Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sony Pictures launches online video network

Sony Pictures will on Monday launch an online video network that seeks out and rewards new talent and enables videos to be uploaded in high definition.

Crackle represents a relaunch for the video-sharing site Grouper, bought by Sony for $65m last August in one of the biggest Web 2.0 acquisitions of a San Francisco Bay Area company.

Crackle becomes part of an increasingly crowded video sector, where high-quality content can be a differentiator. The Sausalito-based company also sees itself seizing on a trend of content creators becoming more professional and seeking mainstream acceptance.

The website will offer a slate of themed channels for users to upload material. They include Wet Paint, an edgy animation channel, Shorts, highlighting short films, and High Wire, a stand-up comedy channel.

The best High Wire submissions can win a chance to perform at the well-known Improv comedy clubs, while Shorts uploaders could win a studio development deal and get the chance to pitch feature film ideas to Columbia Pictures executives.

Animation winners could see their work being theatrically released, making them eligible for Oscars.

Videos will be encoded and shown in higher than normal quality in widescreen format, with high-definition uploads also enabled.

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