The 5 best online tools we use to produce video

When we engage with potential clients, we are often asked how we manage to make videos the way we do. This post will show you the tools we use, that making videos a dream.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - making videos is easy - IF you have the right tools at your disposal. We have spent years refining our processes and choosing only the best online business tools to run our day-to-day operations. We aren't getting paid to endorse these people, in fact - it's usually the other way around...

1. Skype

Everyone has heard of Skype. Is it perfect? No. Does everyone use it as the premiere video-chat software? You betcha. Skype, for all its flaws is a great tool for contacting people when the face-to-face is not possible. 

How do we use it?

As an agile, digital company - Skype is a key part of our internal business systems. We jump on calls and use the chat function with our international staff all the time - it's a program that pretty much everyone is familiar with.

(It's a verb now! e.g. 'let's Skype on Monday')

Any client we can't meet with face-to-face, Skype is our next best thing to get our faces in front of theirs, even on a laptop screen. 

2. Dropbox

Good old Dropbox. The 'Original Gangster' of cloud storage, in our opinion - it's still the best. Dropbox's strength is in its simplicity. Its interface is clean and uncomplicated, and it works. 

How do we use it?

Once we engage with a client, the first thing we do is set up a sharable Dropbox folder. This acts as our 'hub' and conduit with the client. We have found that Dropbox is the most accessible medium, particularly in government - which often have restrictive security parameters when accessing files.

The Dropbox hub acts as the storage space for all collateral in the video project. Primarily we upload scripts and eventually final drafts of videos into Dropbox so clients can deploy on their own channels.

We also gather logos, typefaces, fonts via Dropbox - it's the easiest way to get the necessary collateral for on-brand video production. 

3. ProofMe

ProofMe is one of many collaborative proofing tools online. It's a very easy and clean interface and best of all - it's cheap. The free 'Creative' tier gets you pretty much what you need, and $10 per month is definitely worth extra storage and file formats .

Users can easily annotate and comment on pictures and videos, without having the need to sign in. It integrates with Gmail, Slack and tonnes of other programs to integrate seamlessly into the creative process. 

How do we use it?

We use ProofMe for storyboard and sketching and video draft review. In the early stages, we invite our clients to look at and comment on electronic copies of hand-drawn sketches of scenes for our animated videos. Here, they can approve or comment on improvements to be made to scenes and sketches quickly and easily.  

Later, clients can comment and suggest changes to videos. It's really easy for us and them to pinpoint where changes should be made in the video, and for us to agree and get cracking!

4. Trello and Asana

We all need a dedicated area to organise the troops and reach milestones. Both Trello and Asana are used by Video Spartan, depending on the project (but not both at the same time on the same project - that's madness!)

Ok, but do you prefer one?

Not really to be honest. Trello is great because of its simplicity and acts as a good tool for agile project management (scrums and sprints). Its strength is that it can take the very complex moving parts and make it very simple and linear.

I like Asana because it's constantly improving its interface, and I happen to be a 'list' guy. Asana bases its project management around comments and lists, assigning tasks accordingly and ticking them off. Great for a more predictable and straightforward project.

So it's horses for courses really, but I'm a horse that likes both courses! 

5. Video hosting platforms

So. Many. Choices. 

YouTube is the 'big daddy' and works pretty much everywhere on the internet. Drawbacks? Thumbnail suggestions when you upload are usually terrible, and ads. 

Vimeo is definitely the best interface for uploading video and has carved out the niche as the 'filmmakers medium' for online video. When I think Vimeo, I think HD, 4K, drone shots and top-end production value.

Wistia - the 'business' video hosting platform. Wistia are an innovative company with a great learning library of tools that help out all types of business. Their hosting capabilities integrate useful things like lead generation and detailed analytics, as well as enterprise hosting (specifically for businesses that host videos for their clients). You can also personalise the players' colour scheme to make it as 'on-brand' as possible.

Which one do we use?

All three! We're not wedded to a single platform here, purely because they serve different purposes. If having three was a distraction or inefficient, we would definitely consolidate, so we don't.

We use our Youtube channel for 'vlogs' that accompany blog posts and to showcase our animated videos.

We use our Vimeo channel primarily to mirror the Youtube channel, but also to send potential clients (e.g. government departments) to, so they are not bombarded with ads and other useless fluff.

We use our Wistia channel to host videos for other businesses and provide analytics for them as well as allow the option for customised players. Wistia definitely has the slickest and quickest feel to a video when clicking play. 

These are the keystones to our business's day-to-day operations, and what help us keep on top of our work with minimal fuss.

What formats do you prefer? Do you agree with our list, or think we should scrap it and start again? Let me know.

Until next time,

Pete

PS - if you love the process of how a video is made (or do now after reading this) you might enjoy working with us and sharing this post.