Critique 4 Cloud-Collaboration Software Brings New Features and Expanded Functionality


LOS ANGELES - Critique 4, developed by the people who brought you DigitalFilm Tree, will be unveiled at the 2016 NAB Show in Las Vegas, April 18-21. This new version of the popular cloud-collaboration software will be showcased at the Amazon Web Services (AWS) booth (SL9016). Critique 4 is already utilized by award-winning productions such as Modern FamilyThe Simpsons and NCIS: Los Angeles, among others.

"Critique has undergone a significant upgrade and offers many new features and security controls to take clients to the next level," says Critique CTO Chris Chen. "It is also the first time we have deployed the platform on AWS."

Technologically advanced, Critique 4 is a secure digital media asset management (MAM) platform with extensive features to support creative processes and production workflow for both the media and entertainment space as well as enterprise. Built to be extremely easy to use, Critique facilitates collaboration through real-time chat, live annotations, and secure sharing over the internet to deliver productions on time and on budget. Real-time chat and drawing annotations are viewable across the Web and iOS - they even work with the new Apple Pencil for iPad Pro. 

Designed to improve workflow, the software facilitates every step from protected dailies screening to VFX workflows to post-production to distribution while capitalizing on enterprise-level security to protect valuable assets. Critique 4 was born of the minds of its executive team: Guillaume Aubuchon, a veteran in the production space having worked on such projects such as HerNCIS:LA and Angie Tribeca, and Chris Chen, a heavyweight in production streaming space and the former CTO of DAX. With its ability to leverage DigitalFilm Tree's post-production facility, Critique is built to ensure it works in real-world media environments.

Critique's new relationship with AWS is key to version 4. "AWS is not only the largest cloud provider, but they are the cloud provider of choice in the M&E space," says Aubuchon, CIO of Critique. "Our infrastructure shift to AWS afforded us the ability to architect the software to leverage the range of services in the AWS cloud platform. It allowed us to build Critique 4 from scratch in a matter of mere months." 

One of the new exciting features of Critique 4 is its ability to index Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to allow companies to manage their own content inside of Critique's award-winning interface. It also offers high-performance cloud MAM for simultaneous video and document management: Users can collaborate with Critique's review, approval and annotation workflows not only for video but also for production documents including scripts, graphics and still images.

"Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection is rarely used, if at all, for unreleased content, which is arguably where it is needed the most," notes Chen. "Critique was designed to leverage DRM invisibly throughout its video distribution system on desktop, web, and mobile environments. This allows Critique to break through the legacy walled-garden approach, allowing a new level of flexibility in collaboration while maintaining security. But we do it in such a way where the users don't even know it's there." 

The ability to share assets in this way expands its mobility and Critique is available via web, phones, tablets and Apple TV. The video service is backed by a true CDN running multi bit-rate video to prevent glitches on any platform. "Users can take advantage of Critique anywhere - in their office, living room, the subway, or even a plane," explains Chen. "And it will be true to the original media. 

"One of the challenges of working offline is that people don't want to wait for content to download on their device before they leave," notes Chen. "They need to be able to grab and go. With Critique's new Sync feature, a push-based system that downloads selected content to your device while you are in the office or at home. It is ready to go when you are. For executives, there is an admin mode which permits assistants to specify content to push to an executive's device."

Other highlights of Critique 4 include:

  • Storage, archiving and management of Raw material
  • Automatic transcoding of Raw material into a proxy format for viewing
  • Granular permissions on files, folders, and projects
  • Easy-to-manage sharing functions for users outside the system with the ability to time-limit and revoke/extend individual permissions
  • Customizable watermarking on videos

While Critique was born in the creative and operations side of the media and entertainment market, it is extending to enterprise, small to medium-size businesses, publishing, education and government/military sectors. "The diligence and demands of working with studios, and our ability succeed in that high-demand, high-output environment, has road tested our video and document management and our enterprise-level security, making Critique a perfect fit for new tiers of users," says Chen.

This latest version of Critique is available now for a free 30-day trial (AWS usage fees apply). Pricing is extremely competitive with 10, 20, 50 and 100 user levels starting as low as $39 per user. Enterprise level contracts are available for larger projects and companies with multiple projects. The fee includes unlimited streaming of current content and 24/7 white-glove tech support. AppleTV, Apple iPad and iPhone apps are also included. For a nominal fee, users can add DRM, high-resolution cloud transcode and storage for camera raw and mezzanine files.

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