November 11, 2014

Cornellians Develop Free Video Editing Mobile Application

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By PAULINA GLASS

This month, Fly — a Cornellian-developed, free video editing application for iOS devices — passed one million downloads in Apple’s App Store.

The application was featured as one of Apple’s ‘Best New Apps’ and has been featured by The Washington Post, The Verge and other tech publications, according to Tim Novikoff Ph.D. ’13, chief executive officer of Fly Labs.

Novikoff said the idea for the successful application was conceived at Cornell three years ago at his own Halloween party, when he and other math and computer science graduate students dressed up as the rock band Queen for a performance of “Don’t Stop Me Now.”

“I thought it’d be cool to have a multiview video of the performance, but that would be a hassle to make,” he said. “I thought there should be an easier way to make videos.”

According to Novikoff, Fly originated from his desire to create a “multi-angle video app,” After two years of full-time development, he said, the app was released. The application, as well as Novikoff’s company were both started during his time pursuing his Ph.D. at Cornell.

“It was crazy stressful when we launched, but thankfully it’s gone well.” — Tim Novikoff Ph.D. ’13

“While I was in grad school, I just made my first app for fun,” Novikoff said. “It became a hobby of mine throughout school and I ended up making things like an iPad math textbook and other experimental stuff.”

Novikoff added that his time at Cornell conducting research with Prof. Jon Kleinberg ’93, computer science,  and Prof. Steven Strogatz, applied mathematics, was a contributing factor to his success.

Though Novikoff said he was focused on his Ph.D. studies — his dissertation was on “algorithmic education theory” — he also said that his passion for developing video-editing apps came to fruition after an event called “Three Day Startup” at Cornell.

“[At Three Day Startup] you come up with an idea for a startup and you flesh it out, build a prototype over the weekend and then decide to continue it if you want,” he said. “That’s how my company started.”

Novikoff said Fly Lab’s team includes another Cornellian: Jordan Whitney ’11. The company’s second video-editing application, Crop on the Fly, was released Thursday “in celebration” of the original Fly app reaching one million downloads.

Novikoff added that the new application will focus on eliminating “vertical video syndrome.”

“Videos taken vertically on a phone can look bad online,” he said. “[Crop on the Fly] can salvage your videos. You can crop them to make them horizontal, and you can also slide the crop window up and down to make sure what you want is in the frame.”

Novikoff — who has created two courses on iOS application development for the computer science department at Cornell — said he hopes to provide an app that can “serve people who like to be creative with their iPhone.”

The company is currently working on a third mobile application, part of its plan to “create any app that anyone could ever want for mobile video,” according to Novikoff.

Novikoff reflected on the success of his company, saying he is “thankful” for its success thus far.

“That Halloween was three years ago,” he said. “It’s been a long and difficult journey since then, as you might imagine. It was crazy stressful when we launched, but thankfully it’s gone well.”

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