Exploring Video Review and Approval: Arc 9

The latest in creative content collaboration and workflow tools.

Arc 9 Review and Approval - Annotate and Compare clips
Arc 9

As tools for running a small business get simpler and more affordable, freelancers and production companies alike are looking to their workflow tools to streamline their client interactions. In recent months we have looked at a variety of review and approval tools for video pros, and as this space continues to heat up it is important to keep an eye on the key players in the space. We've looked at Wipster in the past, and mentioned frame.io as well, but we are now going to look at perhaps the most established of all video collaboration tools: Arc 9

Before diving into the product, what are some key reasons to consider this kind of tool?

Well, there are plenty. As any of you who have ever made a video for somebody else knows, whether you've done it professionally or as a home video producer, the medium is subjective. Everyone has a different idea of how they would like to see a final product. Maybe a logo needs to be larger, maybe a closeup shouldn't be on screen quite so long. Whatever the changes are, communicating those changes can be a challenge. Simply saying "the closeup on Judy is too long" may not cut the mustard. If a particular video is an interview, there may be fifty closeups on Judy. A plethora of very specific information needs to be communicated, and a back and forth dialogue needs to be established.

Fortunately, this is exactly where today's review and approval tools shine.

While we don't have Arc 9 in our own workflow yet, we were fortunate enough to catch up with Arc 9 CEO and Founder, Melissa Davies-Barnett.

What is a review and approval tool?

Melissa Davies-Barnett: We believe that the review and approval process is central to the creative process. And it is this process that inspired the development of software applications to deal with the process.

Traditionally, feedback and approvals on projects was gathered through email, screening and location based meeting. This is expensive, messy, error prone and generally very difficult to manage. There are simply too many details critical to the success of a project. You need a central, integrated platform to get it all done!

With the Arc 9 platform, our review and approval tools - while central to the process - are just one of the many attributes we contribute to the creative project management process. In Arc 9, the review and approval process is managed and organized, and the creative content becomes the canvas for feedback. And to make things even easier, we support all media types, so teams don’t have to worry about where the content is coming from or what format it’s in. It all just works, so you can get to work.

With Arc 9, you can annotate directly on every frame of a video, on still images and design files with drawing tools, shapes and text. You can drop a pin and comment about a detail and make global comments.

Arc 9 feature set also includes management tools to filter each person’s comments. Clients are integrated privately in our private client portal, which is designed to focus their feedback and allow your internal team to communicate with each other on details.

Arc 9 reviews are grouped and threaded with visual renders and there is a robust set of tools to organize, export and manage the review process of all the assets in a project that is tied to your delivery schedule.

ADC: Are tools like Arc 9 just for big studios or should video pros at all levels be using a platform for collaboration?

MDB: Arc 9 was developed to help teams of all sizes succeed. If you’re working on a project, and there’s more than one person involved, you need Arc 9.

Arc 9 is one application to help teams manage, collaborate and present creative content. In our experience, we’ve found that all teams are more productive when they have all the tools they rely on available to them in one workflow.

Arc 9 integrates with a lot of applications to provide a creative platform that can be customized by the user with endless tools and connectivity.

At Arc 9, we understand that video projects involve creative content that is not just video. The process usually starts with a design brief, storyboards, director treatments - these are all part of the process and teams need the ability to collaborate on these files as well. Additionally projects include assets that are being used in all different media. So to make things simple, we decided to support all media types. That’s makes life so much easier for creative teams! 

ADC: How does Arc 9 integrate with popular editing platforms?

MDB: Arc 9 integrates with Avid, Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere Pro, which means the team can instantly export the review and approval stream directly to the edit bay, where an editor can simply drop it into their timeline and see it in context with their cut. This is a huge time saver.

Arc 9 also manages versions allowing you to compare unlimited cuts, side-by-side and in sync to compare video and audio tracks. Arc 9 also has a feature to upload attachments to your cut so your NLE can be tied to each version. This makes delivery more efficient for final assembly.

ADC: How important is Arc 9's integration with NLEs to seamlessly fitting into a pro workflow?

MDB: It’s actually very important because it represents a major time and hassle savings for everyone on the team. Editors pull the entire project together, and on any given project, there are a lot of people who have important creative input and there is no room for error. With Arc 9, editors have the ability to organize and manage feedback with visual contextual images that are marked and integrated into the timeline which saves so much time, reduces technical headaches and eliminates errors. And the fact that Arc 9 integrates with ALL the major NLEs is huge too. We’re the only ones supporting all the popular editing platforms, so this makes it a no-brainer for creative teams.

ADC: Arc 9 sits in the now-white hot review, approval and collaboration space. With so many new companies racing to join this space, how does arc 9 differentiate themselves?

MDB: Arc 9 is actually not a single function app. It is really a holistic approach to creative workflow. One platform to manage, collaborate and present creative content.

With Arc 9 you can manage projects, assets, teams, clients and vendors. You can collaborate on all media types with robust review and approval tools where your content is the canvas for communication. You can create presentations that are unique to your identity with custom branding for work in progress review and approval, pitching new work or showcasing your work.

The beauty of Arc 9 is that even if you are looking for an application to just create presentations, or managing a project, or just review and approval, it is still a more cost effective solution for the individual features.

Arc 9 has also integrated a lot of other applications that creative teams use and love, and this really sets us apart, as Arc 9 is really a platform to integrate all of these tools in one workflow.

We have integrated with products like Dropbox, box, Google Drive, YouTube, Vimeo, as well as editing and design applications like Photoshop and Illustrator. We integrate with communication applications like Slack and Spark, and we offer social media tools to manage and schedule social posts. Through integration we allow a user to combine all these tools in one workflow. We believe teams are for more production with all the tools in one workflow.

ADC: As the space fills up, does Arc 9 have plans to expand its offering?

MDB: Arc 9 is continually developing features. There are a lot of inefficiencies in content creation workflow and we aim to develop and integrate tools that allow content creators more time to create. Our development pipeline continues to grow as users come up with ideas of features that would streamline their workflow.

ADC: Many readers are looking at taking the plunge and starting their own video production company. Would Arc 9 be part of a successful set of tools for a company to launch with?

MDB: Arc 9 is the only application that incorporates creative content management, project management, review and approval and presentation. Arc 9 is also the only platform with integration that allows you to expand and add features like task management, brainstorming tools, time tracking, accounting tools and more.

For a start up, Arc 9 is robust toolset with expandable features. You can start with a freelance or small team account that is cost effective and expand as you grow. You can add all the processes you need tailored to your individual needs into one workflow and create a really productive creative pipeline.

Arc 9 simply, and elegantly combines every aspect of your creative content management workflow in one place, on one platform. At the end of the day, collaboration is the key to great creative, no matter the size of your team, and no matter if your company was founded yesterday in your garage, or if you’re an established global agency. Arc 9 is for you!

Lifewire.com thanks Melissa for taking the time to speak with us about Arc 9 and collaboration tools in general. From what we can tell, this is one of the better rounded review and approval tool, integrating with all major platforms and conforming to a plethora of workflows.

Is a review and approval tool in the cards for your business? Is Arc 9 the right tool for you, or are you shopping around the space for just the right fit for you?

Keep it locked to Desktop Video here at Lifewire.com for the latest on today's best collaboration tools.