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Stroome's Collaborative Online Video Editing Now Easier

Stroome is back in the news, and this time it's thanks to a ground-up redesign that made user experience and user interface (UX/UI) a chief concern.

OnlineVideo.net first reported on Stroome a year ago, when the site was new. It's essentially Google Docs for video: a place where groups can upload and edit video collaboratively.

Stroome started as a class project at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. While it's been pitched as a resource for news organizations, it's open to everyone.

Co-founder Tom Grasty says that while the idea of collaborative editing got a lot of people interested in the service, they weren't sticking around after they looked into it.

"When they got to our site, the UX/UI didn't really deliver on the promise," he says.

That's why, with the help of a grant from the Knight News Foundation, Stroome recently relaunched with a fresh interface. Grasty's team read user comments and conducted focus groups to find out where the old interface failed, then built an all-new Stroome by creating a simple interface first and then bringing it to the developers.

The previous version wasn't user-friendly, but the new version communicates quickly what the site is, why it's relevant, and what you can do with it. Once they've arrived, people find it easier to search for users, content, or projects.

Since working as a group in crucial in Stroome, the concept of groups is more central now. It's easier to grasp and work with. Groups can be coworkers (such as journalists working in varied locations), citizen journalists, or even visitors to a site.

"Groups is really what distinguishes us from any other video editing site," says Grasty.

Social features have also been enhanced. It's now possible to follow Stroome users, so you always know what they're working on. Users can also send notifications to their community, handy when you need to ask if any of them have footage you need for a project. Clips can now be grouped underneath projects, and results can be pushed directly to Facebook or Twitter. Twitter integration is new to Stroome, while Facebook integration has been simplified.

There's no charge to use Stroome or any of its features. That may change in the future, with advanced features or storage space going for a premium, but Grasty is still working out what extras would be worth paying for. He may also one day offer a white label version of the software. For now, he's enjoying seeing how people use the site. There are no hard limits on storage yet, and there won't be as long as it's not an issue. People are working with video, audio, and photos on the site, Grasty says, but aren't loading an exorbitant amount.

Stroome is based on the Kaltura video editor, but builds on its own collaborative tools. Users can opt for the basic editor - which lets them make trims, add transitions, or load a soundtrack, or the advanced editor, which offers more fine-grained control and the use of voice-overs. Most people choose the basic interface.

"It's one of the things that motivated our own revamping of the site," Gratsy says. Consumers want a simple experience, so that they can quickly load content and make it relevant for their viewers. They don't need a bunch of bells and whistles, he says.

Troy Dreier's article first appeared on OnlineVideo.net

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