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kitkats

What's your technical process for (remote) client previews?

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There's a lot of options out there, and a lot of differing requirements on all sides. In the past we've been asked to send previews via private Vimeo, WeTransfer/YouSendIt, shared Dropbox folders, FTP, our own 'client area' FTP website…you name it. But generally speaking, these days people don't seem to care too much as long as they can see it and feedback via email.

 

My go-to method (which I do anything up to 15 times a day) is something like render out of AE to ProRes422 or lossless Animation, open this file in QT7, export an x264 Quicktime directly to Dropbox Public folder (which is open on my desktop all day), copy the link and paste it into an email. Sometimes I'll zip or rar compress the movie so it force-downloads from the email link. The lossless render usually gets trashed.

 

This method works fairly well most of the time for me and my clients. But it's not secure, it's not foolproof, it's not compatible with non-QT PC's, it's pretty crappy for batches, it has no 'read receipt' etc and feels a little archaic.

 

Just wondering what everybody else does. I feel like we should probably switch to an MPEG4 format at least.

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We use Wistia. It's reasonably expensive, but it has timestamping options. We use it for client preview and delivery. It does a lot more than just host and preview, but I've found that it's reliable, private, secure and convenient.

 

In terms of technical workflow, we export a "match source - high bitrate" mp4 out of Media Encoder, and upload that to Wistia. Job done, since the client gets an alert once the file has been successfully uploaded and converted.

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About 90% of my work is via remote. For about 5 or 6 years I've been a customer of Wistia, and use it exclusively for all aspects of reviews, delivery, and hosting of my work and client work as well if we have an arrangement for that.

 

After years and years I've developed a pretty tight and simple project folder structure. I remember years ago on Mograph someone asked about project organization and a member told of their simple method of just an IN and OUT folder. I kind of expanded on that simplicity and it works pretty well for me without layers and layers of folders and 100 character file paths. If anyone is interested I can share it here.

 

Initially, I will create boards / frames in AE and render to PSD's. The beauty of this is the project is already "built" via the board process. Then, I use Bridge to create a nice PDF of the PSD's. A trick I recently started doing is supplying the initial design boards in black and white. This really cuts down on nonsense discussion about colors and PMS and all that and allows client to concentrate on the substance of content.

 

Then, output a draft render to the project OUTPUT/DRAFT folder, usually full quality - but oftentimes half rez if it's heavy - into a codec like Animation or sometimes ProRes422. Then use my ancient Compressor droplet to crunch it down to a 720p Apple TV clip. This file/codec seems to have no issues with usability.

 

I then upload to the Wistia project page and notify the client with an email and link to clip/project. Most of the time, I set it up to be an "unlocked" project on Wistia so all they need to do is click the link to access. This is good especially when there are multiple stakeholders that need to view the clip. Other times I set it up "locked" and a password is needed to view.

 

Not to turn this into a Wistia promotion thing, but I really enjoy the analytics and metrics that are available to me. It allows me to see who is watching, when and how often. Also they have "heatmaps" to gauge interest in the videos and helps me predict areas of concern on their (client) end by showing parts that get a lot of scrubbing, pausing, and rewatches.

 

I also turned off all comments on the project page. I used to have them enabled with timecode links automatically set to the comment, but found that it often turned into a "me too" comment circus. I now require consolidated feedback via conference call or email. This cuts down on willy-nilly minutia revisions that seem to never end, and allows real discussion and less of a punch-list of uninformed creative backpedaling.

 

After the thing is put to bed, I can then use the project page to deliver the final. Everything is organised and there for all participants to access, but each user has settings to control what they can and can't access / download / upload / share. It can also be used to host the video and provide detailed metrics as mentioned before when they roll out the video for whatever purpose.

 

A bit long winded, but hopefully helpful to someone.

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Wistia looks good, I'd not heard of it. But presumably it's not much use for review purposes unless you're on the $100/month 'Unlimited' plan? Or can it work where you keep updating a single video when changes are made, so a single title sequence, for example, need only ever be 'one' video despite many revisions?

 

At this point, $100 a month is quite expensive to a small studio like us.

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For the most part, we just attach 960x540 mp4 files into emails. Works on iPhones, Android phones, windows and pc with no issue. Choosing the "Android tablet and phone" option in media encoder is our standard go-to.

 

We also use www.postspots.com ($30 / month) if it needs to be brandable or have a more professional feel for whatever reason, and www.wipster.io if we are posting single vfx shots and are looking for feedback. Usually, we just use wipster internally for making notes of hiccups or logging change requests, but every now and then we share the video with savvy clients who won't drive us insane with the annotation functionality in there.

 

For deliverables, I have a /downloads folder on our website that I upload .zip files to. Giving them a www.MySite.com/downloads/fileName.zip link is a one click to download process that seems better received than having to go to a wetransfer type page and download each individual element.

 

The FTP approach is by far the most inexpensive (free if you already have web hosting) and convenient approach IMO. If its just for viewing, uploading a raw .mp4 will just load up the video instantly on the viewer's phone / tablet / browser when the link is clicked. But we still have a postspots and wipster account for when those particular needs arise.

 

*Full disclaimer: I have been spending a bit of time with the wipster guys providing feedback, interviewing / group tests, etc and was given a free teams account for a year. I don't think its my place to share specifics of what is coming in their platform, but I will say that it looks like we will soon be getting rid of our postspots account.

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I pretty much use the exact method kitkats described. I usually send files either with YouSendit or Dropbox, sometimes posted to Vimeo with a password. For some reason it feels like it's an old, clunky method, but it still works fine.

 

I was getting some emails recently about a site called "Wipster" who offer an online service that allows clients to annotate your WIP videos and so on. Looks interesting, but to be honest, I find sending a preview file and having an email/phone feedback discussion is all that's required.

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There's a lot of options out there, and a lot of differing requirements on all sides. In the past we've been asked to send previews via private Vimeo, WeTransfer/YouSendIt, shared Dropbox folders, FTP, our own 'client area' FTP website…you name it. But generally speaking, these days people don't seem to care too much as long as they can see it and feedback via email.

 

My go-to method (which I do anything up to 15 times a day) is something like render out of AE to ProRes422 or lossless Animation, open this file in QT7, export an x264 Quicktime directly to Dropbox Public folder (which is open on my desktop all day), copy the link and paste it into an email. Sometimes I'll zip or rar compress the movie so it force-downloads from the email link. The lossless render usually gets trashed.

 

This method works fairly well most of the time for me and my clients. But it's not secure, it's not foolproof, it's not compatible with non-QT PC's, it's pretty crappy for batches, it has no 'read receipt' etc and feels a little archaic.

 

Just wondering what everybody else does. I feel like we should probably switch to an MPEG4 format at least.

 

Hi Kitkats, i'm one of the co-founders of Wipster, and I saw another person post about us, so I thought i'd give you an overview of our product. I'm an old school mograph/live-action guy who used to do the same workflow as you described; ProRes -> h.264 -> upload and share, get emails back from a variety of people at the other end. A year and a half ago I had a vision for a product where the conversation about changes and ideas happens right ON the video. You upload a compressed video, share with the right people (either the team inside the company you work with, or external clients) and they get to write their thoughts directly on any frame of the video. I got a technical cofounder, and then the rest of the team and we raised some investment and built Wipster. Now when we're making a video to explain a new feature, I get to hang up my CEO hat and get back to video making, inviting the whole team in to comment along the way.

 

This is how Wipster works:

 

You have your private account in the cloud. All videos you upload are private and secure. When you want to share an edit with one to many people, you invite them by email to that video. This creates a bespoke link that is emailed to them. When they click on it and watch the video, they can click anywhere on the video to make a comment. Because it's their personal link, it already knows who they are and their name automatically shows by the comment. No logins, this is vital for non-video people, it needs to be super intuitive (they also get an explainer box come up at the start of the video showing them how to comment).

When you've got all the comments in, you can either reply to them ON the video, keeping the conversation contextual with what you're saying, or you can click open the auto to-do list from the side and go through them all, ticking off the comments when you've either done the change, or you've thought about what they said.

At this point you'll want to upload the next version, this is as easy as dragging and dropping (or selecting from Dropbox) version 2 video on top of version 1 in Wipster. This creates a 'version stack' which you can shuttle between. This keeps everything tidy in the project. The collaborators are automatically invited to review this next version, and on you go up to version whatever. All the comments are kept on each different version of the edit/FX shot etc.

You also have project folders, so you can have multiple jobs happening at once, and when the job is over, you can take it into the archive, to keep on ice for ever (or bring back if the job comes alive again).

 

I think we're still at the early stages with this product, I'm pretty happy with the uptake, we've had over 6,000 guys/gals from across the world use us for their video projects, all the way from adverts to music videos to how to's and shorts.

 

Our vision for the product is to have a super simple place for videomakers to work from idea to delivery on their work, create a workflow that is so clear that is just disappears and allows the creative to get on with only the creative, not all the boring bits.

 

We have a two week free trial, have a go.

 

 

I'd really like to hear what you think about it, and any ideas about where it could/should be going.

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