Music fans can layer raw live footage with quality sound
Audio-matching technology means fan footage can be as good as videos produced by professional crews
In the midst of the enormous burst of noise created by Belfast band And So I Watch You From Afar during their Whelan’s gig in November 2010, 45sound founder and chief executive officer Cathal Furey (above) had a lightbulb moment.
Recording professional footage of the show alongside the band’s live engineer, Andy Coles, he realised “Half of the crowd were also filming with their own phones and cameras, and their footage would be every bit as good as our crew videos if they had proper audio.”
Furey had recently begun filming gigs while volunteering as a producer with the Galway Arts Festival, and the former multimedia lecturer says this experience made him realise “good-quality audio recording is the most important part of web video”.
After the ASIWYFA show, he sat down and began to think about just how he could provide greater audio performance for gig-goers determined to record footage on their phones.
“I haven’t really stopped thinking about 45sound since,” he says.
A few months later, he met digital audio experts Dan Barry and Mikel Gainza who saw something in his idea. The pair were able to work with some of Furey’s sample videos and master audio recordings to help develop the concept further and the resultant “audio matching system” that was created became the basis of the 45sound product.
The trio then tested a “very bare-bones system” at the 2011 Hard Working Class Heroes festival in Dublin before going live with a beta version in February 2012.
The following month, they received a massive boost when their efforts were recognised by the globally respected Austin, Texas-based South by SouthWest (SXSW) festival where 45sound was a runner-up in the “music accelerator” competition.
“Fans love to use YouTube for discovering new bands, and the bands love the idea of the videos their fans upload sounding like they should,” explains Furey. “Our audio-matching technology means that fans can upload almost any type of video camera from a show, from pro-level DSLR cameras to older mobile phones.”
All told, since its launch, 45sound’s audio-matching system has been tested during “two hundred shows in 14 countries across three continents” to continually improve the sound quality.
A mobile app was also created, with the team working alongside DIT lecturer and TunePal app creator Bryan Duggan to get it to market.
Funding-wise, the company has been “boot strapped” by support from Enterprise Ireland. And a private investor is set to come on board in the coming months.
Furey says that, having “reached the point where we now have a product that solves a pressing problem for the music industry”, revenue is starting to grow and they should be profitable “within months”.
The company has teamed up with the Meteor Choice Music Prize.
Furey says: “Basically people . . . can simply record footage of full songs or clips of a minimum length of 45 seconds. The next day, they upload the video to the 45sound platform.”
From there, they “layer high-quality audio of the corresponding tracks on top to replace the usual clamour of the crowd”.
“The result,” says Furey, “is high-quality, polished video, not created by a professional, but by a regular punter. We also weave together select clips of the fan-generated footage to create multi-angle edits.” Meteor offered cash prizes for those using the 45sound service and uploading their videos.
Furey and the 45sound team are now back in Austin for this year’s SXSW festival to meet US music industry executives to talk about the technology. And they are also in discussion for link-ups with “some major festivals and tours” this summer.
“Crowd-sourced video made easy is a massive worldwide opportunity,” says the company founder. “And we’re planning to reinvest our profits to keep growing the company aggressively. ”