By Randi Altman
Just over a month ago, Wipster, a cloud-based collaborative video review and approval platform, officially launched after a deliberately lengthy beta program. Created by a filmmaker Rollo Wenlock, this product targets anyone creating video content.
With artists working remotely more than ever these days, as well as clients based all over the world, collaboration tools are becoming more important than ever, as evidenced by just how many there are out there in the market at the moment.
The tool offers the ability to comment and reply to feedback directly on the video; unlimited access to all versions of your video; frame and comment activity notifications via email; video sharing with an unlimited amount of people, regardless of whether or not they have an account; and unlimited storage for all videos. There are other aspects of the tool as well, but that’s at least a glance.
The product is now being used by Evernote, NBC Universal and The Omni Group, among others.
For this article, we decided to throw some questions at Wenlock (pictured, above) and find out more about Wipster, his background and where he sees this product fitting into workflows.
What was your inspiration for Wipster?
I’ve been a filmmaker and video maker for the last 15 years. I’ve had varied roles as a motion graphics artist, director and editor, but also as a business owner running projects. A recurring issue was that we couldn’t get the work signed off on fast enough. The client and colleague communication was disparate – it was through email, phone calls, meetings…there was no singular place to get it all done (which also made it a nightmare to refer to earlier feedback).
In November 2012, at 7am, I was looking out the window holding my newborn child. The sun was coming up and it hit the dust on the window. I could see the dust as a layer on top of the sun behind it. I suddenly thought, ‘Why don’t we make comments right on top of the video?’ I found a great team and we started to build the product.
What’s changed in the past couple of years in post production that has helped usher in the need for an app like Wipster?
When some of the first review and approval apps hit the market, they were a bit ahead of their time — relying on backbone technologies that people had either never heard of or didn’t understand quite yet. And when it comes to your creative assets, you’re not going to trust them to something you don’t understand. Fast forward a few years —with the introduction of Dropbox, Vimeo and of course, social media, the post production market became quickly accustomed to a cloud-based approach to working and collaborating.
The cloud has paved the way for new products that deliver exceeding value to be adopted at an alarming rate and, as a result, people have come to understand and trust the cloud much more. Resistance to the cloud is now very low, people understand it and have lost their fear of losing private data. Cloud computing is now just “computing” and is a powerful, flexible platform that has changed the way people work.
What is the typical Wipster workflow?
Wipster is used to share iterations of a video from the first animatic or edit all the way through to final version and delivery. Production teams work together on earlier iterations, and then clients are brought in to the discussion towards final versions and signoff.
How are you handling issues like storage, security, sharing?
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.
What are some of the features of Wipster that users seem to like the most?
The core feature is “point and click” commenting. When watching an edit, you simply click anywhere on the image, on any frame, to type your feedback. This is automatically sent to everyone else on the review, which garners replies and agreement, or disagreement, at a rapid pace. 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 popular feature based on 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.
The last feature we and our customers really like is the “no login, no password, no plug-in” 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. They close the browser and they’re all done.
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 simple, without losing any of the power of the browser-based product.
It seems like there are quite a few cloud-based review and approval products out at the moment. Can you talk about what makes Wipster different?
From day one we’ve aimed for absolute simplicity within the app. We believe in the mantra “do less better.” Wipster is a communication platform for reviewing creative work; if the reviewer is not having a beautiful, simple experience, we have failed. We are focused entirely on getting a reviewer’s feedback to the media creator with the least amount of resistance, and this is now proving to be our competitive advantage.
What’s next for Wipster? Where is this all heading?
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.
In the future we will be a medium for sharing any form of creative content with collaborators, not just video. We 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).
As we look to the future we expect apps to integrate with one another for a seamless experience, and Wipster will be right there with its integrations.