Online Video Collaboration Tools: A Buyer's Guide
Market7, Inc. makes tools that allow for collaboration in the editing suite. It uses an online player where comments can be added frame by frame and then tracked for completion.
We reviewed Market7 and its Annotative Player about a year ago. There were some wrinkles to work out, and the company has been hard at work in the meantime pushing forward with its second version of the player.
The new version has several features that enterprise and entertainment customers will find beneficial, including a pop-out function that allows users to view content in “virtually full-screen dimensions while still taking advantage of messaging and interactive features” used for collaboration.
In addition, like Adobe’s Story, Market7 has a collaborative script tool that allows for integrating media directly into a script. The script tool now has a dedicated upload window for large media files—such as b-roll that may accompany the script—to upload in the background while users continue to collaborate on the script.
Finally, the Annotative Player now sports multidevice playback capability. Content is transcoded into H.264 upon completion of upload to allow for playback on multiple devices, including iOS and Android devices. When the appropriate video format is determined, based on device capabilities, the most appropriate Flash- or HTML5-based content is sent to the current device. This feature allows team members to collaborate in the video editing and approval process while on-the-go, including interactive messaging on a per-frame and per-project basis.
On the mobile video editing front, there’s another product on the market called MIXMOOV. Created by French company Intuitivlab, the product focuses on ways to edit and publish mobile video.
Using a drag-and-drop online model that is based around Flash, MIXMOOV allows storyboard-based clip creation from any Flash Player-enabled device. For simple video editing, upload the clips, music, and photos, and then choose an AUTOMIX style and MIXMOOV will complete the AUTOMIX version of the video.
For more complex/refined edits, manually choose from a variety of options: text, transitions, graphics filters, animations, and a trim feature. Each of these is available on a per-clip basis in the storyboard timeline. When the video edit is complete—or complete enough to preview—click the Publish button and review the rendered output. This takes a few seconds or minutes depending on the complexity. If the clip is what you want, continue with publishing it to blogs, Facebook, or a few other social media sites.
The need to render and then return to the editing module reminds us that MIXMOOV isn’t threatening Final Cut, Premiere, or other nonlinear editing tools anytime soon. Yet, for simple transitions and basic cuts-only edits, there’s an ease of use with an online editor that makes sense for down-and-dirty edits.
MIXMOOV also comes with a REMIX module that allows for easy collaboration between editing partners. One partner can pick up where the other left off, without having to both be in the same video editing suite.
MIXMOOV offers private-labeled versions of the editing tool for service providers.
VUELIVE, best known for the LSVX video codec it launched more than a decade ago, is attempting a comeback with its video collaboration tools. The company’s codec is used in a number of instant messaging video chat tools, but the company wants to create an integrated solution for a variety of vertical markets.
To that end, VUELIVE reps asked me to assist them in a market survey of their technologies, which I recently completed. At the same time, the company has enhanced its delivery options for desktop and mobile devices, moving from a Java-based application programming interface (API) between its encoder, video server, and playback client to a more traditional player plug-in structure that allows iOS, Mac, and Windows devices to collaborate with one another.
Like MIXMOOV and Watchitoo, Inc., VUELIVE focuses on building a back-end solution that can be private-labeled. VUELIVE is the only company using its own codec for a number of products, including Broadcaster (one-way broadcast), Video Conferencing (multiparty desktop videoconferencing), and Producer.
About 2 years ago, VUELIVE launched the OpenACircle.com site as a working proof-of-concept subscription site using its own underlying technology. OpenACircle is set up with a circle, or roundtable, metaphor that has the capacity to view up to nine participant webcams at once, plus it has the ability to “promote” one of the webcams to view a particular webcam in the main window.
Unlike systems that integrate desktop sharing and videoconferencing features, however, OpenACircle separates the two into separate views, allowing for emphasis on one aspect of a meeting (face-to-face collaboration) over another (presentation). In addition, to address business meeting needs, a detachable agenda/notes/instant messaging chat module can be resized and placed anywhere for efficient screen use.
Watchitoo has a funny name and big goal: It wants to become the first real-time collaboration platform that ties together content sharing, live video streaming, and collaboration. Watchitoo users can draw from content sharing sites or upload their own content, viewing it simultaneously with a number of other Watchitoo participants. Up to 25 meeting participants can collaborate with bidirectional audio and video, but hundreds more can view the content in a traditional video stream.
The company provides a way to add anyone with a video camera and microphone (and the desktop Flash Player plug-in) to the conversation, and
its layout manager can be applied to a virtual videoconference environment. It dynamically moves participant video windows around to accommodate the new stream. Watchitoo also has a swap feature where the host of the event can choose to put any participant’s video front-and-center in a main video window. With the layout manager, the host can also predetermine how the windows will resize as additional people are added to the conversation, a nice feature for entertainment and enterprise controlled environment presentations (such as game shows or quarterly presentations).
The whole thing is powered by Flash (both the player and the media server) so Mac, Windows, and Linux participants only need to approve the use of their microphones and cameras—the basic security settings in Flash Player—to participate. In addition, PDFs, PowerPoint presentations, documents, and photos can be uploaded to create a playlist of content to be discussed or viewed during the meeting.
Watchitoo also offers high-quality recording functionality for sessions, and it even allows the host to decide which time slots to record, as well as which portion of the screen (or the entire screen if desired). The company offers private-labeled versions for on-premise/enterprise customers.
This buyer’s guide barely scratches the surface of a number of distinct video-centric collaboration tools, each covering a slightly different aspect of the production or enterprise workflow. While you may only be interested in one or two of the aspects, we recommend trying out free versions of any of these tools to see if a specific combination of tools might further enhance your own specific workflows.
For many companies, the path is clear: understanding, championing, and leveraging video collaboration for more efficient business models.
We take a hands-on look at the online editor WeVideo and find it the closest thing to a desktop application, but hardly fully-featured.
Proof-of-concept system shows that two-way mobile video doesn't need to rely on proprietary technology.