latakoo Flight 5.1.1 release

We’re pleased to announce the immediate release of the latest version of our Flight application for Windows and Mac computers. Click here to download.

Because this release contains a large number of fixes and workflow improvements, we recommend that you upgrade as soon as possible, from all previous versions. Downloads, uploads on poor Internet connections, handling of filenames with non-Latin character sets, and audio synching are all significantly improved. Windows users will see improved transcoding to DV 25 and DV 50 formats. Finally, we fixed an issue with uploading certain kinds of XDCAM MXF files.

We’ve also added the ability to transcode between resolutions. That means that if you’ve uploaded an HD video clip, but need it in an SD format, you can download it straight from the website. We’ll handle the formatting for you, so you can get editing faster.

Click here to download the latest version.

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Teaming Up: latakoo and University of Texas

It’s nice to get a mention in The Sparefoot Blog. And, congratulations to Sparefoot on the “best places to work” status. The Austin based startup is making noise in a lot of ways these days. Sparefoot is the HomeAway for storage units and they just made it on a list of best places to work – a list that specifically considered only young companies.

The Sparefoot Blog recently took a look at how the University of Texas is rooting for young entrepreneurs and new technology, including latakoo.

In 2010, the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) opened their New Venture Incubator to sponsor research and development in their labs, expand incubation activities that build regional commercialization, and partner with growing businesses. Dozens of startups are part of this system, including latakoo. As one of these companies currently in the New Venture Incubator, latakoo has received investment from the UT System Horizon Fund to aid in the development of the company. This investment is aiding further development of data compression and encryption technology for use in video applications that latakoo is known for, and continues to fund development in faculty labs.

Despite a slowing economy, UT and UTSA continue to keep their research spending strong and show no sign of slowing down. This means more and more of the products and services we will see in the future will be the result of these collaborations and investments in companies like ours.

You can read the article in its entirety here and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter here!

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latakoo’s Video Stitching Simplifies Transfer From Video Capture Cards

latakoo is pleased to release our patent pending process that enables video files created from P2 and SD cards and other recording media to be transferred over the Internet and stitched together in the cloud according to time code.  Latakoo app 4.3.1, now available after login on the latakoo site, contains a number of improvements and bug fixes. Please make sure to upgrade your latakoo app now. 

Video stitching
Video stitching, video grouping, or the concatenation of related files usually happens on a timeline in an editing suite. From the SD card or the P2 card, most people are forced to move the files into an editing program, stitch portions together, export a new file, then transfer that file over the Internet. latakoo now gives video professionals the ability to drag, drop, and send fast with one-click compression. On the receiving end, latakoo can deliver the original files and stitched files.

How Stitching Works: 
When two or more videos are added to the latakoo app, a toggle switch appears that shows Grouping OFF.  In order to group the videos together as a single file on the server, the user would toggle the switch to “Grouping On.”

  • Grouping can be achieved with related or unrelated files.
  • Related files will have the option to stitch based on time code.
  • No Enhanced Upload available with grouping at this time.
  • For grouping, the selection drop downs for Networks and Bitrates for each video will always match anytime a change is made to any video in the queue.

Other Improvements & Additions:

  • XDCAM 50 HD / MXF (OP1a) transcode with timecode
  • DVCPro 50 SD / MXF (OP1a) transcode with timecode
  • Updated Proxy link on dialogue box to more prominent blue to resemble an active link.
  • Added Software Terms of Service agreement to installer.

Bug Fixes:

  • Fixed the naming convention for download/transcode.  Download /transcode will now name the file to Filename_koo_timestamp.ext to prevent the file from being overwritten by the app if the video with the same name and extension are downloaded twice.
  • Improved handling of loss of Internet connection during file uploads for both Standard and Enhanced uploads.
  • Fixed DVCProHD transcode for source videos with variable frame-rates.
  • Fixed MXF audio mapping for videos with non-standard video / audio sequencing.
  • Corrected aspect ratio for certain MXF transcodes that would show incorrectly as 4:3 even though the video was 16:9.

 

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latakoo app release 4.2: now we’re flying

I’m incredibly proud of the work the whole team has put into latakoo app 4.2, and in particular Joe Pelayo, who has led its development. This is a big step towards fulfilling our mission of making large file transfers as fast and easy as possible.

In addition to the fast video transfers that we’ve always provided, here’s what latakoo subscribers can expect to see in the latest version:

Added timecode copy support. The app will now maintain the source video timecode track and transfer to the final encoded MP4 video file.

You can now send your videos without compression. The app will now allow the user to select No Compression which will bypass the video encoding. The original video file will be uploaded, with its existing codec and container format (and file size). The unaltered video will be available for download from the latakoo website.

The app will upload to the default network if the user does not select a network. The app will also display the name of the default network selection in the drop down even if no networks are selected. As a fail-safe, the app will upload to the first assigned network if no default network is assigned in the user’s account. No more rogue uploads to users’ private spaces instead of their company hot folders.

On top of that, there are countless other improvements to video encoding, transfer and upload speed. The new latakoo app is available now.

Not yet a latakoo subscriber but need to send video fast? Check out our plans.

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Punching above your weight

I wrote about the experience of working for latakoo over on Quora:

The engineers reading this will know there’s a lot involved in that description. (Did I mention our app comes for Windows, Mac, iPhone and iPad?) And believe me, from obtuse enterprise firewalls to hilarious video codec / wrapper interactions, we encountered it all. At latakoo, any one of us is often debugging TCP round-trip times with satellite modems in Afghanistan and designing HTML5 video player wrappers in the same afternoon.

It works. Just today, a journalist told us: “I’m going to name my first child latakoo”. Hey, we’ll take it. In fact, we get a ton of compliments, and we’ve been able to be useful in hurricanes, political conventions, sporting events, conferences … you name it. If someone calls us and asks us for help, we’re usually up for the challenge.

You can read the whole post over here. If you like it, don’t forget to upvote! Don’t forget, you can always follow us on Twitter here.

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Making enterprise software that people can actually use

Software is opinionated. This is natural: it’s made by real people, who have opinions, to tackle problems that they think they can solve using a particular line of thought. All of the best software packages – from Lotus 1-2-3 all the way down to Gmail and node.js – have been created with a strong opinion about how their particular problems should be solved.

The same goes for latakoo. Here are some opinions that we had while we were building it: Moving video is too hard. You shouldn’t have to post your content publicly to host it in the cloud. Web applications are the future of user interface design. Video professionals deserve better management tools.

Here’s another opinion: Enterprise software shouldn’t try and radically change the way people work.

“What?!” might be a developer’s reply. “Then how are we supposed to innovate?”

Here’s the thing, though. Enterprise organizations are large, and immediately changing their existing workflows often carries with it a massive real cost, on top of the price you’re charging for your service. That comes in training, support and maintenance, even when you’re dealing with a cloud application where they don’t have to actually install anything on their servers. If their workflow is essential to the running of their organization – which is a smart place to start when you’re building an enterprise software business – then any loss of productivity along it will put them at risk. No manager will agree to that.

So, you need to look at those workflows and augment them. You’re finding ways to supercharge those workflows, not replace them with something that you consider to be more efficient. For one thing, remember, you’re opinionated: no developer is an objective source. But for another, you’ll never understand the intricacies of their business as well as they do.

An example: at latakoo, we let people send video fast using our desktop and mobile apps, and then manage it privately using our web service. But some of our enterprise customers already have their own, sometimes very costly, media management solutions. We could make a case for replacing those solutions entirely. latakoo’s features would certainly support that. But it’s more meaningful for those customers to use the fast sending app, and synchronize their video from latakoo’s infrastructure to their own, automatically.

Of course, we chose to support this. So our enterprise customers can request that video is sent to their existing infrastructure on upload via tools like rsync, SFTP, Signiant, and so on. Over time, some of them may wish to migrate to using our web service – and we still keep a copy of their video there, so it’s always available to them. This turns out to be really useful for television journalists out in the field, who need to access old video but don’t have a secure connection to their company’s servers. It’s also good for when content companies wish to accept or collaborate on video with outside contributors without having to create local accounts for them. In these situations, latakoo acts as a kind of DMZ, and it works well. But there’s no need for those customers to use these features if they don’t need them.

The result is that latakoo enterprise customers often see a 9x return on investment, through time savings while using both the app and the web-based management service where appropriate, and their own tools and infrastructure when they need to. We’re opinionated developers, and our opinion was, we can make better video management software. But our opinion that software should be useful from day one rode out. And that meant reigning ourselves in, and understanding that the customer knows more about how they work than we do.

Words by Ben Werdmuller. 

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latakoo Releases New Desktop App: Version 4.0

latakoo Video Desktop Tool (4.0) is now available for download.

latakoo is happy to announce the release of its latest desktop video tool for both Mac and Windows OS. This update provides bug fixes from the current 3.3.2 release along with a few additional enhancements, which includes an upgraded upload process and the availability to download HD video using the XDCAM HD 422 format. Here is a more detailed description of the new features:

latakooing: Simultaneous Encode/Upload (Beta)

latakoo has added a feature that replaces the standard encode first then upload process with a revolutionary enhanced upload. This upload that we call latakooing can dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to transfer a video up to the cloud. Performance rates will vary depending on computer CPU processing power, bandwidth and original file type, but tests have shown the total time to process video can be reduced by as much as 40% over the standard encode and upload process.

To enable the new enhanced option, simply click the Options button to go to the Options section, and then select the Use Enhanced Upload checkbox. Click OK to return to the main screen. You can then add or drag and drop videos to you queue and process them as with the previous apps. The only difference that you will notice is that instead of having a progress bar for Encoding and then Uploading, you will only see a single progress bar that shows the total percentage until completion. Once the bar reaches 100% you are done.

Note: The Enhanced Upload is still in a beta mode so use at your own discretion. The process is currently limited to video with a single-track and 2 track audio, but 2 track audio will be mixed to a single track with the left and right channel containing track one and track two respectively. Audio tracks beyond the second track are not processed. In addition, P2 video files are currently not supported. The full support of multi-track audio and P2 video files will be available in the next release of the tool. The use of the Enhanced Mode is available for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, and Mac OSX 10.6.8 or above.

Download XDCAM HD 422 Files on latakoo.com

The XDCAM HD 422 download option is now available for 720 and 1080 video resolutions. As with the other download options on the latakoo site, this feature is available from the video page. Select the ‘Choose Other Format’ from the dropdown selection and then click the XDCAM HD 422 selection. The tool will automatically open with your selection in the queue. Simply click the Start button to begin the transfer.

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latakoo’s proven technology touted in Broadcasting and Cable magazine

There are few things that rank as better validation than a customer testimonial. And, when you are a young video technology company, few things are better than getting a customer’s endorsement in Broadcasting and Cable magazine.

Blake Russell, Senior VP of Nexstar Broadcasting, detailed how latakoo enabled the entire Nexstar chain to share stories produced by just four multimedia journalists from the convention floors. We’re grateful to Blake Russell, Nexstar, and all of our supportive customers.

We’ve included an excerpt of the latakoo mention below and a photo of the article. Most of the Broadcasting and Cable content is behind a paywall and requires a subscription to read published stories. To subscribe, click here.

Words by Jade Kurian


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Always be sharing: using social video for sales and education

This is a fully-referenced write-up of the talk I gave at Video World Expo earlier today.

You can’t talk about selling online without talking about social media.

Remote controlIn the beginning, television (together with cinema, an even older delivery platform) was the only way to use video for sales. Commercials, sponsorships, placements: they were all ways to get your pitch in front of an audience, so they could see you and understand what your product was about. Over time, we moved to marketing videos – but it was still a one-way broadcast medium.

Out of technological necessity, our pitches became broadcasts: one way messages for a large audience Some of the audience may have been shouting back through their television sets, but there was no way for us to hear them, or to target them.

In the Internet economy, as we all know from the Cluetrain Manifesto, markets are conversations. Today, we can hear our audience loud and clear, and target specifically to them. Social media is becoming an important part of everyone’s sales strategy.

We still use TV ads – but they serve as a conversation starter; the most successful campaigns focus on engagement, not reach, and people aren’t necessarily watching them on TV. TV advertising is now just part of a broad spectrum of video media that can be used to help sell products.

You don’t just pick one medium to convey your message: computers can handle all kinds of content, all at once. Choosing between text, video, audio etc is a false choice dictated by legacy technological barriers. (TV can’t be audio-only; the radio can’t show pictures.) In 2012, you can have all of these, and you should. Ubiquitous Internet means that people consume media on all kinds of devices, in all kinds of places.

Video is leading online use.

According to Cisco:

  • In 2011, over 50% of mobile data was video.
  • By the end of 2012, there will be more mobile devices than people.
  • By 2014, over 80% of all Internet traffic will be video.
  • By 2016, over two thirds of mobile data will be video.

Meanwhile:

Of course, these figures don’t mean that most content is video: video is intrinsically bigger and more bandwidth-intensive than most other kinds of communication. However, they are undeniably significant – and video use is growing.

The trick to selling with video, as with all social media, is engaging the audience – and that means providing content that the audience wants to engage with.

Buyers report that less than half of vendor-produced social media content is useful, and that “22% of the buying process is wasted with ineffective content”. Even worse, sellers who create content that buyers don’t find useful, and who are perceived to be wasting buyers’ time, are 27% less likely to be placed on the buyer’s short list – and are 40% less likely to get the sale.

So what kinds of content are people looking for?

It turns out that “good” content has these properties:

  • It’s concise
  • It’s entertaining (i.e., not too dry)
  • It’s low on promotional bias – too much of a hard sell is a turn-off
  • And most importantly: it’s contextually personalized for them.

Note what’s missing: viewers aren’t necessarily looking for production values. They want content, and they want to feel like it was made for them.

This is probably a hard pill to swallow for people from the traditional media industries in particular, who are used to prioritizing production. And, they might not believe me.

Here, then, is My Drunk Kitchen, one of the post popular shows on YouTube. The first episode has been seen over 2 million times alone, and its star, Hannah Hart, is a bona fide celebrity who’s been featured in places like Time.

When used correctly, video is a strong sales tool. Just ask Kickstarter.

Kickstarter is a revolutionary site and community that allows new products to be crowdfunded by the public. Product developers make their pitch, and set a funding goal to build their product. The public votes with their wallets, pledging amounts that are often as small as $5 to $25 in return for rewards that can – but don’t have to – include the final product. If the funding goal is met, the product developers get the money.

Kickstarter projects have a 15% chance of being funded – unless they include a video, which more than doubles their chance of success to 37%.

Here’s the pitch video from the most funded ever project, Pebble, a new kind of connected watch:

It’s slicker than many videos – certainly more so than My Drunk Kitchen – but still a world away from the production values we’re used to seeing in traditional media. Pebble had set a funding goal of $100,000 and ended up raising over $10 million. It’s far more important to get your story out there.

And it’s not just sales.

Last year, Stanford University created a new online course, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, and made it open to anyone. This was a flagship course, heralding a new era in open education – a massive PR win for them, which attracted over 160,000 students from around the world.

Here’s the introductory video:

The course was considered a massive success, but production values weren’t front and center. Content was.

Finally, internal communications can also benefit.

According to the Aberdeen Group, 52% of organizations using social media tools internally achieved Best-in-Class performance compared to only 5% that didn’t. What’s more, organizations are saving money by sharing content more effectively internally: Sabre alone saved $500,000 by implementing a social intranet.

Video is a key part of social media. It’s worth pointing out that latakoo is the only social intranet tool designed specifically for managing video – but what are useful features of a platform designed for video sales?

Make it for them.

Remember what people respond to: contextually personalized content.

Rather than creating slick video designed for a mass audience, I contend that you will receive a better response from authentic, personal video shot for niches, groups, and even individuals. That means writing great content, making a video and sending it fast – to the right people.

That yields specific software challenges. YouTube is a great site, but video doesn’t have to be public. We talk about Content Delivery Networks for mass delivery of public video – but sometimes, niche delivery of super-targeted video can be far more effective.

That sometimes means sharing videos with systems that have access controls. Access controlled video also means you can include sensitive information relating to a specific sale or product – and then have a private conversation around it. That same use case makes it hugely useful for internal resources. You can share without fear, while making those content-rich resources, knowing that only the right people will see it.

This isn’t just for sales and training – you can use private, internal video to demonstrate products between departments, recording meetings or talks for future use, and so on.

We built latakoo to do exactly this – and of course, full access control means that you can still make a resource public when you need it to be.

Video is hard.

Video has many inherent problems: big files and lots of different, proprietary formats make it very difficult to share. Simply put, it’s hard to move video around.

Initially for our own purposes, we built latakoo to solve this problem through clever use of compression, a simple interface, and technology to eliminate worries about video format compatibility.

In a world of i7 processors, gigabytes of RAM and large bandwidth pipes, managing video should be as easy as managing photos and status updates. You certainly shouldn’t need proprietary hardware or super-expensive file transfer software – and you don’t. We’ve made sure of that.

We also need to make consuming that video as simple as possible, which means, ideally, just using a web browser on the user’s choice of device.

Lower the barrier to entry to consuming content-rich, useful video: become more efficient and increase sales.

The latakoo team is split between Austin, San Antonio and Silicon Valley. After some false starts and software trials that didn’t quite work out, we’ve landed on using Google+ Hangouts extensively to bridge the gap. Almost all of our videoconferencing meetings are done this way. It’s never quite the same as face to face, but we’ve found that we have more productive conversations than we would over just the phone, and it’s both reliable and extremely affordable.

We use join.me to share live video of our product demos in sales calls. Even when we’re just going through a sales proposal document with clients, we’ve found that looking at the same screen provides clarity that is hard to achieve using just voice.

And then, of course, we use latakoo to deliver pre-recorded video demos, pitches and walkthroughs.

In all of these cases, the barrier to entry for video consumers is low: you can access them through just a browser, and can get started instantly.

That’s the real future of video sales: access, personalization and ease of use. We’re proud to be a part of it.

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latakoo and Texas Campaign for the Environment


At latakoo, we like to think we’re good to the environment. We don’t sell any hardware. We don’t ship any boxes. We recycle at the office. Our team members carpool or take public transportation. We like being centrally located to reduce commutes. (We would compost if we could just get a space that allowed for a garden.) And, we support Texas Campaign for the Environment.

TCE is a non-partisan, non-profit citizens’ organization that focuses on local and state environmental and public health issues. They’ve organized award winning campaigns to protect the health of citizens and the quality of the environment in latakoo’s home state.

TCE takes the problems one by one, canvassing door to door to gain support from the community.  In March of 2012, a seven-year effort by TCE and various other groups culminated in the most comprehensive policy on disposable bags anywhere in the United States. Austin City Council moved unanimously to ban single-use retail bags by 2013.  And, that’s just the most recent of TCE’s victories.

TCE is a latakoo client. When they organize a protest, they carry cameras. When they tell their stories, they do it through video. latakoo’s video platform allows TCE to quickly share video with the media and with their own team members. And, since we don’t produce electronic waste, we’re a natural fit.

Yes, everything’s bigger in Texas, including environmental headaches.  But thanks to TCE, solutions are taking shape and taking hold. This month TCE turned 21.  latakoo asked Austin-based video story teller Bobby Longoria to help us salute this bright, shining organization committed to the health and welfare of the citizens of Texas. The video played to a standing room only crowd at TCE’s birthday party and continues to make the rounds in TCE circles.  After you watch it, be sure to make a donation to TCE. (It’s money well spent, just like buying a latakoo account.)

Words on blog by Jade Kurian; Video by Bobby Longoria; Music by Selva Oscura.

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