Broadcast Beat Exclusive: Jon Chappell, Digital Rebellion Q&A

DR-Jon Chappell headshotFor Digital Rebellion Founder/CEO Jon Chappell, workflow efficiency is more than just a buzzword. It’s a personal obsession born from his own experiences as an editor and post production supervisor. Programming software since the age of six, Chappell founded his company with the goal of developing tangible and practical software solutions for real-world production and post challenges.

“Years ago when I started working as an editor I noticed that a lot of the same workflow problems came up again and again, and the fix was normally straightforward, I realized that it would save a lot of time if this was automated,” Chappell says. “All of these fixes eventually turned into Pro Maintenance Tools — still our most popular product.”

Chappell spoke with Broadcast Beat about Digital Rebellion, its array of workflow efficiency solutions and the issues confronting post-production studios today surrounding cloud-based collaboration and security.


You’ve said that all the tools you’ve created were born out of your real world needs working as a video editor. How important is your post experience to the tools you’ve designed and what are some of the collaboration challenges post houses face in trying work more effectively? 

JC: I think this is a key advantage because as Henry Ford allegedly said, “if you ask people what theya cloud want, they will ask for a faster horse.” So while customer feedback is important for shaping our products, every version 1.0 comes from a specific problem that I have personally experienced. We understand the issues and challenges post production professionals face and that’s why many of our products have completely unique features that no one else is offering.

Speaking broadly, poor communication and organization can be a big barrier to collaboration. I think just coming up with an organization strategy and communicating it to people gets you more than halfway there, no matter what that strategy is. You never fully know everything you’ll be faced with so that’s why I like to pre-organize with tools like our Post Haste so I’m never completely thrown off guard.

  1. Workflow collaboration is an all-important element in today’s production process. Can you share some tips for how production teams can get started?

JC: Come up with an organization strategy, no matter what it is, and get everyone to stick to it. Don’t worry about whether or not it’s perfect because the flaws will make themselves apparent once it’s set in motion and can be smoothed out over time.

  1. How important is cloud-based workflow efficiency?

JC: I think it’s getting more and more important all the time. There are huge advantages — creative companies can access the best talent no matter where they live and can work with clients anywhere in the world. Most were sharing files this way anyway with rudimentary tools like FTP, but we’ve seen an uptick in the number of people contacting us who want to upgrade to something that gives them a lot more control and looks professional. Clients appreciate how easy it is to give feedback, and the ability to show better video quality to their bosses.

  1. With cloud-based, there’s always a concern about security of content. Is that a major issue for you and how have you addressed it?

JC: This has been something we’ve focused on since the beginning. We use industry-standard protection mechanisms to ensure our site is secure. We’ve actually found that customers are more concerned with the protection of content they send out to clients though, so we provide a lot of tools to help with that too – from automatic watermarking to link expiration. We also recognize that the cloud is a non-starter for some companies due to sensitive contracts, that’s why we also provide an in-house version called Kollaborate Server that users can set up on their own servers.

  1. Most recently you announced some extensive upgrades to your video player CinePlay. Why aren’t off-the-shelf tools like QuickTime or even QuickTime Pro powerful enough for today’s post houses?

JC: QuickTime Player X was controversial when it came out because it took away many of the Kollaborate screengrabprofessional features that were relied on by people in our industry. Those features are still available in QuickTime Player 7 but they are deprecated and it’s only a matter of time before they stop working in new versions of OS X.

But one of our core philosophies is that professional customers benefit from specialization and by designing products specifically for them we can build better tools than companies who are forced to think about much broader markets. So CinePlay isn’t just designed to replace some of the professional features of QuickTime Player 7, it’s also designed to add brand new features QT Player never had like markers, annotations, where users can write or draw over the video, safe area overlays, time-code windows, masking and cloud playback.

About Digital Rebellion:

Digital Rebellion, established in 2007, is a Los Angeles-based developer of workflow efficiency tools. The company simplifies the file sharing and team management process delivering powerful video-based software solutions that are used by creative professionals around the world in film, broadcast, media, corporations and government agencies to meet everyday production challenges. Industry-trusted solutions include Kollaborate, Pro Maintenance Tools, Pro Media Tools, Post Haste, CinePlay and Cut Notes. Digital Rebellion products are available through the company’s website and reseller channel. For more information about Digital Rebellion solutions and services and product tutorials, visit


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Editor-In-Chief, Publisher at Broadcast Beat Magazine, LLC.
Ryan started working in the broadcast and post production industry at the young age of twelve! He has produced television programs, built large post production facilities, written for some of the industry's leading publications and was an audio engineer for about ten years. Ryan previously wrote for Broadcast Engineering Magazine, Creative COW and his projects have been featured in dozens of publications.
Ryan Salazar
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