Michael Arrington of TechCrunch recently wrote about two start-ups who are building new businesses around user-generated cartoons.

Aniboom is neck and neck with newcoming MyToons in the race to become the “YouTube of Cartoons.” Both sites are excellent, although MyToons is still in private beta.

Well, MyToons.com just came out of beta.  The player  looks really good — and it’s easy to share via embed or email and simple to enter user tags. (You’ll need an updated version of Explorer or Firefox and you need to download Flash 9.)

MyToons.com debuted yesterday in Austin at SXSW.  Since I regrettably couldn’t get down to Austin, I got MyToons.com CEO Dan Kraus on the phone.

We spoke mostly about infrastructure and key issues for users.  Animators’ files can be very large, so MyToons.com uses On2 Technologies to provide tools to compress and create Flash on the local computer so there is less need for big server farms to process files and host files.  So, costs are lower for MyToons.com and there is greater control for the content developer. 

Here’s what Dan told me:

“We’ve built a social network that satisfies the needs of animation
aficionados. We’re talking about a rabid user base that expects a lot
in terms of technology from its online community, but we think we’ll
‘wow’ them.”

MyToons.com is free and open to everyone interested in animation, not just professionals. This necessitated making the uploading of clips as quick and simple as possible. Kraus and his team approached On2 for a solution. The technique being used by other sites was not suited to MyToons.com needs. Users of other sites had to upload their clips to off-site servers where processing can take a significant amount of time before the clip goes live.  MyToons.com uses the company’s Flix Publisher to optimize the user experience.

Using On2’s solution, MyToons.com gives animators instant gratification and greater control over image quality. Users publish on their own machines. Once a clip is processed through On2’s publisher on the animator’s computer, the animator almost immediately can view the clip locally. Before it is uploaded to MyToons.com, a clip’s quality can be adjusted.

“Animators are very proud of their clips because they put so much effort into them,” explains Dan. “After hours of animating, they don’t want the image quality taken out of their control. They want to make sure their clips are of optimal quality.”

On2 keeps costs low for MyToons.com. The Flix Publisher minimizes infrastructure costs for MyToons because it is not required to maintain a server farm to encode the animated clips prior to web posting. Instead of building an infrastructure to process the video for the site, the Flix Publisher uses the user’s PC to encode the file.

On2’s compression technology creates small data files that do not take an excessive amount of space on the animator’s hard drive and allows for streaming at 500k/second. Additionally, On2’s Flash 8 technology generates much higher quality than other formats.

Kraus has found acceptance of MyToons.com by the animation community to be extremely satisfying as thousands of animators watch the site’s content, upload their creations and share content by embedding on other sites like MySpace or their own blogs. They are connecting with new friends, animators, industry professionals and artists world-wide.

“The overall result is a positive one for the animation community,” says Kraus. “Users are watching and uploading unique content from all over the world – all styles, types and genres of animation, with the highest quality player on the net. We’re becoming the YouTube of animation.”

(Full disclosure here:  On2 is a public relations client of Plesser Holland, publisher of Beet.TV)

Andy Plesser

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