File-sharing services abound these days with the likes of Dropbox, YouSendIt, iDisk, etc. but what’s lacking in all of them is both the mindset of entertainment production and the ease of use that is still necessary for those less-than-tech-savvy coworkers. Enter The Project Hub from UploadStudio Ltd.
The Project Hub is a project-specific information site that allows you to easily upload and download files as well as give your clients and coworkers various levels of access to do the same. The service is completely web-based, so it does not require an FTP client or any proprietary software to use, and thus it can be managed from any computer with internet access. While I understand that most people reading a review like this are rather tech-savvy already and probably have no issues with things like FTP clients, it is important to take into consideration your audience’s audience and the fact that they might not be a cool as you when it comes to the geeky stuff.
Once you have created an account on the site and have chosen a plan, you will be allotted a specific amount of online space. At its most basic, a free plan on The Project Hub comes with 500MB of storage space. Yearly plans range from 2GB to 100GB and start at $24.99 per year.
What really sets this file-sharing utility apart is its ability for users to customize and personalize it. Within your account, you can create an unlimited amount of project folders with organized sub-folders within. Once your folder structure has been created, you can then easily start uploading files from your computer, which will then be posted to the folders and available for download by the “clients” of your choosing. These clients are set up specifically by you on an easily managed client page that allows you to set the individual access privileges, access password, and, most importantly, which projects he or she will actually be allowed access. The adding, deleting, and changing of access privileges for individual clients is also incredibly straightforward, and notifications to clients about their account setups, as well as any files that have changed on the site, can be easily sent via email directly from the website’s interface.
Have an assistant, gaffer, production manager, or producer that you work with exclusively? Well, setting up multiple administrators for your personal Project Hub is also just as easy and gives those people unfettered access to all projects managed within your plan.
Once an individual client has been granted access and has logged onto the site, he or she is presented with only the project or list of projects to which access has been granted. Each project has clickable drop-down menus for quick access to general project information, such as name, description, location, start date, and notes, as well as an area devoted to scheduling where upcoming events such as conference call times, etc. can be posted.
Upon entering a specific project, you are greeted with all of the project’s information, a project image or logo (if uploaded) to personalize the page for your clients, as well as a clear list of clickable subfolders down the left side of the screen. Subfolders can include, but are certainly not limited to, items such as “CAD files,” “media,” “paperwork,” “renderings,” “site check pictures,” “vendor bids,” etc.
From the individual folder pages, anyone can download individual files or select multiples and apply batch actions to them, such as zipping and downloading all, sending them to non-clients via email, etc. It’s all extremely straightforward and easily navigable. Even the least tech-savvy of personnel can move around the site with ease.
Clients that have been given appropriate administrative rights can also upload files as well as add sub-folders to the existing project, which may alleviate you and your administrators from having to micromanage every little change that your clients may want. Herein lies the true efficiency of The Project Hub. Many designers have been reluctant to provide this type of service to clients based solely on the fact that, until now, it meant either employing someone to manage your project sites or spending a majority of your already limited free-time doing so yourself.
For both the true web geeks out there and the technologically challenged, you’ll be impressed to know that all data on The Project Hub, as well as its transmission to/from your web browser, are very secure. All pages are managed with SSL certificates to create encrypted connections while you're working with the site, and you also have the option to encrypt files that are being uploaded with a simple click of a check box. This provides a very safe method of data delivery for private files that need protection from potential data tampering and gives the peace of mind that is always welcomed when dealing with high-profile projects that may be subject to information leaks.
All-in-all, The Project Hub is the most straightforward and production-friendly file sharing service that I’ve used to date, and it is most definitely worth a look if you have previously been using any other file transfer service for your projects. It has simplified the digital lives of many of my clients and has brought a value added service to my companies without increasing my workload much if at all.
Patrick Dierson has programmed and designed numerous productions, including tours for Jay-Z, Shakira, R. Kelly, Bon Jovi, and Rihanna, as well as shows for Wynn Hotel & Casino and the MTV Video Music Awards. He earned an Emmy® Award nomination for his work on the post-September 11 telethon America: A Tribute to Heroes. He is based in New York.