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Local startup making video creation easy for Austin creatives

Startup Otter Network launched new tools in its product suite, Otter Director 2.0 and Teleport. (Otter Network)

In the summer of 2020, Nick Tangborn got up close and personal at concerts. As CEO of Otter Network, a local video production tech startup, he and his team live-streamed video at ACL Live at 3TEN showcasing soul band Tomar & the FCs, rock 'n' roll band Western Youth and indie band Moving Panoramas, among others.

At the time, the Otter Network team was using an early version of a video creation tool they were developing. “The responses that we got were ‘wow, it looks like a TV show,’" Tangborn said. “Because we had movement. We had lights. We had a sophisticated image. We had real shooters… so you get sort of a Steadicam feel. And the second obviously, was that it sounded really good.”

Earlier this week, the Austin-based company had its product suite debut of Otter Director 2.0, the tool used at ACL Live, and Teleport, which is a content management system of sorts. It gives solo creators the ability to shoot footage on their own, with Tangborn describing it as a "mobile production suite." With it, creators can take up to four cameras and are able to switch between them, to accomplish something like traditional HD broadcasting. Still, Otter Network offers production services for brands if needed.

It’s been a long time coming, with the tools being in the works for about three and half years.

“It’s a lot of functionality crammed into a couple of platforms, but we really see it as an ecosystem,” Tangborn said, adding that it allows what’s essentially pay-per-view events to take place.

Tangborn founded Otter in 2017 as the next step in his long career in the arts. He was managing editor of an early online music magazine founded in the 90s called Addicted to Noise, later renamed Sonic. He said that led him down a path to Rhapsody. And he also founded a record label, Jackpine Social Club. His passion for music eventually landed him in Austin where he’s been for more than a decade now.

While Austin is key to the work, the ultimate goal is empowering creators and helping them share art with people.

“We thought if we build these tools, we can then partner with any of these other creators or creator platforms to enable them to get that content out to people,” Tangborn said.

Next for Otter is an expansion of the 16 person team that works mostly from an office on South Lamar, with the flexibility to work from home and some other team members living in Fort Worth. Tangborn says there are plans to hire development and product talent and growing marketing efforts.

With that, the team will execute projects that Tangborn describes as a “feature roadmap a mile long.” It’ll include a graphics engine so that there can be titles, credits, lower thirds and other features. Another key part is making improvements to the quality of the video.

“I hate the word content. I don’t like reducing a movie or art or writing to just this bucket word content. I think it’s important to embrace the art itself,” he said.


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