Why the Storehouse App could be a very big deal for Storytellers

As many of you know,  I have been involved in storytelling in one form or another for 25 years now.   The act of finding a story, researching it further,  gathering media be it with still images, video, sound or text is my favorite part of the process by far.    The post-production and delivery method part of the process?  Well… not so much.  

Perhaps that’s why I’m so excited with the way I and hundreds of thousands of others have started to interact with a new iOS app called "Storehouse" that has recently just been launched on the iPhone (it was previously an iPad only app.)

As we all know, there are thousands of content creation apps out there and delivery platforms and publications.     I’ve personally used the very first desktop publishing software, enterprise level publishing software at the New York Times &, blogging-software,  cutting edge Non-linear editors in film, and literally hundreds of iOS apps.

What Storehouse does so elegantly is to removed the "pain" involved in putting a story together and in sharing it.   It also makes it extremely easy to find and experience a wide variety of content effortlyssly and quickly.   Neither of these is particular easy to do.

On a base level,  the App allows you to go through your iOS Device’s "camera roll" and select 1-30 images/videos and with a few touches of a button flow them into an incredibly beautiful and interactive format.    From that point on you can easily change the layout around add text in a similar to the much clunkier process I used to use while laying out stories in my print-media section of my career.

Within just a few minutes it is possible to publish & share a story and that is key to making sharing stories something you continue to enjoy and come back to.   No matter how good the feedback that you get on a story, a group of images or video is:  I find the main barrier to content creation is the time and stress of putting a piece together.    Storehouse has found a way to make that as close to painless as possible – and to make the process quick.

Another important reality is that timeliness is very important.   People want to hear about things now… immediacy is the word of the decade.     And I know I am not alone in that I spend a huge amount of my free time interacting with my iPhone.   I am spending less and less time on my laptop computer or iPad, and even less on traditional desktop sofware editing through images in Aperture or Lightroom.    The act of copying any disk into a computer is feeling more and more antiquated for many of us.   Wireless and mobility have become part of our lives.

I invited you to download the app, point it to your "camera roll" and try for yourself.

I believe you will find that Storehouse is doing a very good job of removing traditional barriers.   For one, you don’t need to be a designer, the built-in tools lead to simple yet beautiful layouts.

Another thing that you might appreciate about this app,  is that it allows you for the first time to take full advantage of the many gigabytes of images and video stored on your phone, and to easily share them with others in a very elegant form.  

To date we’ve found that posting anything beyond a single image or 140 characters takes quite a bit of work… perhaps this is the reason that so few of us who want to share a bit more depth or complexity often fail to do so.   Storehouse gives a group of images and/or media a new  home.

On the other side of the equation is the wonderful content that you’ll find from OTHER people on the Storehouse.   It’s an eclectic bunch of content:  some are finely crafted pieces produced by National Geographic Photographers while others are quick videos of a family recipe or the best way to cook and omelette by chef Rocco Dispirito.    And in there lies another inherent beauty:  Storehouse aims to welcome everyone to the story-making process.  They recognize that quality stories need to be told, and they try to give the storytellers the best tools in doing so, and making sure things "look" good which is a subtle but important part of the process.   This platform clearly values story over process or technical skill and that is a big reason for its recent success:  they’ve been featured in WIRED, Fast Money, almost all of the major newspapers, and have been Awarded an Apple Designer Award at this year’s Worldwide Developer’s conference.    They’ve also garnered the attention of many important people in Silicon Valley.

 My bet is that this app & the community it is engendering might be something very very special going forward.    We’ve all witnessed traditional media as well as distribution & delivery struggle to retain viewership.

Many of us have actively been looking for a new way to share our content and to find and consume other interesting content online.  

The Storehouse app is one giant leap in that direction for me.  I can honestly say that I’m not sure that  I’ve ever found the act of sharing stories with others  as easy and exciting as I have with Storehouse.  

You can see some of the content  I’ve been putting up to date here.   One of the recent stories I published was of an amazing photographer Dan Winters that I shot in under 15 minutes while visiting his AMAZING studio in Austin, TX.  This and another story I shot on film in China in 1998 were given a second life because of this app – they would otherwise never have seen the light of day on the web.   I attribute that directly to the pleasure & ease I find in creating stories on the app.

In the end, the app isn’t necessarily re-inventing the wheel.    Many of you will find that it simply brings the traditional publishing process to your iOS device.  What is special is HOW they do it.  As you interact with it you will see that at its heart is a ridiculous amount of attention being put in the user experience, and th simplicity of interaction.    

Speaking of heart:  the two founders of the app are designers.    One of them is a former Apple designer who I incidentally worked with while I consulted with Apple on some their Aperture photo software.    

Good Design, minimalism, accessibility are things they cherish almost as much as the importance and power of telling stories.    

Lastly, for those of you who pay attention to the terms of service of many of the social media sites we use daily, you should take a little extra time to see Storehouse’s excellent terms of service…  they are a rare and refreshing departure from the rights grabbing terms too many of us have become accustomed to – and that alone is a reason to consider using the app as your main publishing platform as far as I’m concerned.

Important disclosure:  I’ve been aware of the app since it’s inception phase, and more recently have taken on the role as a advisor to the company.   In other words I believe enough in where they are doing to associate myself with them, and to help them evolve and grow in any way that I can. 



A visit to Dan Winter’s Studio – Storehouse

I’ve been experimenting with a really cool new way to share stories BEYOND 140 Characters on Storehouse…  Here is a really quick and extremely elegant way to marry images, video, text and sound on your iPhone or iPad – that’s also viewable on the web!   I recommend you check it out by downloading the free app, or visiting my page on Storehouse.





Shane Hurlbut’s Illumination Tour

I’ve know Shane Hurlbut since just after the launch of the Canon 5D MKII.     Shane is a great speaker that pours his heart and energy into every speech he gives, but where he really shines is when he teaches about lighting – his true passion.

Prior to evolving to being a very successful DP/ASC member on blockbuster films (he’s shot 18 films) and major commercials, Shane was a successful gaffer who worked both in the film and still worlds – he lit many famous photographs with photographers such as Herb Ritts for example.

I feel like I truly got to know Shane and what made him tick when he spoke at the Masters in Motion educational event last year – where he had several tons of lighting brought up to a large room and asked students to pick any of the lighting setups from a dozen or so setups from his films – and he would reproduce the lighthing – ANY lighting – for the class in minutes to everyone’s awe.

Currently, shane is in the first block of a 24 city tour across the US & Canada called the Illumination Experience.  


I knew this was going to be something pretty special given all of the stops that Shane was pulling in terms of gear, setups, and crew.  I had a chance to attend one of the initial stops a little over a week ago and I was not let down.  The workshop far exceeded my expectations – having just completed the Directing Motion Tour (shameless plug: you can get a download of the entire day if you missed it HERE.)  myself a few months ago.   I know how hard these things are to pull off, and how much traveling with sets and a lot of gear can make the process extremely time consuming and complex.  

Shane is travelling the continent with 5 or 6 crew members with a 10-ton truck filled with lighting and cameras (from 20+ sponsors) to teach you pretty much anything you want to know about lighting.

Shane’s tour is an exciting tour that should appeal to a WIDE RANGE of people.     Shane has gone to great lengths to create what he calls the "Pirate Ship" that is a JL Fisher dolly on a circle track that has 3 different types of light sources mounted to it (different sizes and quality of light.)   LEDs, Pars, Kinos – they are all there.   And Shane takes the time to move the light in every angle as well as height so that students TRULY understand how to light a face, and the finesse that is involved in doing a true LIGHT STUDY prior to shooting a film.     


He painstakingly broke down 5 key what to look at when ligthing anyone’s face:

The Wedge

The Drop Shadow

The Reflection in the Eye

The Nose Shadow

The Eye Shadow.

I can tell you that as a director and sometimes DP, and former photographer – I look at these things every time I look at a potential DP that I am about to hire.   Their ability to judge this type of finesse in someone’s face is what "separates the women form the girls" if you will…  and what leads me to pick on DP over another.   I look at how they light faces, how they light environments, and how they make use of natural light and mix it with artificial light.   

This alone is worth the price of admission.   I can tell you that I did something similar with my photography lighting when I was in college, studying how light fell on different types of faces and from different angles. (I moved around the subject with my lights as opposed to moving the light around a stationary subject… I had no dollies or resources at the time ;)   But I refined that knowledge over one to two decades.   Seeing Shane break this process down with different quality lights is something everyone should see for themselves – be it someone new to lighting all the way up to professionals.

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