Japan’s Open8 raises $13M, launches AI-powered video creation tool for business



Video Brain
Image credit: Open8

See the original story in Japanese.

There are many “seeing is believing” cases in reality; children smiling while participating in a social activity, a small restaurant’s much-vaunted new menu, or marketing documents and employee training manuals that are difficult to explain with words. A cloud solution which can realize these things was launched this month.

The keyword for the service is AI (artificial intelligence). Tokyo-based Open8, providing the LeTronc video magazine and some video ad network services, earlier this month launched the AI-powered video creating SaaS (software as a service) named Video Brain.It charges 150,000 yen (about $1,300) monthly, in addition to requiring an annual contract for allowing users to create 20 videos a month maximum.

At the same time the company announced it had raised money from WiL (World Innovation Lab) and Mirai Sousei Fund (by SPARX Group). The raised amount is 1.5 billion yen (about $13 million) and the investment ratio was not disclosed. The total secured amount of Open8 reached 4 billion yen (about $36 million). The firm also announced that it had invited Hiroto Ebata who is known for marketing promotion activities of Coca Cola Japan as its video business advisor.

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The Video Brain platform has developed for enterprise users based on the LeTronc auto-video creation engine LeTronc AI which was launched last October. Analyzing user’s viewing patterns based on retrieval query and others, LeTronc AI automatically edits enormous number of video/  photo materials to match them with each desired scene. With this engine, the firm has been creating and providing 1,000 videos monthly with just 70 staffers.

The platform provides the necessary solution especially focusing on video material editing. Specifically, users upload video / photo materials and a manuscript (text) of the story from browser and choose a template. The platform recognizes the meaning of each uploaded content, and automatically matches them and edits a video content.

Video Brain’s dashboard
Image credit: Open8

There were already similar services for video creation, but users had to input materials manually and edit the text themselves. The platform eliminated the need for all of these processes. As I took a look at the demonstration, it seemed fantastic that all materials were uploaded just by drag-and-drop and then a video was created by one-click only. The firm began test operation targeting enterprise users this June; it is used for creating video material for news in a major newspaper company or employee training video / sales proposal materials in a restaurant chain.

Open 8 Yukou Takamatsu

The topics of auto-video creation had come up frequently. For example, I have heard of a concept combining crowdsourcing and AI such as auto-creation / suggestion of subtitle, and that seems to be close to the platform

What matters here is the quality of created products. To be honest, the platform cannot do everything. As Open 8 CEO Yukou Takamatsu mentioned, this service has works in and out of its line. It is good at video creation in which atmosphere is valued such as image video advertisement but weak at video editing in which strict content is required such as business manuals. However, Takamatsu said that he aims to change the communication of enterprises by launching this solution:

Clients with huge budget can focus on planning and photographing so that they can create high-quality videos, of course. However, small retailers or intra-company communication are lacking in such power.

For example, a restaurant chain has been carrying out social contribution activities (corporate social responsibility; CSR) with its team consisting of a few members. They have many photo / video materials about underprivileged children, but it takes much time to edit them. It would cost hundreds of thousands of yen if ordering video editing production.

I thought that the speed of business and the quality of intra-company communication would be improved by making this process efficient. The information which was hard to be understood turns into something providing a strong impression. I would like to meet such requests from companies.

The firm has its R&D department in Singapore, and will conduct development of AI, speech recognition / transcription function and improvement of editing accuracy.

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy