NAB 2015 had plenty of talk about the cloud and companies offering systems using cloud-based production solutions from the big names in the business.
But what if you want to work a little with a cloud platform to see how it might fit into your productions? Will you be ready to buy a license as in some setups that requires you to sink a lot of money in up front?
Digital Rebellion’s Kollaborate is worth a look. Setup is straight forward, and the buy in isn’t steep – the least expensive Freelance level sets you back only $160 for a yearlong subscription that enables up to five users per project.
But what is Kollaborate? Calling it a cloud workflow platform is a start. The technology works a little like Dropbox in that after you load footage to the Kollaborate server, it can be served to users wherever they are in the world as long as they have an Internet connection.
You can see the benefits right away: Easy collaboration and not worrying about the constant need for backups and security are two big reasons.
But just saying something is stored “in the cloud” isn’t new these days. It’s what you can do once your movies are posted there that makes Kollaborate interesting to someone in charge of a fast moving production.
Kollaborate gives you access clusters of computers to instantly render video, output it into multiple formats, and deliver it where you need to, whether its in town or the other side of the world. Again, the nice part is that you don’t have to invest in racks of equipment or worry about upgrades.
As the name suggests, Kollaborate is about collaboration, so how does that work? Say you’re watching a video and something has to be changed. Type in the comment box and Kollaborate is smart enough to insert the comment at the timecode position you first started typing. You can set up the app so that it automatically pauses and resumes playback while making a comment. If you submit a comment, the system notifies project collaborators via email and alerts in the Dashboard area-.
There are lots of task management capabilities as you might imagine. If you delegate tasks to others, you can be automatically notified of their progress on the task. Your comment can be turned into a task as you create it, which means that co-workers are instantly notified and can begin work on the task before you’ve even finished watching the video. Neat indeed.
Kollaborate integrates with today’s top NLEs, no surprise, since editing video smartly is what the whole setup is about. Digital Rebellion also makes a number of other apps that either integrate with Kollaborate now or will in the future. A good majority of the apps are Mac-centric. But that’s no surprise if you go on set or visit many a production house – the Mac has had a good part of the editor’s attention for years.
There’s a lot more too the app, but instead of drilling through all that info – which is easily found on the Digital Rebellion website in any case – I decided to put questions to Jon Chappell, Digital Rebellion’s CEO and the creator of Kollaborate.
Dan Ochiva/NYCPPNEWS: Collaboration products aren’t new. Users can turn to simple and inexpensive apps like Wipster and Takeoff to more elaborate solutions like Aframe to handle review and approval at sophisticated levels. What makes Kollaborate different and better?
Jon Chappell: We feel Kollaborate has many advantages over its competitors including:
* Scalability With features like department sandboxing, clientside encoding and the ability to host in house, Kollaborate works well in situations with large quantities of files or users.
* Roundtrip workflow You can send directly from your NLE to the cloud, get feedback from your team, and then import the notes back into your timeline as markers.
* App ecosystem No other company offers the same quantity and quality of helper apps. We took apps like Cut Notes and CinePlay that were already used on major movie and TV productions, and integrated them tightly with our cloud platform.
* Flexibility Upload any type of file (not just video) and upload in whatever manner best fits your workflow, whether that’s using our transcoder, copying to a watch folder or uploading directly from your NLE.
* In house option To the best of my knowledge, we are the only company offering users the choice of running our service in the cloud or in house on their own servers and storage.
NYCPPNEWS: The big NLE suppliers Adobe and Avid are also in the collaborative video production business. They offer solutions tightly integrated with their products. Again, why should someone consider Kollaborate?
JC: We offer far more features that the NLE manufacturers and in some cases one could argue that we’re more tightly integrated with some manufacturers’ products than they are themselves.
We also try to be as NLE agnostic as possible, which means that you’re never locked into a particular NLE, giving users a lot more freedom and choice. And if you buy Kollaborate Server you don’t have to worry about us going out of business, getting bought by another company or changing our prices or terms because you’ll still be able to access your files in house.
NYCPPNEWS: With Kollaborate, you offer many different pricing plans. What’s the benefit of that?
JC: Kollaborate can scale up to a large number of files or users so we offer pricing packages for both large and small productions.
NYCPPNEWS: Digital Rebellion also offers many different apps and resources that can be used with Kollaborate. Why is that approach useful?
JC: The main reason for this is flexibility. The apps can be aimed at specific audiences or use cases, allowing us to offer a wider range of features than our competitors while still keeping our user interfaces simple and optimized for the task at hand.