Monday, August 20, 2007

Video production collaboration

Last week I wrote about collaborative databases with This week I take a look at another collaboration technology from a new company called that is geared towards video production and editing teams.

Everyone these days is shooting video and thinks of themselves as video producers and editors. And while it is great that more video content is now online, much of it is either unwatchable or uninteresting. But I come here not to judge all these budding Bergmans, but to tell you about a tool that can make it easier to work together with your team and better produce these videos.

The idea isn't new, but what Cozimo offers is. Let's say you shoot some video footage and want to show it to a bunch of people who are spread all over the landscape before you release it to the general and unsuspecting public via YouTube. You can email a copy of your video to your team, but this isn't very satisfying, and especially these days as many filters routinely block big file attachments. Ideally, you'd like your video to be stored in some kind of collaboration system itself, so you don't have to worry about where the most current copy is housed. And this system should allow your working team to gather together online and view, comment, and make adjustments to the footage.

You want to make comments on particular segments, frames, or portions of the video, and make them in near-real time, such as what might be done via an IM text or voice chat session. That is what is at the heart of Cozimo, and what is lacking in many of its competitors. For those other applications, you'll have to run a separate IM network. That is cumbersome, because you can't store the commentary with the actual video footage itself.

Ideally, you'd like your collaboration solution to have some elements of a lightweight content management system that does version tracking – so you can go back and review an earlier edit in case that was more appealing – and workflow elements too. You want to be able to direct the job to a particular person, who must complete some task before sending the video to someone else. General collaboration tools such as Notes and Sharepoint have had these features for a long time, but don't support video content specifically.

Finally, you want to be able to use just an ordinary Web browser to access this tool, without the need to have any additional desktop software.

As I said earlier, there are plenty of people already in this space, some that come with pretty deep pockets or heavy Hollywood industry following. Autodesk has its, which has one problem because it requires a Windows client to access most of its features. Also, it is really designed for architects to share AutoCAD files rather than general videos. and both offer support for a wider variety of content types than just AutoCAD documents but don't have much in the way of workflow besides some general email notification features when one person is done doing some particular task. And -- which supports just video files -- has too many different components to make its workflow component really effective.

I haven't spoken about the price for these services. Some of them are pretty inexpensive to start out but then the price quickly climbs as you add workgroup teams and start consuming storage. For a gigabyte of online storage is $50/month for 12 workgroups (but an unlimited number of users and files) and even their most expensive plan is $150/month for 5 GB of storage. is $100/mo for a single workgroup, but then things start to get pricey. Wiredrive charges $250/month, and several thousand dollars for setup fees. And of course Autodesk is at the top of the cost charts with about $1,000/month for 100 users.

If you have any experience with these products or something similar, drop me a line or add a comment here.

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About Me

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David Strom has looked at hundreds of computer products over a more than 20 year career in IT and computer journalism. He was the founding editor-in-chief of Network Computing magazine, and now writes for Baseline, Information Security, Tom's Hardware, and the New York Times.