SmartShoot Unveils Profiles For Its Professional Filmmakers And Photographers

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Custom photography and video marketplace SmartShoot has released a new feature allowing you to browse the profiles of the filmmakers and photographers on the site.

The company was previously known as TurnHere, and it focused on creating promotional videos for businesses. However, it relaunched in October as a more general marketplace for photo and video services, such as finding a wedding photographer or a videographer for a recitcal.

You can post your job to the SmartShoot site, the professionals on the site bid for the work, then you browse their bids and profiles and choose the one you want to work with.

Now you can browse profiles without even creating a job. Instead, when you look at different SmartShoot service pages, like this one for wedding photography in New York, they include a list of some relevant professionals, and you can follow the links to their profiles, which include jobs counts, ratings, and portfolios. For example, here’s the profile of a photographer in New York.

For now, the usefulness of those profiles is a bit limited — I’m guessing that they’re being used primarily to convince newcomers that yes, SmartShoot does have some talented people. (The company says its network includes 15,707 creative professionals who have delivered 53,884 projects and been paid $13 million total.) In fact, when you’re reading a profile, you can’t actually interact with the photographer or filmmaker — instead the site directs you to create a proposal that’s posted to the general community.

However, it sounds like SmartShoot has plans to expand the profile functionality in the future, for example by adding a search feature. And a spokesperson tells me that the company is open to the possibility of allowing users to reach out to the professionals directly: “If this happens to become a frequently asked request we will definitely build it.”

By the way, if you want to try out SmartShoot, the first 100 users who mention “TechCrunch” in their product description will get a 10 percent discount.

YouTube Is Launching A Redesign To Reduce Clutter And Put Videos Front And Center

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More news from YouTube! While on the creator side of things, the company is working on finding the next crop of collaborative geniuses, the product team has been busy building a new homepage experience. That experience is being rolled out as we speak, so users should begin to see it later today.

The new version of the homepage is centered around the YouTube Guide, which shows all new videos from channels that users have subscribed to. It also recommends channels that you might like, based upon your viewing habits, as well as those that your friends are watching. The new Guide feature doesn’t just live on the web in the browser but will also be the focal point for viewers on a wide range of mobile devices and connected TV platforms, including Android, iOS, Playstation 3, and Google TV.

One of the big complaints about the old YouTube design was just that there was too much going on, which distracted from the thing that most people came to YouTube to do — watch videos. The new site changes that by putting the actual content front and center when you go to a video page. All the other features — the subscribe button, the social sharing features, related metadata and all the rest — have been moved down below the video.

Video playlists — which allow for more concurrent, uninterrupted video — are moved to the right side of the video, which will hopefully keep more people watching for longer periods of time. While much of the YouTube traffic has been driven by search in the past, it is making a concerted effort to get viewers to stop snacking and get feasting on multiple related videos.

YouTube’s new design comes about a year after its latest refresh, which was designed to help users start subscribing to more video channels. While channels have existed since 2005, the company has been trying to increase video views from channels over the last year, especially as it’s investing in more Original Channels.

That plan has apparently worked, as the number of users who subscribe has more than doubled during that time. YouTube users are subscribing to about 50 percent more channels, and view time from channels has grown 30 percent. YouTube now claims to have more than 800 million users showing up every month who watch 4 billion hours of videos during that time.

Tax filing delay looms if no fix for minimum tax: IRS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. tax collector warned on Thursday of a delayed start to 2013’s tax season if Congress fails to reset the alternative minimum tax (AMT) on high-income taxpayers so that it does not sweep in millions of middle-income people.

Foursquare Gets Better For Business: You Can Now Add Events To Your Venue

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There are reasons why we go where we go, eat where we eat, and drink where we drink. Maybe it’s the ambience, maybe it’s that cute waitress or waiter, or maybe it’s karaoke night.

Today, Foursquare has announced that businesses can now add events to their venues. This is a pretty huge step toward helping you find new places to go and tell your friends about why you go there…without doing any work.

The cool part about this, which is already available for things like movies, is that you can check-in to the actual event at the venue. This records what you’re doing as well as where you are.

Here’s what the company had to say:

People can already see movie, concert, and sporting events in the Foursquare app (and you should be able to see and edit those on your location). Now you’ll be able to add your own, be it an author appearance, arts and crafts fair, or a fundraising event.

Not only is this important for businesses and consumers, but it’s important for Foursquare as a company. This is yet another deep data point that the company is collecting about our tendencies. You know what that means, right? Better targeted specials.

The march to more revenue continues for Foursquare. What the company has done brilliantly is instead of embracing existing “ad models” that don’t always work, it has created its own that fit within the Foursquare experience. That’s good for users and businesses. And eventually, Foursquare itself.

[Photo credit: Flickr]

Michigan House approves "right-to-work" bill to weaken unions

LANSING, Michigan (Reuters) – The Michigan House on Thursday voted to approve a “right-to-work” bill that would weaken labor union powers after Democratic representatives left the chambers in protest at the decision earlier to lock the state Capitol doors.

Conservative Senator DeMint to resign, head up think tank

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senator Jim DeMint, a leading voice in the modern American conservative movement who has riled fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, surprised both parties on Thursday by declaring he was retiring from the chamber to head a conservative think tank.

Military halts clashes as political crisis grips Egypt

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s Republican Guard restored order around the presidential palace on Thursday after clashes killed seven people, but passions ran high in a contest over the country’s future.

Senate passes Russia trade and rights bill, angering Moscow

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved legislation to punish Russian human rights violators as part of a broader bill to expand U.S. trade with Washington’s former Cold War enemy.