The current global pandemic has put a spotlight on collaborative working tools as the members of post production teams are required to work remotely from one another. However, even before the current situation, this practice was becoming commonplace for some aspects of the video and film process. Areas such as editing and digital visual effects are increasingly carried out by team members in different cities and even different countries.
There are a number of tools and platforms designed specifically to allow people to work on video projects in collaboration. However, not all of them are created equal. Some are suitable for small teams with limited funds while others are tailored towards large production companies which have budgets to match.
This article will look at some of the best video collaboration tools available today and allow you to make an informed choice as to which will best meet your needs.
Features you should look for
Using video collaboration tools, you can upload and share videos privately with members of your post-production team anywhere in the world. Most platforms will also allow you to share photos, documents and other file types as well. Different versions of project files can be stored and compared. Users and clients can review and annotate videos to highlight sections that need reworking. In the past, collaborative post-production required the use of a combination of different websites and programs. However, tools such as Frame.io, Vimeo, Filestage and Wipster are designed to provide everything you need in one location.
Assess your needs
Before you can decide which collaboration tool will best suit your production, you need to assess the needs of your team. How many team members do you have? And how many team members will need to be able to work on the project at any one time? How many reviewers will need access to the project assets?
Not everyone in a distributed team will be using the same devices. You need to ensure that the tool you choose supports all the devices though which users will access it.
A video collaboration tool must be secure so that your projects are protected. Privacy controls should allow you to tailor the access rights of individual users. That way you can restrict who can alter files and who can only view them, for example.
Video files are big and you can never have too much storage. The video collaboration tools below include different amounts of storage capacity as standard, but most allow you to purchase additional space as required. When assessing the relative cost of a particular tool you should consider how much storage you will need for your projects and any additional expense this may incur.
Frame.io was founded in 2015. It is used by more than 1 million creators including companies such as Netflix and HBO. Frame.io has a pricing structure designed to cater for any size of project, with its base package available free of charge.
The free package is limited to two users working on a maximum of two projects with HD playback but allows for unlimited sharing. Users can comment on and annotate files to give precise feedback directly on videos, images, PDFs and other files. Version management tools allow clips to be viewed side-by-side with frame accuracy to compare different iterations. The free package includes 2GB of storage.
The Pro package costs $15 a month per user for up to 10 users. In addition to everything in the free offering, it allows for unlimited projects with 4K Ultra HD playback. Sharing pages can be customized with your own branding and the Pro package includes 250GB of active storage and a further 500GB for archival storage.
The Team package is $15 a month per user and allows for up to 20 users. As well as everything in the Pro package, it offers invite-only private projects to limit access to works in progress. There is a facility for team-only comments kept separate from conversations with clients and collaborators. Notification emails generated by Frame.io can be customized with your own branding. Shared links can be set with an expiration date for added control over access to your projects. The Team package includes 250GB of active storage and 1TB of archival storage.
Building on the Team package, the Enterprise package allows for a custom-priced system to be tailored to the workflow of large organizations. It offers multi-team management with separate, private workspaces for each client or production with customized branding to match. Asset lifecycle management means that older files can be cleaned out automatically to control your assets and use of storage. The Enterprise package also comes with enhanced support and a dedicated Account manager from Frame.io.
Frame.io claims to be significantly faster at uploading media than most file-sharing services and is accessible across a wide range of platforms. It offers integration with all the major video editing software including Final Cut Pro X, Premiere Pro, After Effects, DaVinci Resolve and Avid Media Composer. Watch Folders for macOS is a download that enables fast uploading from your desktop to Frame.io while preserving your folder structure. Frame.io also has its own native iPhone app.
Vimeo is a platform with which video makers will be familiar as an alternative hosting platform to YouTube. However once users advance beyond the basic membership plans, Vimeo offers an effective range of collaboration tools.
The Plus plan starts from $7 per month and allows for video files to be shared privately and securely, however it is limited to only one user.
The Pro plan is the cheapest Vimeo plan to incorporate proper collaborative working and allows for up to 3 team members. The plan costs $20 per month, billed annually in advance. Vimeo state that they do not offer a monthly payment option for Pro or above memberships because the features of these plans generally lend themselves to long-term use.
Users can upload 20GB of video files per week with a maximum of 1TB each year. Videos can be shared for team members and clients to download at the quality of their choosing from unlisted review pages. Included tools allow for time-coded feedback to be gathered on rough cuts and to track approvals. Vimeo’s version history allows users to replace a video file with a new version but keep the same URL. Vimeo will also automatically save all previous versions, comments, and review pages along with their feedback.
For $50 per month, billed annually, the Business plan comes with 5TB of total storage with no weekly upload limits. It includes everything from the Pro plan but increases the number of team members to 10.
The top of the range Premium plan is $75 a month, again billed annually. It provides for 7TB of storage with no weekly limits and adds facilities for unlimited live streaming.
Vimeo has good levels of security with password protection, domain-level privacy and private link sharing. For the Pro plan and above, the platform also offers private team projects. One limitation of using Vimeo for collaboration is that the platform only permits the uploading of video files, not documents, images or audio files.
Vimeo can be integrated with Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X, Slack, Dropbox and Google Drive. Dedicated apps are available for iOS and Android to further increase accessibility.
Also founded in 2015, Filestage is an asset review and proofing platform which can be used for collaborative working across a wider range of projects than just video-based works. The company’s website offers solutions for pharma and biotech, scientific publications and marketing teams as well as video production. Companies such as LG, Sixt, Sharp and NBC Universal rely on Filestage to manage their content approval processes.
Filestage’s Starter plan costs $89 a month and enables up to 10 team members to collaborate on 15 active projects with no limit on the number of projects that can be archived. The plan includes 50GB of secure storage. An unlimited number of clients and co-workers can give feedback on files as reviewers. Both team members and reviewers have individual review dashboards as well as being able to access the team project dashboard.
Filestage allows for video, image, document and audio files to be uploaded, annotated, reviewed and approved. Comments can be added directly onto all file types. Versioning tools allow users to track and manage all file versions and client feedback through to final approval. To-do lists of tasks can be set up to ensure all feedback is considered.
For $219 per month, the Pro plan increases the number of active projects to 35. It allows for the creation of a project template to define the specific order, name and settings of the review steps. Files can be uploaded by external users and custom branding can be added to your projects. Private comments can be added which are only able to be seen by team members.
The Enterprise plan is designed for large teams that need maximum flexibility and control. It allows for the negotiation of custom-pricing with more projects, team members and project templates.
Filestage has integrations with Google Drive and Dropbox. It also combines with other collaboration tools such as Slack, Trello, Basecamp and Asana. Unlike Frame.io and Vimeo, Filestage does not have desktop or mobile apps and is only accessed through a web browser.
Wipster is a shared workspace designed for video makers and photographers.
The most basic Wipster package is free and allows for up to two team members. However, there is no limit on the number of reviewers who can review files through shared emails or URLs sent by team members. The platform support video, image, PDF and audio file uploads. The free package coms with 5GB of storage and video playback is capped at 540p resolution.
The Team package costs $25 per team member per month. Team members can be added or removed from the account settings inside of the Wipster app. The Team package starts with 250GB of storage and an additional 250GB can be added on for $12 per month. Video playback and delivery is provided at HD resolution.
Wipster allows users to add time coded comments to videos for frame-accurate conversations with colleagues, clients and reviewers. Version control tools ensure that feedback is added to the right version and prior versions can be easily reviewed to check historical notes. The Stages feature also enables the tracking of content through feedback cycles, approvals and final video delivery. Activity Notifications keep users up-to-date with the review process in real-time on the Wipster browser as well as via email and Slack notifications.
As with Filestage and Frame.io, a custom-priced Enterprise package can be negotiated for larger teams which starts with 1TB of storage. The Enterprise package can be enhanced with features such as Single Sign On (SSO), personalized training and API access to develop integration with a customer’s own systems.
Security and integration
Work is stored in Wipster’s secure video cloud which uses encryption and custom firewalls to protect sensitive content. Wipster can be integrated with a wide range of other platforms and services including Slack, Wistia, Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive and Amazon Cloud Drive. There is also a Wipster extension for Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects.
Collaborative working opens up opportunities for creatives around the world to work together more quickly, efficiently and effectively than ever. There are collaboration tools available for teams of all sizes, from those with only a couple of members all the way up to productions by global companies. Take time to ensure that you choose the platform which best matches the needs of your team and the scope of your project. You will soon reap the benefits which collaborative working can bring to your video productions.
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