Deluxe gets into clipping

Tech company buys MediaRecall, which catalogs video clips

With content library owners dreaming of a day that video clip sales become as big a business as ringtones, there’s a growing demand for companies to organize and describe archival footage. After all, you can’t sell a clip if you don’t know what’s in it — or if potential buyers can’t find it.

Deluxe, which is already offering tools in that area, announced Tuesday it’s beefing up its offerings with the acquisition of MediaRecall, a digital video-services business with its HQ in the Chicago area.

MediaRecall has some 2,000 people working from home around North America, cataloging, segmenting and describing archival footage so it can be resold as stock footage and other forms. Its clients include WGBH, National Geographic and ITN.

MediaRecall becomes part of Deluxe Digital Media and has already been remonickered “MediaRecall by Deluxe.”

Company’s founders and other employees will remain in place, except for CEO George Deeb, who will leave after a transition period. Gray Ains-worth, Deluxe’s senior VP, Operations, will oversee MediaRecall.

Ainsworth called the acquisition “a metadata play” for Deluxe. Metadata, which includes detailed descriptions and logging of content, is growing in importance as content owners digitize their libraries.

MediaRecall workers must pass a test of visual acuity and descriptive skills (only about 15% of applicants pass, Ainsworth said) and work through a secure site.

“Within Hollywood it’s possible this is going to help content owners monetize content in new forms,” Ainsworth said. He pointed to businesses that resell clips for use as ringtones, emoticons, etc. “In order to do that successfully, that (footage) has to be described.”

Digital Domain announced last week the creation of a sister company, Mothership, that springs from its commercial division.

Mothership will take on transmedia and other branding projects, including campaigns that extend to print and mobile screens — generally, it’ll tackle jobs that require strategic thinking but might not need the high-end production resources of a movie like the new “Tron Legacy” or “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

Mothership founder-prexy Ed Ulbrich, who retains his title of prez of DD’s commercials division, told Daily Variety that in the emerging world of transmedia storytelling, “you’re developing a story world and creating onramps to it that can be videogames or movies or books on your Kindle.”

Brands, too, are interested in getting into transmedia storytelling, “because they need integrated marketing.”

Ulbrich said part of the impetus behind Mothership is a new breed of helmer.

While David Fincher, Michael Bay and Gore Verbinski cut their teeth on commercials, “now we have a new crop of guys like Joe Kosinski who grew up playing videogames and working at workstations. They’re as comfortable with a workstation as they are with a camera.”

Ulbrich also noted that what used to be “visual effects” are now just filmmaking tools. “We’re in a world where there’s no such thing as post-production. The line’s not blurred, it’s gone.”

Initially, Mothership will focus on marketing and branding, but it’s already repping a stable of directors, and Ulbrich doesn’t rule out eventually looking at other kinds of projects.

Mothership’s management also includes executive creative director Alejandro Lopez and executive producer Tanya Cohen.

The Motion Picture Academy isn’t likely to open up Oscar voting to the public, and it still relies on paper ballots to determine the winners, but it is inviting the public to vote by Internet for the gown to be worn by awards escorts during the kudocast.

Web voting began Tuesday night for “Oscars Designer Challenge 2010,” with voters choosing among nine designs. Voting continues through Tuesday.

A Web series, “Oscars Designer Challenge: Behind the Dress,” runs online daily March 3-8. The winning design will be announced March 7 on the “Oscars Red Carpet 2010” preshow telecast.