This article first appeared in the December 2009/January 2010 issue of Streaming Media magazine. Click here for your free subscription.

For those readers who are involved in the production process, whether merely participating at the scripting level or working all the way through to the final edit, the art of collaboration has been a bit transitory.

More often than not, we find ourselves awash in a sea of paper. In preproduction, multiple copies of a script float around; in production, there are shot lists, location documents, and the various notes written on scraps of paper; and in postproduction and editing, we end up creating "paper edits" in which video clips are written down on a piece of paper and passed on to the editor.San Francisco-based Market7 bills its collaborative video platform as an invaluable timesaver for production teams, from the producer down to production assistants.

Like other online video platforms, Market7 has a nicely integrated video player. Unlike other online video platforms, this player is geared not toward distributing finished videos on the web but rather toward a group of users annotating and commenting on video clips in a way that moves beyond simple social media. More on the player later in the article, but let’s just say this up front: For those of us who might not be young enough to pull off an all-nighter, the Market7 annotated player might just be the best thing to come along this year.

Figure 1
Figure 1. Market7's account settings contain an account pricing module to compare between your current account level and a new level. It provides a "current cost" this month comparison between two account types.

"We were looking for friction points and blind spots in the market," Market7 CEO Seth Kenvin says. "We found several friction points between those commissioning services [producers, clients] and those who provide the services [videographer, editor]. Even the applications that are used by each group are different: The producer’s key apps are from the Microsoft Office suite, while the service providers choose their major tools from the Adobe Creative Suite."

Once Market7 identified the key friction points, it set about creating a collaborative platform centered on the three major elements: preproduction, production, and postproduction video tools.Like any online video platform (all of which fall into the SaaS category), these tools are subject to enhancements and updates in a much more timely manner than traditional desktop software applications. In update situations such as this, one of two things typically happens: Either the tools are dropped into the marketplace not yet fully formed, or they are posted as "beta" for an extended period of time—as was the case with Gmail, which was in beta for more than 2 years.

Reviews for print publications often have a month or more of lead time, so it’s best to mention that this Market7 review is based on two tests done almost a month apart: the first done on Oct. 7 at Pivotal Labs’ San Francisco offices and the second conducted Oct. 30–31 between two members of the Braintrust Digital production team.

At the outset, setting up a free account (Figure 1) is very easy. So is expanding to a paid account, which a producer would need in order to access more than one project, more than the initial 100MB of video clip storage, or more than five team partners. Market7 deserves recognition for having the free tool work just like the paid version.Because the company’s primary location is San Francisco, the current Market7 system reflects all times in Pacific time. Searching the "My Account" and "My Profile" sections didn’t reveal a way to change the time. As a result, comments in the scripts and annotated player will reflect a 3-hour difference from the East Coast, which could confuse collaborators in different parts of the country.

Let’s take a look at the three major areas: preproduction, production, and postproduction tools.

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