There are various review and approval options for video pros out there, but finding the right one is about more than the nuts and bolts. Everyone wants to use something they're going to be comfortable with, but also know that it's going to be both secure and useful for anyone and everyone that uses the system. With so many options, it can be difficult to figure out which one might be the right fit.
We talked with Wipster CEO Rollo Wenlock to get a sense of what his product can and does offer their users, and what sets them apart from their competitiors. We discuss the challenges he's seen professionals struggle with, where Wipster shines and what's in store for their product and for the industry.
You can also check out the Wipster How it Works page for more info.
ProVideo Coalition: Wipster was “born with the idea that the rise of video means something.” How have you seen the rise of video impact the approach creatives can take and the mindset of audiences?
Rollo Wenlock: It’s the growth of companies using video that particularly interests us here at Wipster. There are a couple of interesting factors that have come out of this; first is the ever-increasing expectation for individuals to be entertained and educated by company videos (that is, a dry product video no longer cuts it). In order to develop a trusting relationship with a brand, people desire authentic communication, and there’s no reason why the online experience of a company can’t be a human experience. You can ‘meet’ the CEO, you can take a tour of their office, their manufacturing area, their coffee fields. Video is the only medium to deliver an authentic brand experience at scale. This means an increasing pressure on creatives and businesses to lift their game and delivery outstanding video experiences, all the time. If they don’t, they’ll quite simply be left behind.
As a result of that, we have now have a growing number of people (video producers and their collaborators and clients) working on video, and there’s a clear gap in the tool set for professional video producers, teammates and clients to collaborate together during the creation process. Traditionally, the video review and approval process has been inaccurate and inefficient, creating unhappy clients, misguided video, and freelancers with dwindling client bases. Businesses these days can collaborate with tools like yammer, Trello and Google docs and increasingly, they expect to be able to collaborate across all mediums, including video.
There’s a lot to the production and post production workflow…what are some aspects of that workflow you wanted to change or influence?
We want to influence a change in how video producers communicate as they are iterating their videos. There is so much value in sharing work-in-progress with teammates and clients as you move through the video creating and editing phases. We are not advocating ‘creation by committee’; we are advocating an open process to the final video. If your client is in a private review space with you and a handful of others, levels of trust and creative freedom become unlocked and you start working in harmony. We have spent the last two years perfecting this experience of feedback right on top of the video. Wipster stands for honest and joyful communication during the video creation process of getting from first cut to final.
What sort of challenges have you really seen professionals struggle with, and how have you seen them resolve those issues?
We hear a lot of horror stories about video professionals having relationship breakdowns with clients which sometimes leads to the project being cancelled. After all our research, we’ve discovered one key thing that successful video producers do every time: expectation management. Nine times out of ten, when a producer–client relationship is souring, it’s because they failed to set reasonable and realistic expectations, whether about the timeline, the budget, or the nature and schedule for the iterative process.
A classic case of client and producer having varying expectations comes with delivery of the first edit. The client is generally imagining a near-perfect video, needing only a few minor tweaks. In fact, the producer is delivering a rough cut with temp music, placeholder graphics and unmixed sound. The result? A freaked-out client whose feedback focuses on all the wrong things, and who has essentially lost confidence in their producer. To keep the feedback and iteration process on the right track, let them know that “Next Tuesday at 2pm we’ll send you the first of 3 edits. It’ll be a rough cut which means the timings will feel clunky, the graphics won’t be designed, and the music choices will simply show the direction we’re heading in. What we want from you is notes on how well the video is explaining the story, and what you think about the pace of the film and the length. We’ll talk about the other stuff in the next edit.” With that level of detail, the client’s expectations are managed, and the producer will get the type of feedback they’re after.
What’s the ideal situation for using Wipster? Where does Wipster shine?
Wipster shines when used to share iterations of a video from either animatic or edit 1 all the way through to final version and delivery. It excels when inviting key creatives from the production team and key stakeholders from the client side to collaborate together. Typically, we’ve found between six and eight people collaborate on each version and the video producer might invite different people depending on the stage of iteration. We have customers who get up to iteration 8 like this, each version with another level of polish, or an experimental element to it; the comments and conversations lead to creative exploration. This is the time when Wipster truly shines as an enabler of creative discussion and productivity.
What are some of the features of Wipster you’re most excited about?
From day one we’ve aimed for absolute simplicity within the app. We believe in the mantra ‘do less better.’ One feature that has remained very simple but which has incredible power is the ‘point and click’ commenting. When watching an edit, you simply click anywhere on the image, on any frame to provide feedback. This is automatically sent to everyone else in on the version review, which garners replies and agreement or disagreement. This very simple action saves editors from having to do redundant cuts, as ideas are resolved directly on the video, during the feedback stage.
Another feature we love for its simplicity is the automatic to-do list. All comments made on a video become a frame-accurate to-do list that you can tick off online, or print out and take into the suite. So simple, but so effective.
The last feature we (and our customers) really like is the ‘no login, no password, no plugin’ review for colleagues and clients. They receive an email with a link, click it and are instantly in the private review space, and when commenting on video, the app knows who they are. Close the browser and it’s all done.
In his Review and Approval Options for Video Pros article, our own Scott Simmons lists your service and mentions his favorite feature is the “nudge” you can give to invited reviewers. Is that something other users have gravitated to as well?
The Nudge is a great feature that works in tandem with the ‘viewed’ notification. A video producer often has anxiety about whether the client has viewed the latest cut. With Wipster you roll over their avatar and can tell at a glance if they have viewed the video and if they’ve commented. If they haven’t, click the Nudge button to send them a gentle reminder. It’s a really smooth way to manage a busy client who might be slowing down your post-production process.
The ‘cloud’ is a hot topic these days. Why is Wipster cloud-based and not application-centric?
One of the great powers of Wipster is that it works on any computer with a browser, no downloads or plugins required, which makes it really easy to get clients or other collaborators to adopt it, especially at short notice. We really feel that modern software should almost disappear, and just be useful. One doesn't think of Facebook as ‘cloud’ or ‘desktop’ software, it just exists, much like Wipster.
Currently Wipster is browser-based. What about mobile access?
We’ll have a beautiful mobile experience to share with you very soon. We’ve been working hard to make the mobile experience a simple one, without losing any of the power of the browser-based product.
How are you handling issues like storage, security, sharing?
We’ve built Wipster to provide a cohesive and secure experience. We don’t rely on outside providers. When you upload a video to Wipster, we encode web versions for smooth playback, and we store them on our servers across the world. We take care of all the review invites inside the app, sending branded email notifications to the right people. We send content-rich emails of comments with video frames to the invited reviewers. And we deliver the final high-res file when the project has been approved. We replace the disconnected range of singular providers that video producers are currently using. Producers no longer need to purchase other software platforms to share edits, get approvals, deliver final files and have a complete archive of all their work in the cloud. Wipster is as safe as your password. Everything is private, nothing can be found by Google bots, and everything is encrypted. We take security very seriously.
Let’s talk about the future – where is this all heading, both for you and for the industry?
The future! Flying cars and holidays on the moon, that’s where Wipster is going.
When we look into the future of the online experience, brands providing valuable video content that people care about will become even more mainstream than it is now. Every experience will involve a visual element, and many more people will be creating these elements. There will be an expectation for content to be engaging and well thought out and as creative competition in this space increases, the process of reviewing and approving media assets will be commonplace. I see a future where Wipster is the medium for sharing any form of creative content with collaborators and clients in a simple and intuitive way. Wipster has focused initially on video because we recognize it is growing faster than any other form of content and the experience of reviewing this medium is the hardest to get right (compared with imagery, audio, PDFs). The future will also expect apps to integrate with one another for a seamless experience and Wipster will be leading the way with its integration with other productivity apps.
The future is bright for creativity!