In an online world dominated by the social media giants Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, it’s hard to imagine developing a new social platform. But the team at Shutta have discovered, with the right idea in the right place at the right time, anything can happen. Their app allows for beautifully captured moments of intense action, something that not every smartphone user can achieve purely with the device in their hand, even using the burst function.
During the 2013 Festival of Colours in Tarifa, Spain, James Shimell was trying to capture the perfect photograph on his smartphone but kept missing the moment.
“I decided to shoot video and extract the perfect photo that way,” says James. “Though I realised there was no effective way to capture the perfect photograph from a video without losing quality of the still.” So James decided to create his own tool to capture images from video, and Shutta was born.
Shutta really came to life during beta testing in early 2015, and has since grown from an initial audience of 7,000 to a current community of 700,000. The app has been present on the iPhone market for the past 15 months, and last month they finished up their Android release.
“The Android uptake has been good but challenging,” says Barbara Ximenez, co-founder of Shutta. “Purely because there are so many devices and screens you have to design for.” Even so, the intense Android development has paid off, as Shutta is the only video-to-photo extraction app available on multiple platforms.
What started as a standalone tool for photo extraction became a community after user feedback. Users were asking for editing capabilities as well as a built-in platform to share their stills.
“This was a time before Snapchat, Periscope or Facebook Live had really taken off,” says Barbara. “It wasn’t common for people to be predominantly shooting video, but the act of scrolling through video in slo-mo is extremely addictive.”
James, Barbara and the Shutta project eventually came to find their home in Vietnam. “Coming [to Vietnam] helped us get inspired and continue with what we were doing,” says James. “Everyone here has a project and there is this contagious energy.” Vietnam is also home to many talented, young developers, with 14 universities in Ho Chi Minh City alone offering computer science degrees.
(Photo by Sian Kavanagh)
A unique feature of the app is the missions which are designed to give users motivation and rewards for posting. Each mission offers a unique prize for the best photograph, and they cover different themes and events. For their Android release, they gave away a Samsung Galaxy S7, as one of the hundreds of models they spent so much time developing for.
When you talk to any of the team members, you can tell that the day job is still their passion project. Every opportunity they have to discuss, explain and use the app is well used.
“The app is fantastic, but it’s the team that is truly remarkable,” says Barbara. “The people behind Shutta are all co-parenting the project with the same pride and dedication.”
At a recent event at Saigon Outcast, the team turned up together, cameras and phones in hand, shooting plenty of footage to be used for social media posts later on. They spent their day sipping beer and playing games while filming each other and joking around. They were working, but to the untrained eye this was just a group of friends enjoying an afternoon together.
“It’s all really clicked,” says James. “It makes working easier when you’re being silly and having a laugh, and it’s difficult to convince our users that we’re out there having fun if we’re really not.”
Part of the laid-back work culture is the weekly BBQ gathering that the Shutta team hosts. They’ve nicknamed themselves the Not Yet Dead Poets Society and bring over their friends every Friday to celebrate the weekend with food and cold beer. Now, they want to expand the fun across the globe; firstly by taking ‘Poets’ to Hawaii, and inviting some of their most active users to a regular community party to thank them for their participation in the development of Shutta.
When you download Shutta you get an app that offers the ease of having beautiful photos without the stress of perfect timing, and a new community of active, excited and engaged photographers.
To learn more about the app go to shutta.co
(Photo by Sian Kavanagh)