The review, commenting and approval process is certainly an important one when it comes to getting a client to sign off on an edit and get the job out the door. How exactly you go about this task so that it is painless for both editor and client can be a very big question. If time and proximity permits having a client sit in on the session that is a great way to go. If you’re separated by distance you might choose something like First Cut Pro.
First Cut Pro isn’t the first online review site out there on the ‘net and I can guarantee you it won’t be the last. I haven’t used any of the others in a long time so this isn’t a comparison to any others, just a look at First Cut Pro. Yes, that name is very similar to another “F” Cut Pro so that may or may not help out in the long run. First Cut Pro is an offshoot of a more consumer oriented service called RollyPolly that is designed to be an interactive commenting system for web video (as well as analytics). It seems like a good platform upon which to build a more professional review and approval system for the film and video world.
The idea is simple: upload your edit to Vimeo, Brightcove or YouTube (those services are supported now but likely more to come), invite your viewers into the custom First Cut Pro viewing room and they can watch and comment on the video. Those comments are listed in the viewing room interface and the editor can then download those comments into an NLE friendly file that can be brought back into the timeline. Not a radical concept overall but the strength of First Cut Pro is that it works well. In addition First Cut Pro provides some detailed analytics on who has viewed the video as well as some of their behaviors while viewing.
First, you’ve got to get your video posted. Your first reaction might be (as mine was): “I can’t put my unfinished client videos up on a video streaming site.” There are a lot of people doing just that and rest assured you can use a private Vimeo embed as one option. While you can’t use a private YouTube embed you can use an unlisted YouTube clip as all you need is the YouTube URL. The chances of anyone finding an unlisted YouTube video these days without a lot of description and keywords is most likely slim and none.
A better option might be Vimeo as you can have much better control over the security of the video. I asked the First Cut Pro folks about this issue since a YouTube video that is unlisted is technically available to the public and they sent back these recommended Vimeo settings for optimum security:
Once you’ve got your video ready, add a new project in the First Cut Pro interface, invite the viewers and you’re ready to go. There are a number of customization options including the ability to allow viewers to see only their comments, a place for notes on the project as well as password protection. New features are getting added regularly as development of First Cut Pro seems rapid. Once cool thing is the ability to make custom buttons (currently a maximum of 8) to let viewers make notes with just a click rather than a type.
Setup is easy and rather self-explanatory so if you can run an NLE you’ll be able to figure out First Cut Pro. If you want to just see what it's like to use the service then click over to this viewing room that was set up for the curious to see what it's like: http://firstcutpro.com/private/45ef2b743
One thing missing from their website is pricing information, which is important to most everyone. When you check the pricing page (as of this writing) this is what you see:
That doesn't help put together a budget so I asked the First Cut Pro folks about pricing and these are their current working numbers (though as well all know pricing is subject to change ... as it says above):
Freelancer - 4 projects per month with 4 revisions per project - $40/month
Team - 8 projects per month with 6 revisions per project - $80/month
Firm - 12 projects per month with 8 revisions per project - $120/month
Enterprise - Unlimited projects with unlimited revisions per project - Custom pricing with an average of $10/month per project
That seems pretty affordable.