I shouldn't have to wait 6 hours to upload and share a trailer cut with a director.
That's what I said to myself at 2AM, while I was waiting for Vimeo to process my file. I wanted to pass my editor's cut to Josh before I went to bed because his schedule would allow him to provide feedback while I was asleep. We wanted to get the trailer out as soon as possible. This wasn't helping.
The trailer was for The Impersonators, a comedy feature film directed by Joshua Hull. It had wrapped a couple weeks earlier, and I had turned around a teaser in time for Labor Day Weekend. Still being early in the process, there were things in the post workflow that were being worked out. One of those things was sending screeners and previews to Josh for feedback. While we're both in Indiana, he's close to an hour away from my apartment. He was also on an opposite work schedule from me, and I was cutting at night anyway. There simply wasn't much, if any, time to get together for reviews. I was uploading previews to him, and he would be watching them mostly on mobile devices -- Android phone, iPhone, iPad. Rarely a desktop.
So I tried Vimeo a couple of times. I liked that I could password protect it. Even though it was optimized for their player, the playback was terrible on his end, particularly on the Android phone. He had to wait to watch until he could find an iOS device. And this was if Vimeo even bothered to upload the file.
I dabbled with YouTube as a last resort. It works, but it ain't pretty. I don't like the ambiguous Big Brother terms of service YouTube offers either. And a private video is almost certainly out of the question. Josh is tech savvy enough, but adding him as a YouTube contact and all the junk that goes along with that was more trouble than it's worth. All his devices would need to be logged in, too. So I used an unlisted link. Luckily Josh understood that an unlisted link on YouTube is not public, but it feels so close to the edge of public that it makes me uncomfortable to use it on anything important. Most of my clients would not be cool with unlisted YouTube links. It doesn't' feel legitimate anyway.
Not to be over-dramatic, but Screenlight appeared in my sights in my time of need -- when I was getting ready to output my first preview of the actual film itself. It was just a couple of scenes, but it was close to 15 minutes long. I was fretting. Which method? What if I encoded for Vimeo, and it wouldn't work on the device? I didn't want to upload the film rough to YouTube. But then, Screenlight came forth from the ether.
I'll admit up front that I really needed to share my preview, so I didn't carefully read the help section or FAQs. I took it at its word that it'd take whatever formats I threw at it, made a new project, and uploaded away. Even without the formal tour, I figured everything out in a couple of minutes. After all that time spent waiting for Vimeo to sling my bits and bytes around, I watched Screenlight take my fairly small but still sizable H264 encode of Scenes 1-4 and upload it with no issue. It looked good, playback was smooth, and there were no errors. WITCHCRAFT!
Screenlight allows you to add people to a project so they can log in and view things, but for this I needed to be quick. I changed a setting that would allow me to simply share a link with Josh, and anyone with that link can view the file. It's kind of like an unlisted video on YouTube, but with tighter control.
I sent the link along and hoped for the best. And to my delight, it worked fine. Great, even. I asked which device he viewed it on. The Android one, then the iPad. Played great on both. That's awesome, considering the Android's playback was so terrible on the other platforms. And so through my editing, I'd upload blocks of scenes, and Josh would comment, and we'd both exist in the same relative area, working on the same thing, without actually seeing each other for months on end. He can do his director stuff, I can be left alone, and we continue to collaborate. It's awesome.
One thing I really like about Screenlight is that they're always asking how the service can be improved. Any service that actually answers me and provides feedback to help while they fix the thing I said is a service worth considering. As an aside, I've tweeted Vimeo many many times about my issues. I shouldn't have to wait 6 hours to upload and share a trailer, but they don't really have an answer to that, I guess. Screenlight does!