Review and Approval Options for Video Pros

Vimeo's new Copyright Match on private videos means many editors might be looking UPDATED 5/23/14

Vimeo has dropped a bomb on their community with the May 21 announcement of Copyright Match on Vimeo. Of course this sent the internet into a tailspin as any big change in a useful, popular service always does. It has also sent a lot of content creators, filmmakers and editors into orbit as they have used Vimeo and its private link option as a review and approval service for their clients. It is easy to use and share private links but Vimeo was never meant to be a review and approval service. Thankfully there are a lot of R&A services out there. READ ON FOR A 5/23/14 UPDATE FROM VIMEO.

This move by Vimeo can’t come as a surprise but there are many who seem to be floored that Vimeo would implement such a system. YouTube has done something similar for years and you can bet that Vimeo’s automated system (using technology from Audible Magic) is probably the most hassle free way both from a recognition and legal standpoint to identify copyrighted material.

As far as the editorial and post-production community is concerned it’s the decision to also include private videos in Copyright Match that seems to be the most problematic and controversial. The comment below comes from a Vimeo staff member responding to a comment asking about private videos:

Yes, private videos will also go through this system. That said, if you believe your private use is permitted by the rights holder, you can provide that information through the appeal process. We’ve tried to make the process simple and easy, but we’re always open to feedback. As mentioned in the post, you can reach a Vimeo moderator directly by responding to any Copyright Match notification you receive.

And this one:

As always, all videos – regardless of privacy – are subject to our Guidelines, which means they are also subject to the Copyright Match system.


UPDATE 5/23/14: Seems Vimeo has been thinking about this whole Copyright Match thing on private videos from a Review and Approval point of view. Below is from an update to their blog post:

Also, some Vimeans have described a use case that they’re concerned will be affected by Copyright Match: Uploading private videos for the purpose of temporary client review.
We want to support the creative process, and Copyright Match wasn’t intended to hinder these efforts. So we’re going to work on changing the system to better support this. While we work on this, we are going to temporarily suspend Copyright Match scanning for private videos in Plus/PRO accounts.
We’ll post another update as soon as we have a longer term solution in place. Thanks again for your honest feedback and passion for making sure that Vimeo remains the best place for artists and creative professionals on the Web! <3

That’s going to make a lot of users happy and keep them from jumping ship to a proper Review and Approval service. That said, I can’t stress how much better a proper Review and Approval service is compared to just seeing playback in a Vimeo embed. It’s more professional, easier for the client to comment on and easier for the editor to get those comments back. Hopefully the many services listed in this blog post will give you a jumping off point in finding the right Review and Approval service. Who knows … Vimeo may add something similar to their service.


If you search for the word “private” in the comments of that Vimeo blog post you’ll see many, many complaints from creators and editors that clients won’t be able to give feedback on cuts and music choices. And they are not happy. This is because many creators use Vimeo private links as a review and approval service for clients to look, give feedback on and approve cuts. It is drop dead easy to upload to private Vimeo links and it’s included in the price of a pro Vimeo account. I don’t think I have a lot of sympathy for those complaining loudest as Vimeo was never really meant to be a review and approval service.

Fortunately there are a lot of affordable review and approval services out there which brings us to the topic of this blog post. Here’s several that are great for editors and post-production professionals to use for client review and approval. They all offer a level of interaction and professionalism above and beyond a Vimeo private link.

There’s probably other review and approval services out there beyond the ones I’m listing below. All of these options offer up a number of different service levels at different prices. All also offer a free trial though it would be nice if they could offer up 30 days for the trial as 15 days some offer isn’t always enough time to take a job all the way through the post-production process. Many can custom build a solution as well but you’d be paying for that service.

Kollaborate

review and approval Kollaborate interface

Kollaborate offers up a very clean, easy to navigate interface for playback of files.

The Kollaborate service is one of my favorites and I have personally paid for a yearly subscription. Kollaborate comes from the folks behind Digital Rebellion and those of us in post-production know they have long been very active suppliers of great post-production tools. Kollaborate includes the integration with a number of helper apps that do everything from simplifying the encode and upload process to allowing easier review and approval with things like the CinePlay application and Cut Notes iPad app.

review and approval Kollaborate interface commets

Commenting is easy in this space to the right of the playback. You can easily reply to comments and watch them update in near realtime. New features are added regularly as I signed in recently and the new annotate directly on the frame option with colors was added.

Kollaborate can really scale beyond basic review and approval as it’s a whole workflow tool that production teams can use. It can also be run in-house with Kollaborate Server. Pricing is affordable even for a freelancer. The service does way more that just the review and approval that I use it for. The overview below gives more details.


Screenlight

Screenlight is another service with a look and feel similar to Kollaborate. I’m not sure which came first but the idea of a clean viewing space is implemented well.

review and approval screenlight interface commets

Screenlight provides a very nice environment in which to work. The ability to span a comment across time is a nice feature.

Pricing for Screenlight is affordable with both month-to-month and annual billing options. The small $9 / month annual billing offers 1 GB of space and should be plenty for a lot of freelancers. There are enterprise options available as well. Check out their Features page for an overview of the system. There are new features on the way which seems true with most all of these systems. You never know what might pop-up between logins.


Remark

Remark might be a new name but the service has been around for a while as they used to be known as First Cut Pro. I did a review of the service back in 2013 and a lot of things have changed since then beyond the name. The most notable thing from the old First Cut Pro is the new and updated Remark interface.

review and approval remark interface

The Remark interface is nice and clean only it’s choosing a black motif instead of white.

I haven’t used Remark since the rebrand so I asked Taylor Hou, one of the brains behind Remark, a few questions about the rebrand after First Cut Pro.

When and why did the service change from First Cut Pro to Remark?

We rebranded on Feb 1st, 2014 – we did it because although non industry people got an idea very quickly about what industry we were in (video), we didn’t gain any benefit with industry professionals as we were too similar to final cut pro. It even hurt us in some shops that had die hard avid/premiere users who wouldn’t touch anything that reminded them of fcp.

Remark also happens to be a very versatile word that until we came across it, we simply didn’t have a better compelling alternative to firstcutpro for a while.

Are there any new or unique features in Remark that other competitors don’t have?

From your blog post, Remark has been updated significantly. Primarily in the design department, our easy to use viewing experience for everyone involved in a project makes us a clear choice versus our competitors.

Not requiring users to double pay for storage and double upload is another differentiator that ends up saving time and money. Remark doesn’t have an option for users to upload to our servers. We found that the majority if not all professionals already pay for some type of cloud storage solution such as Dropbox, Box, Vimeo, YouTube, Drive, SkyDrive, Hightail, Copy, Wixia, and the gazillion other options. Why not leverage them and focus on collecting and managing video notes and making them actually useful?

A specific feature professionals always rave about is our ability to have frame accurate viewer sync. This is enabled when at least 2 viewers are in the same virtual viewing room and one can choose to sync with the other viewer. Instantly, they will be in sync and whatever the leader does and sees, the other viewer(s) will see.

No one can touch our autopause experience as it relates to automatically pausing and resuming the video intelligently when you start and finish typing.

Finally, and probably the most powerful feature is our ability to export collected notes as timestamped markers with who said what and what they said all accurate down to the frame and available for AVID, Premiere Pro CC, FCP 7/X, and Autodesk by proxy.

Our next design update is fast approaching and we’re embracing the mantra of mobile first. The future is mobile management of a project and being able to do everything on a phone is going to make things more accessible and convenient. (Attached are some mockups of our v3 design)

That’s a great overview of Remark. I want to try it out myself and see all the updated features from the days when it was First Cut Pro. Remark has several different pricing options as well. The Plus level seems like it would be most useful for editors as in includes data export in NLE friendly formats.

Next Up: Wipster, MediaSilo, Cage, Wiredrive, your own web server (and quite a few more).


Wipster

review and approval wipster interface

The Wipster interface looks quite a bit more whimsical than the more utilitarian interface of Kollaborate or Screenlight. It does look like it’d be fun to use. This screen grab is right from the Wipster site.

Wipster is another review and approval service that a lot of people swear by. I haven’t used it myself but know several that do. The Wipster How it works page is a good overview of this service.

review and approval wipster interface

The To do list aspected of making comments makes good sense.

Like the other services mentioned Wipster offers up a slight discount when billed annually. Unlike the others they gauge upload usage not by file size but by minutes per month that are uploaded. Also note the number of active projects you can have as the Starter plan with only 3 active projects might be an issue for some.

This little feature below is quite a nice one:


MediaSilo

I was about to put this blog post to rest when I saw this tweet that reminded me of MediaSilo.

MediaSilo isn’t new in this space and it goes beyond basic review and approval. It’s a whole sharing, media asset management and collaboration service. Just a look through the Features page will show you how much more MediaSilo does than client reviews. The biggest roadblock for users who were relying on Vimeo for review and approval will be MediaSilo’s price. It doesn’t come cheap but if all you want is R&A then MediaSilo probably isn’t the best option. I have a client that used MediaSilo for a long while and it is a very good service overall that does so much more than just review and approval. I’d love to work on a project that integrates deeply with MediaSilo to see exactly how it all works.


Maybe your own site or Dropbox?

Beyond what’s listed above there’s also the option to host videos on your own website but that is often its own world of hurt when it comes to compression and hosting. It’s so much nicer to let someone else deal with all the web server stuff. If you’re into that kind of thing then something like Media Batch could be an answer. Media Batch does have an installation service so that could be an option.

Many choose to send a Dropbox link to clients as that will play in a web browser.

review and approval dropbox

I’ve found the Dropbox player to be quirky at time and not the best option to send to clients. But in a pinch it is reliable.

I’ve always found Dropbox playback a bit spotty and the player rather clunky. If Dropbox ever implements some type of basic commenting system into view playback they could make a lot of users very happy. But here’s a comment that might make Dropbox work better if you’re going that route.

 

 


Stop the presses … a coupe of others.

Wiredrive has also been around for awhile but with their pricing starting at $99/month they are probably beyond the reach of most editors who relied on Vimeo private links for review and approval. Wiredirve does offer a lot of features though.

Here’s another new one called Vidhub.

I had never heard of Vidhub but from looking at their website it looks like a usable alternative. The Vidhub site doesn’t have a ton of information but they do have a free trial. I don’t even see a pricing page but chat says that the “free tier allows you two active projects per month.” Pricing will begin at $29 / month.

review and approval

Nice, clean and simple on the Vidhub interface side of things.

This is apparently a new service so looks like they are still getting their website up and running.

Oh … as this was about to go to “press” I saw this message pop in via Twitter:

And working with video?


UPDATE: After going live with this article we’d had several other review and approval services contact us that they too are out there provide a good service. I haven’t used any of these services but they too are worth taking a look at and even a free trial.

Sony Media Could Services and Sony Ci is a new one in this space. With a behemoth like Sony behind the service it’s definitely worth looking at. The basic plan is free for 5GB storage!


ProofHQ was another service I had never heard of. It looks to be very feature deep with a big client roster and some “140+ file types supported.”


7-15-2014 UPDATE: Frame.io was born today and you can now sign up to be one of the first to know when it goes live for general public consumption. We got a tease of it but it looks like it’s going to be a very full featured solution. Check out the demo:

I know some of the folks behind Frame.io and they are very savy media professionals who will no doubt make the service do exactly what we need it to do. From the video above it looks gorgeous. The team behind Frame.io built it for a few important reasons:

  • Managing a 100 private Vimeo passwords sucks.
  • Your clients cryptic feedback of “that brown thing around 12 seconds” never made sense.
  • Trudging through your email to find that download link from that person for that file. Ugh.
  • It’s 10PM and you don’t know if your edit is approved (or even viewed).
  • It’s 11PM and now you have to export and compress your edit in 25 different formats.
  • FTP’s.

All those reasons make good sense. And you’ll get things like:

  • Video transcoding in the cloud so you can upload any video format and never worry about playback compatibility. It’ll just work.
  • Version control so you can see what your project looked like 1 version ago or 100 versions ago.
  • Time based comments and video annotations so you can draw directly on video frames to accurately communicate your feedback.
  • A social layer with real time notifications so you can see exactly who’s doing what and when.

I like the looks of the compare view for viewing versions side by side.

We don’t yet know pricing or a launch date but sign up and you can be the first to know! 

And finally Vimeo’s new policy gave us a little sneak peek at the upcoming Frame.io.

Looks cool and sounds ambitious.


UPDATE: Xprove is another option. It existed long ago and I thought it had closed up shop but apparently it has not.


UPDATE: Wrapp is “a simple online tool for video review and approval.” With a tagline like that is has to be on this list! The Why Wrapp section at the bottom does look compelling.


Acclaim is another I had never heard of. The site says “The Video Platform for Education” but since someone said they use it let’s throw it into the mix as well.


Interdubs is another that I’ve seen a few times used by production companies to have a more branded site. The site says INTERDUBS “is a hosted service for client review and approval, sales reels and other applications that benefit from its unique set of qualities: INTERDUBS is secure, reliable, ultra fast yet affordable.” The site looks rather old but I love this quote on their list of Similar Services page: “As you can tell we are not overly concerned with our own branding. We rather focus on making our clients happy.” If you think this is a big list check out the list that INTERDUBS put together of similar Review and Approval services.


UPDATE: Ftrack is another for “production tracking, asset management, review and team collaboration.” 

And then there’s BackSpin. They say you can “share, review and measure video content securely.”


UPDATE: Sorenson Media of Sorenson Squeeze fame added a service a couple of years ago called Sorenson 360 that does many things including review and approval. From the Sorenson 360 website: “Sorenson 360 is a multi-faceted online video delivery platform.  Leverage the integration with Squeeze Desktop and Squeeze Server, and/or the native 360 Uploader, a cloud-based version of the Squeeze encoding engine, to easily upload, share, and publish videos. 360’s unique client review and approval functionality, comprehensive analytics, fully customizable players, and world-wide delivery to almost any platform or device set this OVP apart from the rest.” 


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Scott Simmons

Scott Simmons

Scott Simmons was born in rural West Tennessee and didn’t really realize that movies and tv had to be made by actual people until he went to college. After getting degrees in both Television Production and Graphic Design he was in one of the early graduating classes at the Watkins Film School in Nashville, Tennessee. During that time at Watkins he discovered editing. While most of his classmates in film school wanted to be directors, Scott saw real career opportunities in post production and took a job as an assistant editor after completing film school. In 1999, Scott took the leap into freelancing and in 2007 accepted a position as an editor at Filmworkers – Nashville. In 2005 Scott created The Editblog a website dedicated to all things editing and post-production which is now housed here at PVC. Someday he hopes to edit on a beach with a touch screen device, a wireless hard drive and a Red Stripe.

  • Jacek Zajączkowski

    And now you can add Symotion.co to the list also 😀