Wipster – Client Video Sharing

It’s been quite a while since I did a lot of work for varied clients. Way back then it was a constant pain to share our edits with clients and get their feedback. We were either sending DVDs or uploading files to places like YouTube, then exchanging emails.

At the time I looked for better options, but nothing I found seemed affordable or usable.

Fast forward a few years and the work I do doesn’t really require that type of client feedback so I’ve stopped looking. Therefore I was surprised to learn about Wipster – a new(ish) web-based service designed to do exactly what I needed a few years back. Not only that, they are a Kiwi company!

Anyway, they gave me a demo account (but you can try it for free anyway) so that I could see what they’d made and tell them (and you) what I thought… So what follows is a review of what Wipster is offering and my thoughts on the services based on my reasonably varied post-production experience.

I also have two free one-year business accounts to give away — check the end of the post for details!

What is Wipster?

Let’s start with the summary. It’s good. For some people it will be great, even perfect. For others there are probably some niggles, but it’s still a lot better than uploading to Vimeo or YouTube and starting an email exchange.

It’s a visually appealing and very usable web service, with the typical Web 2.0 (or is it 3.0 now?) design style. Big icons, simple design, very usable. You, as a technically savvy editor-type, will have no trouble getting your work uploaded and your clients as… well… clients, will have no trouble watching your work and providing notes.

As I write this Wipster is just coming out of their beta period. They have clearly been responsive to early users and they’re offering a product that’s quite suitable for many varied user bases. Currently it seems focused toward commercial and corporate users, but it’s equally usable for television production and maybe even feature films.

wipster-1The workflow, as an editor, is simple. Upload a video file and share it with anyone you need to. They don’t have to be a Wipster user (they’ll get an email with a link). The client watches the video in a simple web-based viewer and can add notes at any point in the video. The notes aren’t just time-based, they can also be pointed at specific areas of the frame – they can tell you exactly which “guy in the back” they don’t like.

That’s basically it. It doesn’t got much more complicated than that.

But of course there’s more than that – you can get a print out of the notes, add replies to the notes (as can any other user it’s been shared with). Once you’ve addressed each note you can tick it off as completed so you, and your client, can see how you’re going.

After you’ve completed your next version you simply upload it over the top of the same file. Now the video shows as being Version 2 – all the people you shared Version 1 with are notified and can view you changes. They can also step back to the previous version easily. And so it goes…

Also, it’s not just you. With a simply company account you are able to create logins for all your team members.

Looking back on my work in the past I can see dozens of occasions when Wipster would have made my working life a lot easier, both in short-form commercial and corporate work, and in longer form television. It’s a great option for sharing work with various clients on an ad hoc basis, but equally useful for sharing cuts with producers and network executives in a television production environment.

In a few days of testing I managed to find a couple of good real-world examples with a few personal projects I’m involved with. Another editor I was working with, as well as a couple of clients, seemed impressed with the system and took to it with absolutely no coaching at all.

What’s Missing?

Now, of course, nothing is perfect – in my testing I came up with a handful of thoughts about what else I would like to see in Wipster, and I share them here so you can see what’s occurred to me in my usage…

  • Notes
    The notes on the video can be easily repositioned within the frame, but there’s no way to reposition them in time. So if you watch a scene and at the end think “that was too long” your note will probably end up on the following scene, unless you skip back a bit before making the note.
  • Player control
    There is only a play/pause button. No fast forward or rewind. The player has a position bar which you can jump around, but on a longer video it become difficult to be precise with positioning. If you just want to jump back a few seconds there’s no easy way to do so. I’d love to see some skip back/forward controls, and maybe even J-K-L control.
  • Volume
    The volume control is only a mute/unmute button. I have to use the system volume to control the volume I hear. For me that’s frustrating, but others may not mind.
  • Import/Export
    I’d like to be able to export and import markers from Avid, Premiere, FCP etc… Import markers as either notes or bookmarks/chapers, and export notes as markers. It’s complicated of course, because the notes in Wipster can be quite a lot more complicated than what you’d see in an NLE, but it would be handy.
  • Folders/Groups
    I’d like to have folders for projects as a simple organisational measure, but also for auto notification – every time I upload something to the “Bob’s Widgets” folder all my clients at Bob’s Widgets get notified automatically. Wipster have told me folders are coming, I’m not sure what functionality they’ll have, but at least things will be easy to organise!
  • An App!
    Personally I’d love an automatic upload app for Windows and Mac desktops. So many times as an editor I’ve had to sit around at the end of the day waiting for a file to export or a DVD to author so I could send it to the client. I’d much rather leave the export going, knowing that when it’s finished it will be uploaded and the client notified.

I’ve fed all those ideas back to Wipster directly also, so hopefully some may be implemented in time, but even without those changes I found the service highly usable and a great improvement over the way I’ve done things in the past.

What Else?

Wipster is designed for client feedback on finished edits, but I can see it being useful for other purposes too.

It could be a reasonably decent solution for dailies management, allowing the assistant editor to upload sync’ed rushes for various production staff to review online.

It’s also perhaps a handy place to share finished work with others when necessary. It’s secure and allows for personal invites to be delivered simply. Got a buyer overseas who wants to review your shows? Upload to Wipster and share. You could even add notes to the shows.

Win a Wipster Account

Wipster have given me two free accounts to give away. They are a full 1-year company account, each worth $499, allowing unlimited storage, unlimited team members and unlimited versions…

To win the account all you have to do is signup for a demo account on Wipster, upload a video and share it with me (wipster-at-dylanreeve.com). On the 10th of February 2014 I will randomly pick two users to win.

The content of the video isn’t important, although it has to be something – blank or nonsense videos will not be eligible. If you’ve not signed up for a full Wipster account you will be upgraded to one, if you’ve already signed up then you’ll get an extra year added on to whatever you’ve already signed up for.

UPDATE: Thanks for entering – the competition is closed now and the two winners picked randomly from the entries received were Alister Robbie and Jose Mathias! Congratulations. Everyone else is still free to signup a demo account on Wipster.