At Wednesday morning's TechCrunch50 demo of video search engine VideoSurf, CEO Lior Delgo showed off how the technology would be useful for finding a single moment from your favorite TV series. Delgo used HBO's Entourage as an example, picking out a few lines of dialogue from a 30-minute episode.
To make all of that happen, entire episodes--in this case illegally hosted ones on YouTube--get crunched through VideoSurf's servers. It's an entirely automated process that scans videos faster than real-time, and does not require people to do the heavy lifting.
What makes the technology special is that it picks out characters from these series and lets you see individual moments where they appear. The same thing happens when you're viewing any episode through the service--it'll pick out who it recognizes and put up a character list next to the clip.
If a friend sends you a clip from the service it will start and end at the exact timeline they select. When you're prepping a clip yourself, you can also scrub to the spot you want and e-mail it to them without leaving the page.
Ideally this technology could be licensed elsewhere. Considering it can figure out who people are in both moving videos and still frames, having this on something like Facebook would mean your photos and videos would automatically be tagged. This would be especially cool for recognizing both your friends and others on the service that you might not necessarily know.
The service is currently in private beta but accepting sign-ups Wednesday.