Ever since cassette tapes first were a thing, people have shared compilations of the music they love, with the people they love. Why wouldn’t they? Music is something that’s deeply personal and intimate. The juxtaposition of songs can weave a story about the person you are and the way you’re feeling. Music is meant to be shared.
I find it strange that people don’t really do the same with movies. I honestly couldn’t tell you why. Maybe it’s because in relation to vinyl and audio cassettes, home video is a relatively new idea. It could also be because you need a bit of technical know-how in order to copy a film. You don’t need that to use a two-deck tape recorder, or to burn a few MP3s to a CD-R.
Netflix want to change that. It recently launched FlixTape – a new standalone site which focuses on the virtually untapped market for movie and television playlists. It’s hard to believe, but until recently there was no inbuilt functionality that offered this. If you wanted to create a movie compilation, you’d have to post it on a blog or social media site.
So, how does FlixTape work? What can it offer you, the viewer? And are there any other apps which add a sorely-needed social side to the world’s largest streaming site? Read on to find out all of this and more besides.
Creating Your Own FlixTape Mixtapes
FlixTape makes it seriously easy to create your own movie playlists. The entire process is rolled into four steps. First, just head to the FlixTape website. It will then prompt you to name your compilation. This has to start with “The” and end with “FlixTape”. I went with “The Political Comedy FlixTape”.
Based on the name you gave your FlixTape, Netflix will suggest some movies and TV shows to be included. Honestly? I’ve never been impressed with Netflix’s recommendation engine, and FlixTape’s suggestions predictably underwhelmed. I was searching for political comedies, and was given Shooter, House of Cards, and Homeland. Don’t get me wrong, these are great shows, but they’re not comedies.
Mercifully, Netflix makes it easy to excise them from your list. Just hover over the title you want to get rid of, and you’ll be given the option to remove or replace it. FlixTape will also give you the option to see more information on it, if it’s a title you don’t recognize. You can change the order of titles by dragging and dropping them.
Once you’ve got a clean slate, you’re then able to add your own. Netflix gives you the choice to search by genre and title. You can also search for partial titles, if you’re not 100% sure of the name of the content you want to add.
Before you share your FlixTape, you can also create a memorable cover image for it. This will give a hint of what’s included.
Then, you’re finished! The last thing to do is share it with your friends. FlixTape gives you the option of posting it to Facebook or Twitter, as well as a direct link to pass around via email.
It’s important to emphasize that Netfix’s lineup varies from country to country. The UK, for example, has less than half of the content that’s available in the United States. This means that if you share a FlixTape with someone living in a country other than your own, they might not be able to see everything that’s on your list.
Netflix’s Own FlixTape Mixtapes
Much like Spotify, Netflix has gone to the trouble of creating its own playlists. These have twee names like “The Besties or Frenemies Flixtape” and the “Mom and Pop Flixtape“, and have a healthy mix of Netflix’s quality original content, and stuff produced by mainstream movie and TV studios, like Lionsgate and 20th Century Fox.
I was a little bit perplexed by the content on some of the playlists I saw. That “Mom and Pop Flixtape” I mentioned? It had heart-warming family viewing like RED, and House of Cards.
Others were a bit more reasonable. “The Couch University Flixtape” was filled with educational programming and biting social commentary, from the moving Beasts of No Nation starring Idris Elba, to Cooked, where Michael Pollan examines the role of food in society through an anthropological lens.
Two Other Social Netflix Tools
It’s funny – most people watch Netflix with their significant others, or friends. They huddle on a couch, and binge-watch episodes of Orange Is the New Black. But despite that, Netflix has always lacked a social side.
That makes sense, I suppose. The experience of being engrossed in a movie or TV show would be seriously undermined by the presence of notifications and alerts.
In recent years, there has been a proliferation of third-party products, apps, and services that aim to fix that. Honestly, it would be impossible to exhaustively list all of them, but these are the ones I use and love personally.
First up is Netflix Party. This is a free plugin for Chrome, which lets you watch the same TV show or movie with a remote user, whilst keeping in synchronization.
Just download the plugin from the Chrome Store, open a video, and then click the NP icon by the address bar. You’ll then get a link. Share that with someone, and they will be able to drop in. They’ll be able to pause, rewind, fast-forward, and start the video, and your Netflix will move with it. Cool, right?
Another one I use with my fiancee is rabb.it. This lets you start a video conference with someone, much like appear.in does. It also lets you spawn a virtual web browser, which can play Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube, as well as browse the internet.
An unforeseen advantage of this is that it lets you browse the much more plentiful U.S. NetFlix, as that’s where the actual servers running the virtual servers are based. The previous method for achieving this by using a VPN was blocked earlier this year.
What Content Is Going On Your FlixTape?
FlixTape is a mildly diverting social tool from Netflix that should keep you entertained for a while. We doubt it will take off in quite the same way mixtapes did back in the day, but Netflix is at least trying to expand its horizons. And while it’s busy experimenting, you can try the two other tools we have recommended here.
Have you made a FlixTape yet? If so, what’s on it? Are there any other social tools you use with Netflix? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments below.