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Kollaborate Server 3.0.2 pre-release available with improved Docker integration

We've now got a pre-release version of our self-hosted workflow platform, Kollaborate Server 3.0.2, with significant improvements to the Docker scripts. We've tested it internally but need some extra feedback on how the Docker scripts work in certain environments.

Docker changes

  • Environment variables have been moved to a separate config.env file to make future updates simpler
  • LetsEncrypt integration allows you to easily setup SSL encryption
  • A proxy is now used to route HTTP and Websocket data to the correct services, increasing the compatibility of Synced Sessions with certain firewalls / network configurations
  • Kollaborate Server now has a local mail server for sending emails directly from the server, although you'll still need to setup things like SPF, DMARC, reverse DNS records, etc, at the domain level in order for emails to get past spam filters.
  • Improved performance when macOS is the host OS
  • Fixed an issue where special characters may not display correctly
  • Fixed an issue where thumbnails may not display

Other changes

  • Deleted files and projects can now be restored for up to 30 days, up from 14
  • Deleted file events now appear on the History page for a project (only project admins can see this)
  • You can customize the port that the websocket server listens on and allow Kollaborate to connect to it over web ports (80 or 443) if it's running through a proxy. Connecting through standard web ports increases compatibility with firewall and network configurations. (Note: our apps currently assume the websocket port is always 8000; we will be releasing updated versions of our apps shortly that respect the new settings.)
  • Fixed an issue where folder link recipients couldn't view comments in certain situations
  • Various minor backend tweaks

See the release notes and setup guide for information on installing from scratch or upgrading from a previous version.

Kollaborate is an essential cloud workflow platform that allows you to share files with clients and team members while integrating with Digital Rebellion apps and services. Kollaborate Server allows you to host the platform in-house on your own servers and storage. To find out more, see the Kollaborate Server overview or register for the free cloud trial (Server trials are available on request).

Posted by Jon Chappell on Mar 23 2020 to Kollaborate, Front Page News, DR News
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Business continuity during coronavirus pandemic

Due to the ease of remote working in our industry, many of our customers are continuing working during the pandemic and so we wanted to make a statement about the continued availability of our services.

We have always been a remote and nimble company so the coronavirus pandemic does not change our business operations in any material way. Customers should therefore expect services and support to continue as normal.

If you're looking for a way to help in the fight against coronavirus, we recommend people with fast computers download Folding@Home to aid in scientific understanding of the virus. We'd also recommend people contribute to Mozilla's Common Voice project, as this pandemic will likely accelerate the need for non-touch machine interfaces like voice.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Mar 14 2020 to DR News, Front Page News
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New tool: generate widescreen image mattes quickly and easily

We've got a new webapp on the site: Aspect Ratio Matte Generator. This allows you to generate a transparent PNG image with black bars at the top and bottom to mask video to a certain aspect ratio.

While there are image packs like this already on the internet, the creator of such a pack has to try to anticipate all the resolutions the end-user is likely to need in advance. This means you may need to resize such an image if the pack creator didn't create one for the specific resolution you're working at. The advantage of our tool is that you can create one on-the-fly at the exact image size you need. It also supports aspect ratios less than 1.0 (i.e. with black bars at the sides), if such a thing is desired.

This tool is completely free and works in modern web browsers.

If you like this tool, check out our other webapps, our numerous products for video professionals and our cloud workflow platform.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Feb 6 2020 to DR News, Front Page News, Utilities
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Kollaborate Server 3.0.1 - Docker integration, hide comments, file pinning and more

Last week we released Kollaborate Server 3.0.1 - a major update to our self-hosted workflow platform.

Docker integration

Both Kollaborate Server and Kollaborate Encoder are now integrated with Docker, allowing them to be run in a container. We know some of our customers in the past had difficulty getting everything setup, so integrating with Docker allows for considerably simpler and faster installation.

In the next update, we are planning to make the software Linux-only, so Docker will become the only way to run the software on a Mac or Windows computer. For now, customers on macOS/Windows can use the latest version on their existing installations but will need to switch over to Docker in order to use the next version. We recommend all new installations on macOS / Windows to be via Docker. (Linux users have the choice of installing manually or via Docker.)

For more information on the Docker integration and converting an existing installation to use Docker, see the installation guide.

Hide comments from certain users

You can now choose to hide others' comments when creating a link or when editing permissions for a team member. This means the person can only view comments they made and replies to those comments.

File pinning

Pinning a file or folder makes sure it always displays at the top of the Files page, regardless of how files are sorted. This can be useful to highlight important files to your team.

Mark as Viewed / Unviewed

You can now manually mark a file as viewed or unviewed by you.

Better searching

Advanced Search now populates your current search when you go back to it, so it can be edited or tweaked.

Additionally, we've added new criteria for you to search against: Tag Value, Is Pinned, Version Title, Status Text, File Workflow, Color, Is Alias, Viewed by Me.

SVG logos

You can now upload your company logo as an SVG. Vector SVGs are now our recommended logo format to ensure your logo always looks crisp regardless of screen size or DPI.

Task improvements

Task descriptions are now optional and tasks no longer have to have a due date.

Higher quality encoding beta

We're testing new encoding settings that both improve quality and lower file size, at the expense of compatibility with very old devices (>8 years old). Higher quality encoding can be enabled on a per-user basis by visiting http://[your site]/beta .

Kollaborate is an essential cloud workflow platform that allows you to share files with clients and team members while integrating with Digital Rebellion apps and services. Kollaborate Server allows you to host the platform in-house on your own servers and storage. To find out more, see the Kollaborate Server overview or register for the free cloud trial (Server trials are available on request).

Posted by Jon Chappell on Jan 20 2020 to Kollaborate, DR News, Front Page News
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Kollaborate 3.0.1 - Hide comments from certain users, file pinning, higher quality encoding and more

Kollaborate 3.0.1 is now live on the cloud. Here's what's new:

Hide comments from certain users

You can now choose to hide others' comments when creating a link or when editing permissions for a team member. This means the person can only view comments they made and replies to those comments.

File pinning

Pinning a file or folder makes sure it always displays at the top of the Files page, regardless of how files are sorted. This can be useful to highlight important files to your team.

Mark as Viewed / Unviewed

You can now manually mark a file as viewed or unviewed by you.

Better searching

Advanced Search now populates your current search when you go back to it, so it can be edited or tweaked.

Additionally, we've added new criteria for you to search against: Tag Value, Is Pinned, Version Title, Status Text, File Workflow, Color, Is Alias, Viewed by Me.

SVG logos

You can now upload your company logo as an SVG. Vector SVGs are now our recommended logo format to ensure your logo always looks crisp regardless of screen size or DPI.

Task improvements

Task descriptions are now optional and tasks no longer have to have a due date.

Higher quality encoding beta

When we first launched the site in 2013, the biggest factor affecting viewing experience was CPU processing power - even on desktop computers - so our proxies are optimized to decode quickly and not cause the CPU to spike too much.

However, since then devices and browsers have become much more optimized at playing video. If we sacrifice some compatibility with very old devices (such as the iPad 2 from 2011) we can produce better quality video at lower file sizes.

Because it only affects devices that are 8 or so years old, we're not expecting it to have a big compatibility impact, but we're running it as a beta just in case. You can opt in to the beta here.

Better technical data gathering

A feature that's not visible to users is much better logging of technical data at our end. This allows us to respond better to usage spikes, errors and fine-tune the site to ensure everything stays fast. We have plans to optimize things even further over the next few months.

Kollaborate is an essential cloud workflow platform that allows you to share files with clients and team members while integrating with Digital Rebellion apps and services. To find out more, see the overview or register for the free trial.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Dec 5 2019 to DR News, Front Page News, Kollaborate
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Black Friday Sale 2019 - Discounts on Kollaborate Server and desktop products

This year we're discounting the following products from November 27th through December 6th 2019:

Pro Maintenance Tools - $129 $99

Pro Media Tools - $99 $79

CinePlay for Mac - $29 $19

Kollaborate Server Small Business - $599 $479

Kollaborate Server Business - $999 $799

Kollaborate Server Unlimited - $1499 $1199

Kollaborate Encoder - $199 $159

Posted by Jon Chappell on Nov 27 2019 to DR News, Front Page News
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Pro Maintenance Tools 2.3 - macOS 10.15 compatibility, Dark Mode, plugin installer notarizing

Last week we released Pro Maintenance Tools 2.3, a major update to our suite of tools for maintaining, optimizing and troubleshooting your editing system.

Catalina support

Pro Maintenance Tools is now compatible with macOS 10.15 Catalina. Because Catalina removes 32-bit app support, this required us to transition away from QuickTime and use the more modern AV Foundation framework instead. This comes with numerous benefits, but also the downside that codec support is more limited. As a result, some features were removed or restricted with this release:

  • Media Salvage no longer supports Apple Intermediate Codec
  • You can no longer use third-party codecs with Corrupt Clip Finder

Dark Mode

Pro Maintenance Tools has full support for Dark Mode on macOS 10.14 and higher, respecting whichever look you've set under Appearance in System Preferences.

Plugin installer notarization

Plugin Manager now supports notarization, which is a requirement for all apps in order to run on Catalina. Plugin Manager takes care of almost all of the process for you, but it requires you to setup an App-Specific Password for your Apple developer account first. We've written up a tutorial detailing exactly how to notarize here.

Also note that disk images should be notarized too, so Plugin Manager also includes a feature to notarize them under the Tools menu.

We recommend plugin creators utilizing our installers to recreate them with the latest version to make sure users can continue to use them on modern versions of macOS.

Pro Maintenance Tools is an invaluable toolset to help working video professionals get up and running again quickly in the event of a problem. To find out more, see the feature overview, read the user manual, watch the overview video or download the free 15-day trial.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Nov 11 2019 to Pro Maintenance Tools, Front Page News, DR News
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Kollaborate Server 3.0 - redesigned UI, Documents, Transcripts, Servers page and more

Recently we released Kollaborate Server 3.0, a major update to our self-hosted workflow platform. This follows on from the release of Kollaborate 3.0 on the cloud version of the site.

New UI

We've made many changes to improve the user interface, the most significant of which is the vertical navigation bar which is designed to balance out the interface and place your content closer to the center of the screen.

If you find yourself needing more horizontal space, hover over the Kollaborate logo at the top left and click the arrow that appears to collapse the navigation bar. The navigation bar will automatically collapse by itself on small displays or when you resize your browser window.

Documents

While video is the most popular format used on the site, our customers also upload many other file types such as MS Word and PowerPoint documents. The only way to view these files in the past was to download them.

Now Kollaborate has a specific Document file type that supports file extensions like PDF, DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, PPTX, ODT, ODP. These files will now show thumbnails and be viewable directly in the browser once converted by our servers.

Leaving a comment on a document now tags that comment with the current page number and clicking on a comment will immediately take you to that page.

New Servers page

Encoding server configuration has been moved to its own separate page of the Admin Area.

Moving encoding servers to their own page allows us to offer more settings and features in future, including Kollaborate Hybrid Cloud, which will allow you to offset some of your encoding and other tasks to our servers. We plan to launch this feature in the near future.

Transcript tab

Add transcripts to your videos either manually or by importing SRT or VTT captions. Export as SRT, VTT or plain text. Captions will appear automatically over your video.

The cloud version of the site has a beta of our machine learning-powered automatic transcription feature. Because this is still a beta and is regularly undergoing changes, we're not making it available to self-hosted customers just yet but plan to in future once things have stabilized a bit more.

Customizable file columns

Columns in List view on the Files page can now be resized or dragged to change their order. You can also right-click to hide them or show additional columns. You can now, for example, show the number of comments a file has next to its name and sort the list by this field.

Advanced Search

Advanced Search has been completely overhauled to be more powerful. Use criteria like file size, type or width to narrow down your search. You can even locate files with specific words in their transcript.

Overhauled image viewer

Images can now be zoomed and navigated with a lot more control than before. Annotations can be drawn over the image at any zoom level.

Version names

Versions can be given custom names like "Rough Cut" or "Fine Cut". To do this, click the purple number next to the filename to view all of the versions, then right-click a version and select Rename Version.

Comment attachments

Even though you can leave comments at specific timecode positions and draw over a video, sometimes that isn't enough to get your point across, so you can now attach files to comments. So you can say "I want the color to look like this" and attach a photo, rather than trying to describe it.

This release also contains hundreds of small tweaks, bug fixes and improvements.

Kollaborate is an essential cloud workflow platform that allows you to share files with clients and team members while integrating with Digital Rebellion apps and services. Kollaborate Server allows you to host the platform in-house on your own servers and storage. To find out more, see the Kollaborate Server overview or register for the free cloud trial (Server trials are available on request).

Posted by Jon Chappell on Sep 11 2019 to DR News, Front Page News, Kollaborate
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Pro Media Tools 1.8 - manual checksum validator, conform improvements and more

Pro Media Tools 1.8 is a major update to our suite of media management tools. Here's what's new.

Checksum Validator

Auto Transfer has always checksummed your files when copying them, but it now has a tool to manually verify checksums. It's very flexible - drag in multiple drives, folders or files and it will generate checksums and compare them all.

This is helpful for verifying data integrity between two sources that Auto Transfer didn't copy, or were copied a long time ago.

Conform improvements

QT Edit has undergone several changes to improve frame rate conforming. Most of these are under the hood changes but there is one user-facing addition.

We've added a new checkbox to the Conform pane to disable frame rate inversion. Like the other options on that pane, most people should not need to check it, but this option can help when converting from a non-integer frame rate (e.g. 23.976) to an integer frame rate (e.g. 25). You should only use this option if you get incorrect results with it switched off.

Other changes

 

  • Auto Transfer - Added a right-click option to add a mounted drive as a destination
  • Auto Transfer - Added file sizes to transfer log
  • Edit Detector - Numbers in filenames are now padded
  • Video Check - Added space, JKL and arrow key shortcuts to navigate the video

Pro Media Tools is an essential toolkit for media professionals. To find out more, view the feature list, read the user manual or download the free 15-day trial.

 

Posted by Jon Chappell on Jul 31 2019 to DR News, Front Page News, Pro Media Tools
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Kollaborate 3.0 - AI transcription, new UI, Documents, customizable file columns and more

Kollaborate 3.0 is out now on the cloud, which is a major update to our workflow platform that both delivers new features and sets a foundation for future features to build upon.

AI transcription (Beta)

We're using machine learning technology to create transcripts of the spoken audio in your videos. Kollaborate will automatically highlight the current sentence as the video plays and you can click on sentences to jump to that point in the video.

Kollaborate uses the transcript to create automatic captions below the video and you can even export them as a separate file in common formats like SRT or VTT.

Best of all, this technology is completely self-contained on our servers. Privacy is extremely important to us so we wanted a solution that protected our users' data and did not share it with third-parties. We needed a solution that would also work for our self-hosted customers, some of whom host in environments with no external internet connection.

While it would have been trivial from an engineering perspective to integrate with something like Google or Amazon's speech-to-text technology like our competitors do, those services do not meet this criteria. After a lot of investigation and some code contributions, we finally settled on Mozilla's DeepSpeech. This is a more complex solution to the problem but it gives us maximum flexibility and the ability to finely tailor the technology to fit our customers' specific use-cases.

Our competitors charge extra for transcription and limit the number of hours per month you can transcribe. Using DeepSpeech allows us to make our transcription service free and unlimited. Transcribe as many files as you like for no extra cost and the only limitation is how quickly our servers can process the queue.

Because our speech models are still being refined, we're calling this a beta so that customer expectations are aligned correctly. You can read more details about the situations the model performs best at here, but the short explanation is that content like podcasts and voiceovers will currently return the best results. That's not to say that the transcription feature can't be used in other situations, but the technology is likely to make more mistakes. Over time we will expand the number of situations in which it performs well.

We're building our models on both open source data and data that more reflects our customers' use-cases. You can help improve transcription by correcting any mistakes and then clicking the Learn button. We don't use your data without permission so it is only used when the Learn button is clicked, and you can specify if we can use the entire file or just the sentences you corrected.

The audio of the file then gets cut up into pieces, given a random filename and uses the transcript you provided for training. We don't share your original audio with anyone and once it's part of the model the audio can't be extracted back in its original form.

Another way you can help is by contributing your voice to Mozilla's Common Voice project. This is a public domain speech dataset used by Kollaborate, Firefox and a variety of other projects to create open and privacy-conscious speech technology. All voice data is useful, but especially when it comes from women and non-Americans, who are currently underrepresented in Common Voice's dataset.

New UI

We've made many changes to improve the user interface, the most significant of which is the vertical navigation bar which is designed to balance out the interface and place your content closer to the center of the screen.

If you find yourself needing more horizontal space, hover over the Kollaborate logo at the top left and click the arrow that appears to collapse the navigation bar. The navigation bar will automatically collapse by itself on small displays or when you resize your browser window.

Documents

While video is the most popular format used on the site, our customers also upload many other file types such as MS Word and PowerPoint documents. The only way to view these files in the past was to download them.

Now Kollaborate has a specific Document file type that supports file extensions like PDF, DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, PPTX, ODT, ODP. These files will now show thumbnails and be viewable directly in the browser once converted by our servers.

Leaving a comment on a document now tags that comment with the current page number and clicking on a comment will immediately take you to that page.

Customizable file columns

Columns in List view on the Files page can now be resized or dragged to change their order. You can also right-click to hide them or show additional columns. You can now, for example, show the number of comments a file has next to its name and sort the list by this field.

Advanced Search

Advanced Search has been completely overhauled to be more powerful. Use criteria like file size, type or width to narrow down your search. You can even locate files with specific words in their transcript.

Overhauled image viewer

Images can now be zoomed and navigated with a lot more control than before. Annotations can be drawn over the image at any zoom level.

Version names

Versions can be given custom names like "Rough Cut" or "Fine Cut". To do this, click the purple number next to the filename to view all of the versions, then right-click a version and select Rename Version.

Comment attachments

Even though you can leave comments at specific timecode positions and draw over a video, sometimes that isn't enough to get your point across, so you can now attach files to comments. So you can say "I want the color to look like this" and attach a photo, rather than trying to describe it.

Other changes

  • Three files now upload simultaneously, which should make uploading large batches faster
  • The Files page has been overhauled to update dynamically without page refreshes. This should improve the speed of file browsing.
  • Share a folder directly from its file page
  • The page footer shows how many files / items are on a page
  • Lots of small tweaks and bug fixes

Coming soon

  • Kollaborate Archive - Cloud archival of your camera media and project files - entering beta soon
  • Video/audio comments - Leave audio or video comments without typing - opt-in available soon
  • Kollaborate Server 3.0 - Self-hosted version of Kollaborate 3.0 - coming in the next 2-3 weeks
  • Kollaborate Hybrid Cloud - Launching in conjunction with Kollaborate Server 3.0

Kollaborate is an essential cloud workflow platform that allows you to share files with clients and team members while integrating with Digital Rebellion apps and services. To find out more, see the overview or register for the free trial.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Jul 11 2019 to Front Page News, DR News, Kollaborate
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