In the mid-’90s forgotten classic, Multiplicity, Michael Keaton clones himself to deal with life’s many responsibilities. Who among us hasn’t dreamt of having several versions of ourselves to be in several places at the same time? The truth is that sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in a day. Fortunately, with modern technology and tech-savvy entrepreneurs, we’ve now ushered in an era of media collaboration software tools that allow us to be more productive and efficient. So, let’s take a look at 10 software tools we’re big fans of: what they do, their pros and cons, and how much you have to invest in order to get the most out of them.
Filestage is a dream come true for those who dread opening their inboxes on a Monday morning to find an Anna Karenina-sized email with notes from a client. This top-notch online proofing software assists teams in getting their work reviewed and approved faster with the ability to annotate directly onto all file types. Filestage allows users to view the progress of every review in one place, and provides time stamped approval from all stakeholders.
- Consolidated Feedback: Filestage saves users a lot of time by virtually ending the days of marking up PDFs, scanning handwritten feedback, and long emails.
- Highly Intuitive UI and UX
- Customer Service: Whenever there’s an issue, Filestage’s customer service jumps on it quickly and efficiently.
- Client Feedback: Filestage always listens to client feedback and often makes improvements based on those conversations, allowing clients to directly influence the quality of the product.
- Customizable Workflows, Task Automation, & In-Built Versioning
- Slow Load Times: When Filestage is used heavily, slow load times tend to occur.
- Client Confusion: Despite an intuitive user experience, some clients who aren't as tech-savvy may struggle.
- Bugs: Some clients complain about videos not loading, playing back, and/or not being able to scrub through them.
- Navigation: There have been reports that software navigation is not always very agile.
- Cost: Filestage’s pricing is on the high-end if the project in question is a sizable one. In the same vein, the Pro plan doesn’t offer enough features to justify its price-point.
- Clunky Mobile App: On-the-go quick response ability isn’t as sharp as using a browser.
Filestage offers three plans— Starter, Pro, & Enterprise— with prices ranging from $89/month to a TBD monthly/yearly price depending on your specific needs.
We all know that the world of graphic design can be a real head-scratcher, especially for designers when it comes to sharing their work with clients who may not be digitally-inclined. That’s where InVision comes in. This cloud-based digital product design platform helps development professionals and businesses of all sizes create and manage prototypes. In essence, users can collaborate in real-time, test, and experiment with designing templates and ideas on a modern-looking digital dashboard.
- Adaptability: InVision allows to quickly prototype full sites or small CRO changes on the fly, which can be viewed live, making the designer-client collaboration more efficient.
- UI and UX Simplicity: the tools available are boiled down to what a user really needs and nothing else.
- Built-in Animations: InVision’s animations for prototypes are excellent and very dynamic.
- All in One Place: InVision allows designers to create multiple "boards" or project pages within one screen.
- Simplicity: It usually takes just a few clicks for the prototype to be set up.
- Browser Only: There’s no app or on-the-go solution. InVision also requires users to upload their design, which means that certain special characters and diacritics in the filenames get ignored and may mess with the automatic sorting of your screens.
- Clunky and Slow: There have been reports of InVision being heavy and taking a long time to load.
- Difficulty in Versioning: Developers don't always like it when a screenshot is added because it may not reflect the design.
- Occasional Freezes: reports of users being ‘errored out’ are common. Also, once a project gets loaded up with multiple boards and animations, it can be hard to navigate.
InVision is completely free for individuals and small businesses. Those with heftier needs can look for InVision’s Pro Plan ($7.95/user/month) or the Enterprise Plan (pricing TBD).
In the ever-changing Hollywood landscape, Evercast is paving the way for the next generation of production needs. Evercast is the first real-time collaboration platform built for creatives by creatives. It combines video conferencing, HD live-streaming, and full-spectrum audio in a single web-based platform. In other words, Evercast is the David Fincher of software tools: it does every job on set and does it better than anyone. This software tool requires only a computer and is easily adopted across all stages of production. Users can securely stream any creative workflow (live cameras on set, Avid, Premiere, Maya, Pro Tools, etc.) with ultra low latency and uncompromising quality.
- High Quality Streaming: Evercast allows for full-spectrum audio and 1080p, 60fps video streaming.
- Streaming From Any Source: Users have the ability to stream directly from any software (i.e. Avid, Pro Tools, Maya, etc.) and even live cameras on set.
- Privacy: Evercast’s security protocol is approved by all major Hollywood studios.
- On-Screen Typing and Drawing: Users can collaborate with creative tools that enable them to draw and type, as well as create time-stamped notes.
- Recording: Sessions can be securely recorded and played back interactively. Each stream and webcam feed is captured individually in HD.
- No Locked Screen Sharing Feature
- Not available for iPhone/iPad or Android
Our flagship product for all your real-time collaboration needs, starts at $749 per month (per virtual room). Special pricing packages are available for larger studios or teams.
If you’re reading this article, chances are you know (and most likely have used) Google Drive. What you may not know is that the file storage software is also called ‘Google One’ under the company’s paid plans. Boiling it down, Google Drive/One is one of the slickest cloud storage and syncing services around. It lets you create, edit, store, and collaborate on documents and functions as a part of a larger software family that includes Google Docs, Sheets, Photos, and Slides.
- File Sharing: Physical distance has been rendered useless by how easy it is to share files and collaborate.
- Fast and Efficient Reviews: It’s easy to expedient and collect reviews from other users.
- Free Space Up to 15GB
- Constant Updates: Google is always releasing new updates for Drive, which helps mitigate occasional bugs and errors.
- Drag and Drop: This feature allows documents to be uploaded online fast and with extreme ease.
- Backup & Sync: Allows users to sync almost any file or folder on their computer.
- Interface: Google Drive's online design has improved over the years and is now more intuitive than ever.
- UI: The UI can be a bit complicated to understand for beginners.
- Public Folders: Anyone can edit and delete the files created by other users, a feature many believe should have some limitations.
- Lack of Clarity: Sometimes it can be difficult to find out what exactly is taking up space.
- Multimedia Features: They aren't all that robust. For example, there’s no way to delete double files except by eyeing them.
- Privacy: in a world which privacy is a major concern, Google collects information from your online activity to serve you targeted ads.
Aside from the aforementioned free plan of 15GB, pricing options start at $1.99/month for 100GB, $2.99/month for 200GB, and $9.99/month for 2TB. A higher-tier 10TB plan will set you back $99.99/month.
Frame.io is a simple solution for a very common problem in an era of physical distance: remote collaboration without compromising high resolution material. With Frame.io, users can upload footage and other digital media from one central hub, then make it available for team review and collaboration, whether they’re on the next room or the other side of the world.
- Review Technology: The software allows for time-stamped feedback on video reviews, making clients’ notes more specific and avoiding long and vague emails.
- Mobile App and Premiere Pro Integration: Allows for a drastic change in workflow and leads to clear productivity gains.
- Highly Technical: Frame.io often requires users to send clients an email covering how to use the software.
- Bugs and Server Issues: Many users report constant bugs that slow down reviewing or hinder the upload process altogether.
- No Android App
- Feedback Homogenization: Separating internal and external feedback is important, but Frame.io provides no such feature.
Frame.io offers four price-points which largely depend on the number of users needed. The software is free up to 2 users, and will cost $15/user/month up to 10 users, $25/user/month up to 20 users, and a TBD price tailored for custom needs.
Airtable is an easy-to-use online platform for creating and sharing relational databases. Think of it like a fun and colorful Excel with extra features. The user interface is simple, friendly, and allows anyone to spin up a database in just a few minutes. You can store, organize, and collaborate on information about anything, like employee directories, product inventories, and even apartment hunting.
- Easy Collaboration
- Many Templates: Those who are proficient can opt to create their own template from scratch, but Airtable also offers many pre-made databases for those who aren’t.
- Tracking Project Progress: The software allows users to follow how each and every department is doing and what tasks they’re tackling.
- View Options: Each user can choose their own view options and preferences, depending on their workflow. For instance, a user can view a project as a typical spreadsheet and then shift it to something akin to a database.
- Appealing Design
- Learning Curve: Even if a user is well-versed in Excel, it may still not be easy navigating Airtable, especially when it comes to the process of ‘copy/paste’ and highlighting cells.
- Lack of Formula Builder: Many users find formula building challenging and would prefer the software to have its own formula builder.
- No Auto-Refresh: The app does not have this capability. It needs to be done manually by each user.
As with most other software products discussed here, Airtable also offers different plans depending on budget and workforce size. The pricing is dependent on how many ‘records per base’ you require. In Airtable, a ‘record’ is like a row in a spreadsheet. So, that said, the software is free up to 1,200 records. 5,000 will cost $10/user/month, and 50,000 means chipping in $20/user/month. Their unlimited plan is TBD and will require contacting Airtable’s sales team.
Notetracks does exactly what you think it does. It allows creators and professionals in the music industry to review and annotate audio content. The software is only available for iOS and compatible with devices such as iPads, iPhones, and iPods.
- PDF Conversion: Notetracks has the ability to create and share a PDF of the notes you make.
- Built-in Tempo Slider & Looping Features: Helps musicians who need to transcribe or analyze instrumental parts or scores.
- Projects Can Be Shared Directly via Email, Evernote, Dropbox, Drive and More Markers: Creatives can assign markers to their tracks in order to access certain parts of the audio quickly
- Learning Curve: Notetracks isn’t all that intuitive and may take some reading in order to get a hang of all the features.
- iOS Only
- Incompatible with Some Bluetooth Devices
The app is available at the App Store for $9.99.
Asana is the LeBron James of project management software: it knows how to prioritize, integrate team members into the flow of play, and makes everyone around him look good. This cloud-based software is suitable for both long-term and short-term projects and allows users to create a virtual workspace that’s conducive to efficient collaboration. Asana lets a manager create tasks within the scope of a bigger project and then assign them to specific members of their team, while providing a deadline. On the receiving end, users get notifications in their inbox about upcoming deadlines and the status of their tasks.
- Prioritization: The software’s main focus is to keep businesses and organizations focused. Even the simplest task can be tracked and assigned a deadline.
- Third Party App Integration: Asana’s integrations include Slack, Dropbox, Salesforce, and Google Calendar, to name a few.
- Customer Service: Users report readily available customer service, including multiple training videos that help users learn about the different features and how to use them.
- Customization: The software features customizable dashboards that allows managers to track each task separately. The dashboard can also be used for job applicants, customer queries, and even group conversations.
- Learning Curve: The software features intimidating graphics and interface, which means that new users will require onboarding training, which can be costly and time-consuming.
- Decision Fatigue: Asana has an almost overwhelming number of features, which can lead to constant conundrums within small teams and/or single projects.
- Tasks Can Only Be Assigned to One Person: The Asana team believes that only one person should be held responsible for a specific task, so their software does not allow managers to assign a single task to multiple people.
- No Time Tracking: The software doesn’t track how long each person spends on each task.
- Export Files: Only JSON and CSV formats are available for exporting, while PDF and Excel are not.
The software is free for individuals or teams just getting started. For more complex operations, the pricing starts at $10.99/user/month and goes up from there depending on your business’ specifications and needs.
Sprout Social is like that friend you have who has a deep understanding of social media and is always looking for ways to monetize it. This software helps social media teams extract business value out of social media through effective engagement, publishing, and analytics tools. Sprout puts all social media profiles in one place, allowing businesses to run customized reports that show the analytics for single or multiple profiles (i.e. which posts are getting the most engagement). It also streamlines the entire process of replying to questions or messages stemming from different social media platforms.
- Multiple Profiles from Multiple Platforms All in One Place (including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and more)
- Customizable Features: For example, the listening stream can be customized so that you see whatever profiles or hashtags you want to see.
- Appealing Dashboard: Easy to use and has multiple types of views.
- Scheduling: Allows scheduling social media posts in advance and suggests the best times to do so based on past performances.
- Pricing: Listening tools are a separate cost and may become too expensive for some businesses.
- Limited Analytics
- Poor Customer Service & Technical Support
- No Auto-Scheduler for Instagram
The cheaper plan starts at $99/user/month and allows up to 5 social media profiles. Sprout’s most popular plan is a tier above and will set companies back $149/user/month. The most complete plan increases the monthly price per user to $249 and includes extra features like chatbots with automation tools, automated link tracking, and spike alerts.
We all have a friend who has the most beautiful handwriting we’ve ever seen. While we don’t understand how they did it, we just can’t look away. Visme allows you to get that beautiful handwriting, even if you don’t have it. In essence, it’s a data presentation and visualization web-based tool (which can also run offline) that helps users make their presentations and infographics compelling and visually stimulating.
- Stunning Results: Most users report visually arresting presentations and infographics, even when using it for the first time.
- Easy to Use: Even for someone with no graphic design or technical experience, Visme provides an intuitive experience.
- Video/GIF Integration: A game changer for people who incorporate video and/or GIFs in their social media strategy.
- Templates: Visme comes loaded up with several ready-to-use templates, smart icons, and other features that make it a rewarding experience for first-time users.
- Pricing: Fairly inexpensive given what users get in return.
- Privacy: In order to participate in Visme’s free training, clients must first agree to their terms of service, which includes being added to marketing lists.
- Lack of Options: More advanced users might get frustrated at the lack of features.
- Bugs: Some users have reported occasional bugs that slow down the creative process.
Visme offers four price-points. It’s free up to 5 projects and 100MB of storage. 250MB and 15 projects will cost $15/month (billed yearly), and $29 will get you unlimited projects and 10GB of storage. The highest tier offers unlimited projects up to 25GB of storage and pricing is TBD.
In a 1959 college address, then Senator John F. Kennedy explained that in Chinese the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other opportunity. Well, it’s undeniable that the current pandemic brought about global anxiety and collective trauma, but from a professional standpoint, it cast a spotlight on our work practices and inefficiencies. The above software tools emerged as practical and appealing solutions that will remain long after the pandemic is over. The opportunity presented itself and we might as well grab it.