Skip to content (Press Enter)

How to annotate videos with clear, actionable feedback

Tasked with reviewing a video project but don’t know how to keep your comments focused and actionable? Learn how to provide high-quality video annotations that give precise actions and clear next steps.

Discover Dropbox Replay
A pair of videographers review their footage on a laptop.

Getting video projects approved can be a pain – especially when the process of gathering feedback is unnecessarily long or disorganised.

To optimise the video production process, it’s important that reviewers give feedback that’s direct. This includes annotations – comments, reactions and suggestions for how a video can be improved.

In this guide, we’re going to explore how to annotate video content so that getting a project across the line is made simpler for everyone. But first, let’s explain exactly what we mean when we talk about annotating videos.

Jump to section

What are annotations in a video?

In a video project, annotations are part of the review and approval process. Those providing feedback on your projects can use a video review tool like Dropbox Replay to add comments with revision requests (or praise!) to specific frames.

But why bother using an annotation platform to provide feedback? Here’s what one Dropbox Replay user has to say:

‘Before we used Replay, we had the dreaded black hole of sending emails out, attaching a video file and then having collaborators face issues downloading or playing the file. And we’d get feedback about ‘that part where the guy in the blue kicks the ball’, which was hard to pinpoint. With Replay, they can immediately play the video and make time-stamped comments and annotations, even without any specialised software.’ 

 Rachel Jedwood, Production Officer, National Rugby League

Two filmmakers review their footage on their video camera.

Tips for annotating video projects

Here’s how you can provide great annotations to ensure every video project reaches its full potential.

Understand the project goals

Video annotation tools help to simplify the project workflow by making it easier for reviewers to provide comments with feedback.

But, in order to facilitate this, there need to be clear project goals driving both the production and post-production of the video. Reviewers need to know the objectives, intended use and target audience of the video when providing their annotations – otherwise, they won’t have the context needed to offer relevant and actionable recommendations.

Project goals will be based on a range of important factors, including:

  • Brand image and values – how does this video represent the brand?
  • Message and intention – who is this video attempting to serve, and what is it trying to say?
  • Distribution – how is this video going to be shared with its intended audience? Publicly through social media, or privately with limited access?
  • Longevity – will the video be ‘evergreen’ content that stays fresh for a long time, or is the subject matter time-sensitive? 

As the person providing the annotations, you should familiarise yourself with the project goals of the video before making your comments.

Choose software that’s accessible and easy to use

There are various tools available to help you annotate videos – but not all of them will be suitable to achieve the project goals or beneficial to you as the reviewer.

Some things to consider when choosing your annotation software include:

  • Collaboration and shareability – will the tool be easy for the video editor (and other reviewers) to access and use? Will they need to download and install extra software to be able to collaborate on the video?
  • Reviewer hardware – what type of device(s) will you and other reviewers be using when providing your annotations?
  • Technical – will the tool support the file format/size of the video you need to review?
  • Accuracy – can you provide annotations on particular frames or elements, or just general comments after the video has played?

With Dropbox Replay, you can send a video out for review with just a link. Browser-based reviews mean anyone can provide frame-specific feedback – no special software or Dropbox account necessary.

Two creatives review the plans for a project.

Be constructive with your comments

It’s worth the reminder: what you say in your annotations should actively help improve the video. Whether you’re commenting on the pacing, framing, lighting or product visuals, your comments need to be focused and clear so that the revised video is sharper and a better fit for the intended audience.

This again relates to the project goals. Understanding what the video is trying to achieve will give you a strong foundation for recognising which elements are working and which need a bit more attention from the editor.

Providing constructive criticism often means putting aside your personal preferences and subjective opinions on what makes good video content. If you don’t think something is quite working, your annotations should explain why this is the case and offer potential solutions or workarounds.

Give references and examples where possible – this gives the video editor a clearer sense of direction when it comes to actioning the feedback provided in your annotations.

Be consistent

There’s nothing more frustrating for video editors than when their reviewers give conflicting feedback.

When annotating a video, try to provide the same level of detail in all of your comments. This is easier when you choose software that allows you to attach annotations to specific time frames. You can pinpoint exactly where you think something should be changed, rather than burying your comments within a long message or email.

Consistency in your feedback also means keeping your annotations in one place – not spread out over different platforms and tools. 

Dropbox Replay makes it easy to consolidate comments, take action on feedback and finalise your video projects in one place. Upload videos and access feedback directly from Adobe Premiere Pro, Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve and other editors – no more hopping from app to app.

Dropbox Replay UI showing the review and approval process for video files

How to annotate videos in Dropbox Replay

In Dropbox Replay, all you need to start annotating is a link to the video. You can review the video in your own time, or the video owner can set up a live review session so you and any other reviewers can watch the video at the same time.

To add annotations to a video file in Dropbox Replay:

  • Drag and drop the playhead or click on the timeline to select the frame you’d like to comment on
  • Type your comment in the text field in the bottom-right corner
  • Click the Post button

Your annotation will appear at the time frame you selected in the timeline. You can also edit your comments by clicking the ‘’ (vertical ellipsis) then Edit, or resolve comments via the circle icon next to a comment. Other reviewers can respond to your comments by clicking Reply.

Give clear, helpful annotations on video projects with Dropbox Replay

Dropbox brings everything you need to elevate your video collaboration process without sacrificing your favourite tools and editing apps. 

With Dropbox Replay, you can give and receive precise feedback, keep versions under control and get projects across the finish line in a more streamlined and efficient way.