Photos by Brian O’Neill of Brian O’Neill Photography
On The Flipside Mobile Flipbook Studio isn’t your typical photo booth. In fact, it’s not a photo booth at all, but an interactive photo experience that creates customized flipbooks of party-goers dancing and goofing off in wigs, hats, etc., in 60 seconds flat. And these rare keepsakes are free for your guests or clients.
Doesn’t compute? That’s because there’s only up-to two of these types of photo businesses allowed per city, because of copyrighted software that requires a license to use, since flipbooks were patented in 1882.
In 2008, On the Flipside was created, after Kristy Etheredge, chief marketing flipper, had seen a similar photo business in Arizona and decided to get licensed and invest in this cutting-edge idea. The business started as a way to make a clever marketing tool to get information about a brand into the hands of clients in a form they were unlikely to just throw-away: pictures of themselves and their friends having a good time at a party, with various fun props.
“But as soon as I started, I heard nothing but, ‘I’d love you at my wedding, my graduation, my Bar mitzvah…’ and it really grew from there,” said Etheredge, who is now in the Austin Wedding Guide as a mobile studio that serves College Station, Austin and surrounding areas. “People don’t realize how fast they break down all their barriers when props are involved. They just get instantly comfortable.”
This might be why, while many photo booths generally keep 10 props on hand, Etheredge has anywhere from 70 to 200. This may be due to her theater background, but it also might have something to do with her quest for delivering a unique experience to the customer.
“Sometimes I work private parties for businesses and I hear things like ‘I’ve never seen our CEO have so much fun.’ It’s refreshing and touching,” said Etheredge. “We’re not just providing a photo, we’re providing entertainment and an experience.”
So how is it done? A special webcam is used to capture digital video clips of guests dancing or goofing off in a specific photo area with props of their choice and then printed out with a laser printer. (This printer has ink cartridges that are $134 a piece and Etheredge goes through about two per event.) Then a specialized cutting tool is applied, but it can only go so far itself. Etheredge has to give her staff specialized training on the most quick and efficient way to use this tool. Then the prints are bound with staples from large commercial grade staplers capable of going through 240 pages. The books can also be bound with ribbons and other such things on request. (For more info on the process, check out this video.)
Later this month, Etheredge will even add green screen technology to the mix, so clients can appear in front of any background of their choice and, of course, this opens up the boundless world of iStock as well. Soon she’ll even start emailing seven-second videos to clients right after they finish a photo session from her onsite laptop. She also plans to add a party photo gallery to her new website, which she is unveiling in about three weeks.
“It’s all about instant gratification,” said Etheredge, “and I’m always looking for more ways to achieve this.”