy using Videoscribe because it is so elegant in its simplicity. I think one feature that I would love to see added would be the ability to do fade ins/outs.

Jodie - 12/16/2014 3:25 PM

Create a separate timeline so we can align audio/video without having to play over and over and over again.

Take it to the next level with 3 timelines: music, voice, and visual.

On Demand Education Ltd - CRM - 12/16/2014 3:16 PM

Add text to speech plugin for characters reading text

On Demand Education Ltd - CRM - 12/16/2014 3:13 PM

Create an addon to U Stream so we can put videoscribes into broadcast content

On Demand Education Ltd - CRM - 12/16/2014 3:13 PM

let us create videoscribes that export to HTML5 and not to video (sprites, jQuery etc)

On Demand Education Ltd - CRM - 12/16/2014 3:12 PM

Make an app that connects the fun of VideoScribe to Techsmith Camtasia and lets you add scribes to video recorded in Camtasia

On Demand Education Ltd - CRM - 12/16/2014 3:10 PM

Fail quickly by trying to turn VideoScribe into a sort of all singing all dancing Powerpoint add-on. Stop adding *so much* functionality to a product that did one job and did it well.

Jean-Francois Vezina - 12/4/2014 5:48 AM

Wow ! Thank you so much to share your experience with us ! I am publishing my next book in febuary and use a lot of videoscribes to promote it. What a magical tool that you have created. Thanks again !

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