Apple Final Cut Server & SharePoint Media Manager

And here are some notable differences:

  • Multiformat content delivery – it's not really known which formats Microsoft will export to, but Apple will most likely have them beat in the variety.
  • Programmable – Microsoft provides a series of .Net framework class libraries while it looks (for now) that Apple's is a closed system.
  • Browser vs. Client
    – the Microsoft solution uses a browser while Apple uses a Java client.
    Microsoft SharePoint, while it can run in Firefox and other browsers,
    definitely prefers you use IE with all of its ActiveX controls.
  • RSS – Microsoft SharePoint creates RSS feeds of almost everything
  • Media Annotator
    – Microsoft's solution includes a “media annotator” thatallows the user
    to enter notes and have online discussions about sections of video or
    specific frames. Users can also stop the video and apply hand-written
    notes or sketches directly to the video frame which can be posted for
    others to see.
  • Distributed Encoding – Apple supports distributed processing jobs on multiple machines that can be schedulted (via Compressor's QMaster).
  • Office Integration
    – because Microsoft's Interactive Media Manager is built upon Microsoft
    Office SharePoint Server, all the hooks into Microsoft Office are there
    including task assignment/reporting from Outlook and all the other
    goodies (calendars, alerts which Apple also has, etc.).
  • Price
    – here's the biggest difference of all. Microsoft's Interactive Media
    Manager is built on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server which costs in
    the neighborhood (after hardware, licenses, etc.) of around $70k to be
    safe. This doesn't include the Microsoft consulting to implement the
    Interactive Media Manager. Apple's cost $1,999 for an unlimited client
    license plus hardware. 

It is hard to tell what exactly Microsoft has created since they do not have a product like Apple. It's more of a consulting vehicle. Nonetheless, Apple's solution has some great advantages:

  • Customizable Search –  lets face it, the Spotlite-style search is way better than the traditional textbox, and much more intuitive.
  • Workflows – workflows are a lot easier to create on the Apple system than in SharePoint and they generally do not require any programming (although you can if you'd like).
  • Updated Assets – if a sound file or Motion file gets update, the Final Cut Pro file that references it is immediately updated with the latest version as if the user had done it on their own machine (nice!)

One issue I have with potentitally both is the use of versioning. Versions of a document make sense. There's an original and it gets updated so there are mutliple versions. Versions of a video don't make as much sense. For example, I might use a video and make a 1) black and white version 2) fast cut edited 3) soundbite, etc. It doesn't make sense for these all to be separate versions plus how could they be? They're all generated off of the original. So each one of those items would have to be a separate video. Then how are they connected to the original? Apple may get at this with the use of creating separate projects for each section and then assemble those into a master project. While that would probably work, it feels like a workaround of sorts.


Of course, it all comes down to what you need. Boring conclusion, eh? If you already have SharePoint on your corporate environment and need something to manage all of the various videos, music files, etc., and have more money to burn, it may suit you to call up Microsoft and see what they can do. If you're a multimedia shop already, the Apple solution would probably fit best. It might even be best to buy Final Cut Server for your multimedia division of your company and keep it out of the load on SharePoint (although that integration would be nice). There's also no mention of how well Apple's software would integrate with other non-Apple software, but I wouldn't want to go there anyway.