TurnHere Makes an About Face

TurnHere, a video site founded a little over a year ago, has pretty drastically changed its model, culminating in a relaunch last month, we learned at the San Francisco Video 2.0 Meetup Tuesday night. The company, which launched with the premise of commissioning and aggregating neighborhood vignettes, now primarily produces short-form video for corporate clients.

“We had an unrealistic expectation that this would take off,” said Jared Simon, TurnHere’s senior director of site and business development, who presented at the meetup. Simon said the Emeryville, Calif.-based company had been working on mostly client-commissioned projects for the last six months, but had been having “an identity crisis” before deemphasizing the local videos, which weren’t paying the bills.

The company, which has received funding from William Randolph Hearst III, continues to employ a global network of filmmakers, coordinating projects at a high level of production with what sounds like a lot of room for creativity. “Hopefully we are for the filmmakers a really interesting and short form of revenue,” said Simon.

A typical project, he said — for instance a blurb on a local business lasting a couple of minutes — would be shot in an hour and edited in a few days, at a cost of about $1,000 to the client. Additional services, such as a longer piece or a round of edits suggested by the client, cost extra. TurnHere owns the copyright and gives the client a license to it.

TurnHere distributes videos through its own site as well as Google Earth, Google Local, Google Video, MSN Video, and Yahoo! Video. Clients include Citysearch, Intercontinental Hotels, Discovery Networks, and Simon & Schuster.

TurnHere was one of the first of the current wave of companies trying to explore the potential of enlisting quality filmmakers for web-specific projects. It’s pretty interesting to see it resorting to infomercials.