Online Video Review Tools Compared
There are a plethora of video review services available to filmmakers today, seeking to help them collaborate on projects, gather client feedback and do a lot more besides, and all the while in a much more efficient fashion. Most of these cloud based video review services compare themselves to the ‘broken’ old alternative of using free services like Vimeo or Dropbox and long email chains of ‘confused’ client feedback.
Personally, I’ve used Dropbox and or Vimeo with emails or phone calls for many years and it is a workable system. But continuing with something just because it works ‘OK’, isn’t a great way to do things, and especially not a way to give your clients, or yourself, the best creative experience. In this post I’ve sought to provide a quick and accessible comparison of the main services I’ve encountered, and the highlights of what each one has to offer.
More Services Added – I’ve updated this post to quickly include a mention of three new services (see Even More Client Review Services below) that are all worth checking out as well. As an editor, there’s a lot to choose from and a lot of passionate, talented and ambitious entrepreneurs behind each of these services, working very hard to make your life easier!
UPDATE August 2016 – This post has gotten super long over time, so here are some shortcuts to each section:
From what I can tell, in the video review services world, the two main horses to back might be Frame.io, partly because they’re gaining so much money from investors, and partly due to how quickly they’re updating and improving the service. Secondly, could be Kollaborate because of the wider eco-system of apps that add a lot of value to using the service and Digital Rebellion’s filmmaker-centric approach to the kind of features they provide.
That said, Wipster’s unlimited storage and projects for only $15 a month potentially represents great value for money, especially for the low-budget filmmaker, or solo-freelancer. This of course, doesn’t mean that Look At or Screenlight aren’t strong choices either. Basically the market is incredibly competitive right now and everyone whose in it, has something good to offer. Hopefully the following information will help you make your own choice, more easily.
As a quick aside, I’ve not gone into detail on Vimeo or Dropbox, assuming that most readers will already be using and/or familiar with them. Also when looking at the table above, it’s not as simple as it looks, as I’ve had to condense information to make it accessible.
For example, one service’s version of exporting comments might be to an Excel spreadsheet (LookAt), whilst another’s might be to NLE markers that you can import directly into your timeline (Kollaborate/Screenlight). Another’s task management system might run on a clever but light weight system of hashtags (Frame io) whilst other’s are more fully fledged dedicated systems in their own right (Kollaborate). So if you really want to square off the services, you’ll have to dig a bit deeper, for yourself as this post is already long enough!
Comparison Chart Terms – Here is a quick explanation of some of the less obvious terms in the chart above:
External Links – Being able to send viewable links to people outside of the system.
Version Stacks – Being able to drill down through previous versions and keep them all organised.
Compare Versions – Being able to compare versions. Only Frame.io and LookAt provide a direct side-by-side visual comparison.
Task Management – Being able to assign tasks to team members and chart their progress.
Private Folders – Being able to hide certain media from certain people.
Encryption – Ensuring the files secure in transit and on the server.
UPDATE – Even More Client Review Services
There are so many options available to creative’s today when it comes to these kind of online video review services. Rather than completely re-write this mammoth post, I’ve just added a quick update here with some of the other options I’ve found.
Be sure to check out the latest features section below this one, to see what the latest improvements are to the main services covered by this post. For example they now pretty much all have Premiere Pro panels to allow you to use their service, inside the NLE.
If there was one client review service that could potentially out perform all the others, it could be ftrack.com. Sure you can do client review but you can also do time and talent management, complex group task management and a whole lot more. They also have Adobe app integration with Premiere Pro, Photoshop and After Effects. Where as the other offerings are aimed for squarely at editors, ftrack seems like it’s trying to envelope the whole production process and provide a wider range of tools that producers and supervisors will find indispensable. They also have some swish looking mobile apps for it too.
With its dashboards, spreadsheets, scheduling tools, lists, custom attributes, filters and more, ftrack truly gives you the perspective required to manage any project from start to end.
Pricing wise ftrack is $20 per user per month, but there’s also a free trial so you can check it out ahead of time. It looks like a seriously impressive system.
framez.com seem like relative newcomers to the video review services world, but they seem to be off to a good start given the user stats on their site. You can do all the things you’d expect to be able to do when it comes to sending out a video and getting notes back on it, but with a few other useful features too.
Manage customer expectations by defining milestones and requesting customer approvals as you cross them. You can even have Framez bill your customer automatically when a milestone is crossed.
Pricing is at $49/month for the ‘freelance’ package, although they do have an entirely free plan that includes 3 live projects and 10 collaborators.
Movidiam is a slightly different beast all together given that it allows your to connect with a global database of filmmaking talent and bring a project together from scratch. You can of course also do video review and check in on everything from their mobile app. Check out their nicely produced explainer animations above and below.
You can do so much with Movidiam I thought it best to paste in their features list to give you a broader sense of what they’re aiming to deliver. If you’re looking for work where ever you are in the world, it’s also probably worth signing up for free and creating your own profile, so producers can find you and hire you. Who knows it might make you rich!
Client Video Review Services – Latest New Features
In putting together this article, and speaking to the various creators behind each of these services, it is immediately clear that each and every one of them is passionately seeking to add real value to filmmakers day-to-day lives and the creative community as a whole. They also all care deeply about their own brand and product. This is probably why all of them are adding new features, offerings, partnerships and utilities as they race to win user’s hearts and minds. As I’ve said before, this is an incredibly competitive space and they’re all serious players.
So to try and keep this article as up-to-date as possible, I thought I’d add a quick section on the latest new features from each of the services.
UPDATE – August 2016
Frame.io recently released their new and award winning iPhone app, to allow you to access the functionality of the service from the convenience of your pocket. The app is so well designed that Apple decided to give it one of it’s coveted Apple Design Awards, which it only bestows upon 8 apps (out of the hundreds of thousands on the App Store) each year.
They also just announced a new integration with Slack, a team messaging platform.
Wipster has released an After Effects panel, similar to it’s Premiere Pro panel, that brings it’s offering directly into the app. They have also improved the Premiere Pro panel with an update to the feature set in July 2016.
UPDATE – JULY 2016
You can now learn the detailed in’s and out’s of working with Frame.io in a brand new Lynda.com course by Ashley Kennedy.
UPDATE – April 2016
Kollaborate 2.0 – A major new version of the service is now available featuring the following improvements. You can check out a nice little gif-based article over on Digital Rebellion with all the finer details.
- Notification overhaul
- File management improvements
- Hoverscrub thumbs
- QuickLook / peek in folder
- To-do comments
- Adobe Premiere extension panel
- Web Hooks
- Storage boost
- Major architectural overhaul
Look At just launched version 3.0 of their client review service with several new features, including one that I’ve not seen anyone else provide – 360/VR video support. They also had added seamless integration with file sharing platforms like Dropbox, Box and Google Drive. As you can see in the gif above, they’ve also added side-by-side version comparison which makes it really easy to compare cuts. Find out more here.
Frame io has announced that it’s hit 90,000 users and just released a further 75 updates and improvements to the service, including a new comments panel and button, pause/resume uploads, downloadable comments and still frames and much more. The video above goes into further detail about what’s new in the latest version.
Frame io has extended it’s offering in a major way with the release of it’s new Premiere Pro extension panel, which brings much of the full functionality of the service, directly into the NLE, along with some really cool new features. Some of the headlines include:
- A shared cloud bin that multiple editors can work from
- One click import and export of sequences, project files, and entire bins.
- Real-time comments directly in your Premiere timeline with no marker syncing
- Auto versioning for rapid iteration on creative ideas
- Comment marker syncing for when you do not have an internet connection
- Sync’d playback in Frame io and your Premiere timeline
In the demo video above, Frame io CEO Emery Wells gives you a quick tour of the new functionality. You can check out it out in a lot more detail here.
Rollo Wenlock, Wipster’s founder and CEO kindly sent me this video he made in response to this post, to layout a few thoughts on Wipster’s core features and the heart and ambition behind starting Wipster in the first place. There’s also a few tidbits on where he thinks things are going. Thanks Rollo!
After announcing their new partnership with Vimeo (see below) Wipster have also completely updated and re-designed their main Projects Screen, they also recently posted this great collection of tips and tricks to get more out of using Wipster.
Pro tip: If you’re on Chrome or Safari, the browser will send the most ‘internet power’ to whichever tab is active. So if you leave Wipster running in a background tab while you do other work, Chrome/Safari will automatically slow the upload down. Keep Wipster running by itself in a separate window for best results.
In a further update Wipster now also has a Premiere Pro panel integration. You can read all about it in more detail here.
Wipster – Just announced a partnership with Vimeo which allows you to host your work on Vimeo and make full use of the Wipster workflow. They also have another exciting development coming out very soon.
LookAt – Just updated their comparison feature to a useful side-by-side viewer. They also have some really good integration elements in the works, especially for higher end apps, and a very unique new feature coming soon. None of which I can spell out right now.
Frame IO – As far as I can see their latest update is the inclusion of emoji in your client feedback. This might prove dangerous or might be a helpful way to take the edge off constructive criticism!?
Kollaborate – I know these guys have got stuff in development, that I can’t mention right now either.
Key Differentiators – Online Video Review
Having been in touch with the creators of the five video services being compared in this post, I invited them to send me some info on what they felt were the biggest differentiators between their product and the others on the market. Here’s some slightly trimmed down versions of what they had to say…
LookAt is the only service that enables groups for a video. We come from the post production world and so we know you probably don’t want your client in your production discussions, or sometimes you want the director and editor to have a private place to discuss their thoughts, and your client might want to create a private discussion of their own. This is what LookAt is all about. We see the production process as something that is based on parallel groups discussing a project from their perspective, with the people they choose as the group.
A very important feature that our users find crucial is the ability of a reviewer (someone you sent the video to) to not only watch the video but also give comments and see other’s feedback, even if they are not signed users. This is a key feature to why users will use such a tool and not Dropbox or Vimeo.
Accelerated file uploader (faster than Aspera or anything else on the internet as long as you are in a supported region). For now that region is the United States but we are expanding it globally in the next few weeks. In practice, we see uploading about 5X faster than Dropbox and up to 30X faster than some of our direct competitors. When you consider an upload that may take an hour on Frame.io VS 5 hours on Dropbox or significantly longer elsewhere, it’s a big deal…
Importantly, we always store the original file for download so you never have to go out to separate file sharing service like WeTransfer or Dropbox when you need to share full res assets like ProRes or camera original files.
This is also significant if you compare us to some of our direct competitors who offer “unlimited storage”. The ones who do are not intended to store large files and their customers don’t store large files on those platforms which is why they are able to market “unlimited storage”. When you actually try to get huge files on them you’ll find A: It takes way too long so not worth it B: if you’re only uploading compressed MP4 for work in progress review, those files are not very large anyway. C: They cap individual file sizes to something quite low like 2 or 5GB. Our current individual file size cap is 50GB and increasing soon.
No feature difference between plans – Some competitors have feature-limited lower plans, which means that you need to pay a lot more if you have a team and are not a freelancer. With Kollaborate, we only limit storage and the number of users, so features such as custom branding are available to every plan.
Live collaboration – Watch videos live with your team members’ playheads synced to yours.
NLE integration – Export directly from your timeline in FCPX and Premiere. Import notes back into Avid, Premiere, FCPX and FCP7.
Professional features – Some competing services don’t support professional features like timecode. We see this as essential so Kollaborate automatically detects it and uses it as a point of reference.
Host in-house – Customers with specific or sensitive requirements can host in-house on their own servers and storage. As far as I know, we are the only service offering this choice. This allows you greater customization, unlimited storage space and nothing ever touches our servers.
The review experience comes first – Collaboration tools fail when the people you are sharing with don’t use them. We keep the review UI as clean and intuitive as possible, pushing off from the YouTube reference point that most people are already familiar and comfortable with. Threaded comments are approachable and understood by everyone. Videos are encoded so that reviewers won’t experience jittery playback or compatibility issues. Screenlight works on any browser or device so there’s no friction for reviewers that want to provide feedback on the go or in an older version of IE.
Customer-Centricity – Screenlight gives priority to its customers, allowing them to essentially ‘whitelabel’ the Screenlight product in order to represent themselves in the best possible light to their clients. We’re here to help our customers shine.
Clear vision – We don’t believe in over-extending our offering. We aren’t interested in being a cloud-based editing tool or a marketplace to sell editing services. We want, however, to be the best solution to the problem of gathering client feedback during the editing process out there. We launched way back in 2011, we’ve spoken with thousands of editors, and have been refining our vision and product based on their feedback ever since.
Comment export – Screenlight is the first review and approval service to create a marker import Add-on for Premiere Pro that makes it easy for editors to bring client feedback right into the timeline. We also export text files for Media Composer and nicely formatted text files that you can use to cross off tasks as you complete them.
Online Video Review Pricing
In trying to put this post together, it’s proved tricky to do an exhaustive comparison, when there are both subtle and substantial differences in the products and services. Hopefully by gathering some of the key information in one place, you’ll quickly get a sense for which product will best serve your particular needs. As most people factor in price pretty quickly, here are each of the services’ price breakdowns.
Client Video Review Services Compared
It’s pretty interesting to watch all of the intro videos of these video review services back to back, not only to get a sense of what each one can do – which will be a covered in more detail in the ‘how-to’ videos below – but to also get a sense of each company’s personality.
It immediately becomes very obvious what’s important to each provider in terms of style, substance and how they present themselves to the world. Frame io definitely has the slickest looking website, where as Wipster are clearly more of a fun crowd. LookAt appear to be the plucky underdogs who are innovating, and Kollaborate, the no-nonsense serious engineers delivering reliable solutions. Screenlight feels like a streamlined, yet tried and tested offering. That’s just my two-cents.
This approach might help you find the service that will fit you best, if you like to judge a book by it’s cover!
Video Review Services – Features
Of all the services, I would wager that Kollaborate is currently the most feature rich of all, given that it contains a whole ecosystem of apps and services, and has the most detailed feature list to pick through. It’s also a tricky thing to compare the services as apples-to-apples, as some of them have unique features that the others do not. For example, Frame.io has a companion app for FCPX which allows you to work in tandem with the NLE, whilst it also has a transfer utility and watch folder capability, which Kollaborate also has.
The following links will take you far deeper into the Feature Lists of each service.
Video Review Services – Tutorials
To give you a sense of how each of the services works, and to see how easy they are (or not) to operate, a quick viewing of these intro tutorials will give you a firm foundation to get started from. It’s also a good way to see, stylistically, how the services differ.
Which Service Do You Use?
If you already use one, or more, of these services, why not take 30 seconds to share your experiences with everyone else and fill out the picture on what each one has to offer.
If you are one of the creators behind these services and want to add some extra info as your product develops, please feel free to comment or answer questions below too.