It’s not very often that you hear of Japanese startups breaking out of their insular home market to set up in the States, but Tokyo-based 500 Startups participant Cinemacraft is doing just that. It has announced that it is relocating to Silicon Valley and pivoting to offer a new service that aims to make exploring online videos easier.

The move is no great surprise, as the company is part of 500 Startups’ fall accelerator program, the lineup of which was announced this week. However, Cinemacraft isn’t going lightly on the relocation, moving its HQ over from Tokyo and shifting its development base from Singapore. A new development team will be assembled in Silicon Valley, but the startup will maintain a presence in the Japanese capital.

Cinemacraft’s relocation coincides with a change in direction. Whereas it was previously building a mobile streaming service for emerging markets, its is now working on a social platform for video discovery and engagement.

Screen Shot 2012 11 01 at 16.49.19 520x342 Japans Cinemacraft moves to Silicon Valley, launching Videogram to breathe new life into thumbnails

The new product, Videogram, is designed to make the humble video thumbnail work harder. It produces a thumbnail made up of automatically selected, eye-catching parts of the video it’s linked to. Users can then click any image to jump to that part of the video.

Cinemacraft has offered up an example of a Videogram thumbnail, although I’m not convinced that a music video is the best application of the technology. This could be more beneficial for long-form content like documentaries, allowing users to jump to parts that catch their attention.

Videogram is available via API access for developers, while consumers and publishers can upload a video to the website to automatically create an enhanced embed from any YouTube video.

In addition to 500 Startups, Cinemacraft has funding from angels in Japan and Singapore.

Videogram

Image credit: Getty Images