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).


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!


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.


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.


My workflow for exporting to Web for best quality

As an online editor, one of the most common questions I'm asked is, "how can I compress my film for web distribution, like YouTube and Vimeo?". Although this is an extremely complex subject that used to be its own profession, known as a compressionist, I figured I would provide some guidelines for best results when exporting a file for web distribution. While I'm showing these guidelines in Adobe Media Encoder CC 2015, these tips are are useful for any application that encodes H.264 (Compressor, Handbrake, Squeeze, etc).

  1. Encode a "master" file using a high quality codec such as Apple ProRes, Avid DNxHD, GoPro Cineform, etc. Anything that supports 10 bit and allows you to set 4:2:2 or higher color subsampling. This is the source video file we will use to convert to a smaller, web friendly H.264, as it tends to result in higher image quality than directly exporting to H.264. This "master" file is also a great file to archive for long-term backup, as it is far higher quality than the web version we will encode. 
  2. Using Adobe Media Encoder (or your chosen encoder that supports encoding H.264), transcode the "master" file to H.264 using an .MP4 (preferred) or .MOV container with the following settings:
  • Video
    • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 or 3840 x 2160 (UHD aka Online "4K") - you can reduce 1080 if you are using a different aspect ratio from 16:9, such as 2:35, to "cut" off the black bars, but they will likely be added back on most displays when played back. 720p is also acceptable to save bandwidth, but will slowly become obsolete as services update with technology.
    • Frame Rate: 23.976 (or 25) - depends on your location and how it was shot. Avoid adjusting from the source resolution, unless necessary. 
    • (Pixel) Aspect: Square Pixels (1.0) - unless you are encoding anamorphic for final delivery,  use the standard Square Pixel 1.0 for HD and UHD material. If Standard Definition, it may require a different setting like .991. 
    • TV Standard: Depends on your location. Check your source material, as it will usually indicate. 
    • Profile: High - This is a very important option, as many presets set this to Main. Make sure this is set to High for best quality. 
    • Level: 4.2 or above - 4.2 is generally good, as the higher you go, the less compatible it is with et-top players like PS3, Roku, Chromecast, and others.
    • Render at Maximum Depth - Checked (Adobe specific option) - This is another important option as it provides for higher quality color processing at the expense of encoding time. It is usually worth the small hit to render time, in my personal opinion. In other encoders, this may be shown as the "bit depth" used to encode. The higher the bit depth selected, the higher precision of color processing used to encode the file, at the cost of render time. 
    • Bitrate Encoding: VBR, 2 Pass - VBR 2 Pass will provide the best quality AND the best file size for that quality by reviewing the file twice, to most efficiently distribute data throughout the length of the file. VBR 1 Pass is still very good, although the quality may not be quite as high as 2 pass. CBR doesn't look at the file contents at all, just providing a specific bit rate at all times. 
    • Target Bitrate: 25-30Mbps - This is HEAVILY dependent on the content, with more movement and fast cuts (Ex: generic action films) requiring more data than something that slowly moves (Ex: generic romantic comedies). Also, the more grain or noise, the more data required to maintain that image without turning into a blocky, compressed mess. 
    • Maximum Bitrate: 50Mbps - This is the maximum bitrate the encoder can use, period. The variable bit rate may decide this exact moment is particularly intense and requires a lot of data, and this is a "ceiling" of sorts for the bit rate. 
    • Key Frame Distance: Unchecked - This can be used to force a keyframe every # of frames, but will up the data rate.
    • Use Maximum Render Quality - Checked if using ANY type of scaling during the edit (punch-ins, re-positions, etc), FX that scale like Warp Stabilizer, or exporting to resolution different than source. - This option greatly helps scaling quality, both when upsizing &  reducing resolution, and with effects that use scaling, at the expense of render time. If you are unsure, just enable it and deal with the additional render time for better quality. If you know you are not doing any scaling at all, effects of manual, leave this unchecked to save on render time.
    • Use Frame Blending - Unchecked


  • Audio Settings
    • Audio Format: AAC (or AAC-LC) - Compressing the audio to AAC is the preferred audio format for both Youtube & Vimeo. 
    • Sample Rate: 48000hz 
    • Channels: Stereo - Unless your audio is mono (single channel)
    • Audio Quality: High
    • Bitrate: 320kbps - This is a good audio bitrate for 90% of videos, unless it is a studio mastered audio track. 

I hope this quick breakdown of my H.264 encoding workflow helps with your own encodings. I encourage you to experiment with the above and tweak them to fit your own content and preferences. Please leave any comments, thoughts, and feedback below, if this has helped or given you some ideas for your own workflows.