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Start-up to catch San Francisco baseball fans in action

Web photo start-up Mslide tomorrow will announce a deal with the San Francisco Giants as well as changes to its name and business strategy.

    San Francisco Giants fans may have little to smile about these days--except for the new Pac Bell Park--but if a photographer in a bright red shirt approaches, it would be best to just say "cheese."

    The photographers in red work for digital photography start-up Mslide, which tomorrow will announce a home-run marketing partnership with the Giants (currently nursing the worst record in the National League).

    Launched about a year ago, Mslide allows amateur photographers to turn their digital pictures into online slides or movies accompanied by music.

    The company is looking to move beyond the Web-based slide show concept to more of an online studio and broadcasting network. "More Hollywood," as Mslide founder Dan Hobin explained.

    Snapshots of Giants fans either cheering or weeping into their beers on game day will be displayed on the huge video screen for the audience of more than 40,000 sitting in the new ballpark.

    For every home game, Mslide photographers will run around the stadium for the first three innings snapping shots of fans in action. After the sixth inning, the photographs will be cropped into a slide show and displayed on the JumboTron.

    "It's a way to bring fans into the game," Hobin said. "It'll be like a Web movie of the fans."

    Later, fans can go to the Giants' official Web site, where the slide show will be stored, and make copies of the pictures for friends and family members.

    Hobin said plans are in the works to provide similar services to other professional baseball teams.

    Mslide also is set to announce tomorrow that it changing its name to SmashCast.

    Though it's still trying to carve a niche for itself in the crowded digital photography market, Mslide appears to be in a good position in part because of its strong partnerships--with Kodak, Net photo Web site Zing and now the San Francisco Giants.

    Earlier this year, Mslide scored $4 million in its first round of funding, and Hobin expects his second round next week to be just as easy despite the current financial climate.