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Monday, July 30, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Interface

Personal video meets TV at Overcast intersection

What: Overcast Media, based in Seattle's Green Lake neighborhood

Who: Richard Stoakley, 36, founder and CEO

Mission: Redefine television watching by allowing users to generate content seen in tandem with a familiar program.

Employees: 5

How it works: Users download the Overcast player (www.overcastmedia.com) and then open digital content. They then add their own commentary about the action, which is then available to other users. For example, it can provide needed detail for a complicated drama, one with multiple plot layers and symbols not always detectible at first viewing. Stoakley said the service is a perfect companion to ABC's Byzantine "Lost."

The obvious question: Stoakley said this process doesn't violate copyright laws because it doesn't involve distribution, and that anyone who legitimately purchases content is legally allowed to use it any way they please. Additionally, content creators are eager to become involved, as it increases the cult of interest for their respective shows.

Financials: Any profit is in the future. The self-financed company is now running on individual savings. Stoakley said it doesn't take much for it to operate. He sees opportunities down the road to insert ads or sell aggregate data to marketing companies.

New combinations: "We are at the intersection of two trends, the creation of user content and the explosion in personal video," Stoakley said. "And we are tapping into what people are already doing with video blogs, bulletin boards or podcasts, with the added ability to see and hear the programs and commentary at the same time. Watching an Overcast presentation is like watching two simultaneous performances."

Sanity clause: Stoakley said the target audience borders on fanaticism. "We look for people who are almost irrationally passionate about the subject matter," he said. "Because they end up creating the best content."

— Charles Bermant

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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