Panopto announced updates today to Panopto Focus and Panopto Unison – tools used by educational institutions and enterprise customers for video and multimedia capture and management. The latest updates include full HD recording and archiving, remixing and editing content, search improvements, and integration with Twitter and Facebook.
One of the biggest problem in any organization is knowledge transfer. Subject matter experts are in short supply and their time is valuable. Presentations and lectures are great for those who can make it to see them in real time, but fall down hard when it comes to the next group of employees walking in the door or those who couldn't attend in person. Panopto is trying to solve this with presentation capture and management tools that businesses (and educators) can use to record lectures, presentations, and so on and save them for later.
There's no shortage of tools to capture presentations or screencasts, but Panopto takes it to another level entirely. Panopto Focus handles capturing presentations from one or many computers. Whether you want to sit at a desk and narrate a screencast, or have a multi-computer setup for capturing a video and a presenter's desktop, it's easy to manage and can deliver a recording almost immediately after it's deliver. Panopto Unison provides a browser-based interface for editing video, creating "Pancasts" out of old audio, video, presentations, and so forth an organization already has. Finally, the Panopto Platform hosts resources and handles capturing video, editing, remixing, and sharing content.
On the user side, Panopto works with Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, and a number of other devices. Users can not only view resources, but search through a table of contents and even a closed caption track if the organization decides to pony up for transcription services on top of Panopto's costs. The service is available as a private cloud that starts around $50,000 and can go up to $300,000 for extremely large customers (think "a certain software company in Redmond, Washington") that want to keep their presentations behind the corporate firewall. The SaaS version of Panopto starts at about $16,000 as a baseline, with individual recorder fees and Unison licensing on top of that.
Having watched a demo of the technology, I have to say it's relatively impressive what can be done by a single user with a webcam. Eric Burns, Panopto's co-founder and CTO walked me through a demo today of capturing and editing a video produced in real-time while we were talking. The video was online almost immediately, and the interface for capturing video and melding it with a presentation look simple enough even for executives to use.
The remixing features that Panopto announced today are pretty vital – prior releases only allowed removing sections of a recording, but now it's possible to do full-on editing to provide a polished finished product. The HD support is a nice to have for folks who have to watch a lot of video via Panopto. The company also says it has improved search, and now has "DVR-like" functionality so users can pause a live broadcast even if they have to duck out mid-way for a quick phone call. Panopto is also on the social train with this release, adding Facebook and Twitter integration. This is a bit less exciting, since it's not that hard to share publicly available Web resources, but might be important to some organizations.
The user interface and search tools look incredibly powerful for educational institutions and businesses alike. If the video is transcribed, users can search for keywords and jump immediately to the portion of a video that matches the keywords. Want to know what the CEO said about the company's goals at the last all-hands? A quick search would turn it up in no time. You get the idea – Panopto looks like a very effective tool for recording and disseminating information to employees or students. Though not cheap, the costs of knowledge transfer are extremely high in any organization. In large companies, the value of capturing presentations and making them available as easily as searching for your favorite video on YouTube is hard to overstate.