CatDV is the engine that powers Clippn, a global leader in video curation and stock footage monetization. We are taking a look at how Clippn’s fully cloud-deployed CatDV system supports global suppliers, an internationally distributed workforce, flexible and sophisticated workflows, and business innovation.
Global content brands count on Clippn to make their dormant, unstructured, and untagged video archives accessible and transparent as a way to boost usage and create new streams of revenue. In addition to this fee-based “enterprise” model, Clippn also works with videographers and production companies in a no-risk “consignment” model to clip, tag, and distribute their raw content as ready-for-sale clips via the stock footage market, sharing the revenue only when clips sell.
As Clippn built their platform for optimal efficiency and scalability, they leveraged the flexibility of CatDV’s capabilities, including customizations and an intuitive Web Client interface, and built a system that is truly their own, whilst remaining highly cost effective. Unlike Clippn’s previous platform partner, the CatDV team worked quickly and had the configured system and workflows in place to service clients within 3 months.
When Mick Reed founded Clippn in 2015, it was a natural creation born out of a lifelong passion for film and video. Reed, whose broad and colourful career includes feature films and high-end agency work, has a love of visual storytelling and all things related. As a writer, shooter, director, producer, and editor, he developed an expertise in streamlining production-through-post workflows to boost quality and speed whilst lowering costs. Media asset management has always been a big part of his formula. This made him a much sought-after consultant to media companies looking to generate more compelling content. Reed’s workshops in shooting and editing resulted in their footage libraries growing. As a gauge of success, editors were generating higher quality cuts faster, and usage was up across the board. So when these same clients asked for help to monetize this content in other ways, the stock footage market was an obvious choice.
Stock footage is an integral part of video creation, with buyers as diverse and varied as the videos we consume. As video production has surged over the past decade, so has the demand from stock agencies such as Getty Images and Shutterstock, many of whom started as stills agencies. As Reed explains, “The stock video market is a great opportunity for videographers and content companies to make money from their footage with minimal effort. The bottleneck has been the specialized work required to process and send the clips to suit the visual and metadata specifications of each distributor, something that has been pushed onto the supplier to do. This is where Clippn and CatDV come in.”
Reed continues “We do all the heavy lifting, so the videographer doesn’t need to. Every distributor has their own unique requirements, and video must be tagged appropriately for each one – this is the most important factor in determining sales. The videographers only need to upload their content once to Clippn and we do the rest. This allows them to do more of what they love, or as we say, ‘Shoot what you love, we do all the rest.’”
In the consignment model, a Clippn contributor uploads footage through the Clippn Dashboard via a fast and intuitive Upload Wizard. This keeps the metadata and media together throughout the processing cycle, which is managed by CatDV. The footage then works its way through curation, editing, tagging, and QA until it is ready for distribution. All of this takes place in the cloud.
In the Enterprise model, Clippn customizes the workflows based on each client’s unique needs. A typical scenario is a vast archive of raw or edited footage that might be on LTOs with minimal metadata and no way to easily access it. Clients in this situation find themselves buying footage elsewhere when they could be tapping their own archive. “An untagged and inaccessible archive has negative value,” Reed says. “What we do for our enterprise customers is mine and refine their archives to boost their own internal usage while creating new streams of revenue, often through the stock footage market. Our goal is to touch the footage once for multiple end uses.” The backbone of these project workflows is CatDV, usually with a customized Web Client interface that can be both Clippn and client-facing.
To manage such complex projects requires what Reed describes as “metadata intelligence”. This involves understanding that each media collection is unique and requires a customized approach to the content and tech. Knowing the needs of the various stakeholders in an organization, from biz dev to technical and content teams, is critical to Clippn’s success in having their clients value them as true partners. Often, projects require a careful balance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and human curators. “The key,” says Reed, “is to have a media asset management platform that can integrate the critical human and machine steps while adding automation and controlling cost and risk. CatDV enables us to find this careful balance with amazing UI and unlimited capabilities for integration.”
Reed freely admits to having a massive bump in the road in the early days of Clippn’s architectural workflow. “When we started Clippn, we looked at all the MAMs and decided to go with CatDV, for all the right reasons. But as we started to scale, we were offered an opportunity by another major MAM company based in Belgium to build our platform 100% in the cloud ‘by Christmas’. Well, two Christmases came and went, and a couple Fourths of July, and this over-engineered platform never worked as designed. This wrong turn nearly put us out of business.”
Reed continues, “Clippn’s model is to solve complex problems simply, and that is what CatDV helps us do. I went back to Square Box Systems like a prodigal son and was welcomed with open arms. We were servicing contributors within three months on a platform that we easily controlled, was robust and flexible, and scales to meet our needs. There was one enteprise client that we got up and running, from scratch, in ten days. The difference was magical – it was a major turning point for us to achieve our vision.”
The whole production workflow is 100% cloud based and all the services are hosted in AWS, meaning there are no data-centers to manage, and all content can be ingested, accessed, and worked on from anywhere in the world. Clippn has a distributed global workforce and assigns specialized experts in taxonomy and curation with specific cultural knowledge and sensitivities as the projects require.
Does Reed have any advice for his clients to get the best out of Clippn?
“Focus on what you do best, and Clippn will help you do more of that. You will feel the benefits throughout your organization,” Reed says. “When it comes to stock footage monetization, we have a formula based on quantity, quality, and variety. The more clips you have, the more you’re going to make. It’s just a numbers game. Of course there are quality standards, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, usually an editor or producer looking for a specific type of shot to drop into their timeline. And variety ensures you aren’t limiting yourself to a single type of content. Playing these numbers, combined with a distribution network of the world’s top distributors, is how Clippn optimizes your revenue. We know some stock footage shooters who do this full time and make a good living at it.”
Reed is in frequent discussions with major production companies who have a huge amount of archival video content but don’t know how to re-purpose or monetise it. “Our distributors are making more demands for 4K video, but good quality content in HD is also acceptable.”
Given how much video is being generated on a daily basis, and the insatiable demand globally for good quality video clips, Clippn’s business is on an upwards trajectory. And through their partnership with Square Box Systems to tap into CatDV solutions, Clippn is assured a platform that will grow and evolve to meet their needs while serving their clients. It is surely a business model where everybody wins!