Wipster : The next generation of video review & delivery?

 

SPECIAL FOR BLOG READERS: Wipster has been kind enough to offer Cinetic Studio blog readers a special coupon code that extends the trial period by an ADDITIONAL MONTH. Use code CINETICSTUDIOS and check out why we love them.  

   Driven by the latest "cutting-edge" technology, our methods of working, collaborating, and communicating seem to change on a daily basis, especially in the field of video production. While that innovation brings a consistent stream new hardware, software, and workflows that can contribute to our efficiency, I do not feel it always does. How efficient it can be is based on how well that technology is implemented, in my opinion. Working in freelance requires both your work and your tools to be smart and efficient, so the search is always on for the next great tool \ service.

When I started working as a freelance colorist, I was surprised regarding the number of clients that were perfectly happy & satisfied to work completely remotely, with some type of accurate review (of course!). In fact, my first job as a professional colorist was acquired through a conversation on Twitter, and everything was handled remotely. With my background in IT, I've had plenty of experience working with clients remotely, but working with computers is a farstretch from the creative work of color grading or editing. With something as subjective as color and editing, communicating effectively and efficiently remotely is absolutely crucial to avoid issues and miscommunication(s) when it comes time to final delivery. Uploading a client review  to YouTube \ Vimeo with a password not only looked unprofessional, but wasn't efficient aside from getting an overall opinion. I would get feedback such as "It's looking good" or "it needs a little more work", but I did not get those crucial shot or scene specific notes and timecodes, unless I asked for them or they happened to provide them.  I was then introduced to the video review service, Wipster.

I was immediately impressed from the moment I logged in for the first time. It's unique and friendly user interface was very appealing,  and the "pop-up" style FAQ guides you through the entire service immediately upon logging in for the first time. It was more than I personally needed, as it was simple enough to figure out within a few minute, but it's nice to see the effort to be so approachable.

Once signed in, uploading videos for review and delivery is simple. You can upload video files directly from your local computer or connect to Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, Amazon Cloud Drive, and even FTP (which opens up the possibility of a neat "render to Cloud, auto upload to Wipster" workflow), . Once uploaded, videos can be neatly organized by folder(s) and you can "archive" them once a project has been completed. As there will inevitably be several versions \ revisions of an edit or color grade,  newer "versions" of the same video can be uploaded and tracked, without discarding any previous versions (and anything attached to them, such as comments).

WipsterUI
WipsterUI

Adding a recipients \ reviewers to a video is as easy as adding an email address to a list, and Wipster even provides an appropriately named "nudge" feature for those clients who require a little reminder to review and comment. Moving on to the actual "review" functionality, comments are as easy to add as a click of a mouse at the moment and physical location on the video where you would like your comment to appear. They even appear color coded by user, as you can see from the screenshot below. Each comment can actually be an entire conversation, marked consistently at the timecode and location on the video. You can only imagine how useful this can be with the intricacies of color grading and editing, for example: "that cut is a little too soon" or "please brighten up her face".

Finally, once the comments and conversations have been worked out, its time to get back to work on the revisions, based on the provided feedback. While I would like Wipster to have the ability to export the comments as markers that could be imported directly into my NLE (as some other services do), it does a great job of providing either a digital checklist or a printed list of all the comments with exact timecodes.

I personally load up this digital checklist, and go down issue by issue and check off the comments when they have been completed. It still gives you that good "I get to cross that sucker off" feeling after completing a task too!

PrintOut
PrintOut

Now, I just found out about this feature this past week and it adds an entirely new level of usefulness to Wipster. I previously only used the service as a video review platform, but after clarifying with their fantastic support team, they confirmed Wipster is fully intended to be a review and delivery platform. That means if you upload a high resolution "master" file, such as one encoded as ProResHQ or DNxHD, your client can download that EXACT file by simply clicking a "download" button underneath the player. No need for additional FTP hosting space, sharing over Dropbox, shipping hard drives, or any of the previous delivery hassles associated with remote creative work. Review and delivery consolidate in one platform, which is efficient and smart.

DownloadHQ
DownloadHQ

Now, what does it cost and will it be accessible to me? A thought I usually whenever I hear about some cool and new, but different. In this case, you can use Wipster for the whopping monthly cost of free. Yes, they honestly offer a free account with 15 minutes of video upload a month completely free (up to 45 via referrals), which you can sign up for right here.  Should you require additional minutes per month, personalized branding, HD, or the wealth of other features they offer, it is $15 per user a month. 

Overall, I've been using Wipster for almost a year now and I'm very happy with it. They have extremely responsive support, an easy to use user interface, a complete review and delivery system, and competitive pricing compared to similar services. I highly recommend you check out Wipster.io for your video review needs, even if just to try the free account to see if it fits your needs.

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Koji Advance Plug-in \ LUT Demo and Review

Film emulation is all the rage these days, from plug-ins to LUTs. Products like Koji Advance, Magic Bullet Film, FilmConvert, Visioncolor Impulz and many similar products aim to "emulate" popular film stocks to add a less "digital" look to your image, mimicking as if it were shot on film instead of a digital camera. Many would ask, "Why do such a thing? It looks so clear and sharp". It might sound like a strange idea but its easy to understand when you think about how pictures and "selfies" are typically shared: usually highly manipulated in some application like Instagram or Lightroom with a look that usually degrades the image in favor of a highly stylized feel. These "film emulation" type of plug-ins aim to do a similar effect with video, although to a far lesser extent than most of the photo based tools. The true accuracy of the "film emulation" to a specific film stock is always a big question, but its clear this hasn't been a detractor for many who enjoy using these effects for quick and easy color starting points.

For this review,  we'll be focusing on the Koji Advance plug-in and LUT package. The plug-in comes from the same team that developed Koji Color, a set of film emulation LUTs developed under the supervision of color timer Dale Grahn. The Koji Advance plug-in is compatible with Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, and Apple Final Cut X. However, they've also included a huge variety of LUTs, in case you want to do more manual color correction in DaVinci Resolve, Adobe Speedgrade, or any other application that accept 3D LUTs in a .cube format. 

Koji 2393, Source footage courtesy of Phil Arntz

Koji 2393 N, Source footage courtesy of Phil Arntz

As a colorist, I crave control over the colors in an image and that control is not usually associated with plug-ins, look presets, and other "shortcuts". However, my numerous tests with Koji Advance left me feeling surprising creative. As a benchmark test, I regrading a project I had graded with a Kojicolor LUT in Resolve, and I was pleasantly surprised how close I had come (ignoring the secondary corrections, power windows galore, and other fancy business done in the Resolve version). This is partially due to the fantastic looking film stocks available with Koji Advance, no matter if we are discussing the plug-in or the LUTs. Although there are only 5 film stocks to emulate (each with a few variations), I found these subtle emulations to be fantastic starting points for a huge majority of my color grades. A key aspect I've found important to film emulation is using it as a "starting point" and never assuming its won't require additional color correction or grading. If you are looking for a one-touch button for color correction, you'll likely be disappointed with this plug-in (and with most plug-ins, for that matter. It just doesn't work that way....yet). 

Koji 3523 S, Source footage courtesy of Phil Arntz

Koji 3523, Source footage courtesy of Phil Arntz

Moving onto the specifics of the plugin, it supports a huge variety of cameras and formats, both Rec709 and LOG. Essentially, if you have a somewhat recent camera, it is likely supported directly within the plug-in, but if not, they also support generic Rec709, Log, and Cineon options to cover you. White balance is offered within the plug-in, using manual kelvin (K) temperature or with the automatic function (which I found worked quite well for an "auto" function). Basic Lift, Gamma, and Gain controls allows you to adjust your image, should it be too dark or bright after the emulation is applied. Printer point controls allow for some quick but powerful adjustments over your image, should it have any type of color cast or white balance issue not fixed by the WB control. The appearance of printer points is a welcome addition, as its a control rarely seen in most recent color correction plug-ins or effects, except for dedicated color correction packages. Lastly, the plug-in allows you to add film grain to your image, sampled from a variety of different film stocks. Sliders for contrast and film grain saturation provide additional control over the look and feel of the film grain, allowing you to really customize its look and feel. 

 

Depending on your system specifications, your NLE, and your graphics card set-up, this plug-in may or may not play in realtime for you, especially if you have numerous effects stacked on top of it. However, most tests using both HD and UHD material played back in realtime using Adobe Premiere CC 2015 for me. I did not get a chance to test the plug-in is Final Cut X.

Koji 2393, Source footage courtesy of Phil Arntz

Koji 2393 N, Source footage courtesy of Phil Arntz

The LUTs provided can almost be seen as a bonus for most, as the plug-in is really the main attraction, but for some, these may be of interest. Having personally used these LUTs (and previous versions of them), I can easily say they are the BEST film emulation LUTs I have used, period. They are extremely subtle, never imposing a "look" I am forced into, and they work on a huge variety of formats and cameras (as they supplied specific versions for each camera \ format). 

As a quick note, I cannot state if the LUTS & plug-in exactly match the Kodak or Fuji print stocks represented, but I can say they provide a very pleasing image that seems similar to my research on the film stocks and several films that have used them. That being said, I cannot attest to their exact "technical" accuracy and in the long run, I do not think it truly matters to a certain extent. Many argue till end of days about film v. digital, and films emulation, but ultimately, I feel its all about the look and feel you prefer. I've found this product extremely useful, especially the LUTs, and would highly recommend it to those looking for a tool to help establish a good starting point for a color grade. 

I put together a quick video demo \ review as well, if you would like to see it in action. Be sure to check out the plugin at www.kojicolor.com.

Koji 3521, Source footage courtesy of Phil Arntz

Koji 3521 N, Source footage courtesy of Phil Arntz

Koji 2303 BW, Source footage courtesy of Phil Arntz