collaborative workflow patent

This week Apple won a patent that specifically details various collaborative media production processes. There's a lot of detail in the document too - could this be a hint of what is to come for Final Cut Pro X?

The patent was awarded this week but was originally filed back in 2008. Final Cut Pro gets a mention, but so does Final Cut Express and quite remarkably iMovie which makes you think that FCPX wasn't on the radar at the time.

There is a lot of information in the patent which we hope somebody will go over with a fine toothed comb looking for possible clues to upcoming functionality. The fact that Apple has a patent doesn't mean that a feature will magically appear in a new version, but this document does provide an insight into how deeply Apple has considered the collaborative workflow process.

No pictures at the moment, all we get from the document bizzarely is the request to install an old version of QuickTime. We have pushed the boat out and ordered a copy of the patent so we'll post the diagrams when they arrive.

After reading the online document twice we found out the following:

  • Collaborative working can be available over any communication network, private, public or the internet.
  • Collaboration can be time separated or instant.
  • More than one person can be working on the project at any one time.
  • Notes, audio comments or metadata can be inserted onto the work to highlight changes needed.
  • The originator of the project can maintain editorial control.
  • The originator of the project can approve or block revisions by collaborators.
  • Files can be exchanged to sync originators & collaborators media - background synching too.
  • A publish & subscribe model is possible.
  • Permissions can be set for example to allow change of titles but not move any of the edits.
  • Communication between parties is possible whilst editing and/or reviewing.

 

Those possible future features covered by the patent stood out, but there is much more. Let's take a quick look at the document summary - make sure you have some coffee handy!

Update - The PDF has arrived. This is the best diagram. Light Table Source anybody?

collaborative workflow patent2

This specification describes technologies relating to collaboration on media production. In one example, one or more media projects are produced through the collaborative efforts of at least one originator (or "the originator") and one or more collaborators (or "the collaborator"). A collaboration environment can be created such that the originator can communicate in real-time with the collaborator over a communication network. Further, the originator can communicate through an originator interface provided by a collaborative software application installed, e.g., on the originator's computer system. At least one item of media content associated with the media project can be shared with the collaborator over the communication network. In addition, one or more source files associated with the media project can be identified by the collaborative software application and shared with the collaborator. Depending on an assigned privilege level, the collaborator can review, provide feedback, edit and/or otherwise manipulate the media project. 

In one aspect a computer-implemented method for collaborative media editing includes presenting, to an originator, an originator interface including multiple media panes. A connection with a collaborator is established. A selection indicating an item of media content associated with at least one of the multiple media panes is received from the originator. The selected item of media content is transmitted to the collaborator. Inter-user communication relating to the selected item of media content in the originator interface with the collaborator is enabled. 

This and other aspects can include one or more of the following features. One or more source files associated with the item of media content that are not stored at the collaborator can be identified. The one or more source files can be transmitted to the collaborator. Transmitting the one or more source files can be performed automatically upon identifying the one or more source files. The selected item of media content can be presented in a collaborator interface including at least one media pane. A privilege level for manipulating the item of media content can be assigned to the collaborator. The inter-user communication can be performed in real-time. A connection with a second collaborator can be established. The selected item of media content can be transmitted to the second collaborator. Inter-user communication relating to the selected item of media content in the originator interface with the second collaborator can be enabled. The item of media content can be revised to generate a revised item of media content. A message to a notification service identifying the revised item of media content can be transmitted. Transmitting to the collaborator the selected item of media content can include transmitting a copy of the selected item of media content. 

Particular implementations of the subject matter described in this specification can be implemented to realize one or more of the following potential advantages. For example, multiple remote users can simultaneously collaborate on a media project in real-time over a communication network. In addition, multiple remote users can collaborate on a media project asynchronously over a communication network. Moreover, an originator can assign varying privilege levels to a collaborator for collaborating on the media project. For example, depending on the assigned privilege level, the collaborator can review, provide feedback, edit and/or otherwise manipulate various portions of the media project. Additionally, multiple items of media content can be presented, or displayed, in multiple media panes of an originator interface, which can be provided by a collaborative software application. Further, the collaborative software application can enable the originator to selectively share items of media content with the collaborator. For example, the originator can select to share a media project script (or "storyboard") of the media project with the collaborator. In addition, the originator interface can be configured to integrate remote communication with collaborative media manipulation. 

Similarly, the multiple items of media content can be presented in at least one media pane of a collaborator interface. The collaborator interface also can be configured to integrate remote communication with collaborative media manipulation. Moreover, one or more source files of the media project associated with the originator's system can be identified by the collaborative software application and shared with the collaborator. For example, the source files can include video clips, audio clips, transitions, text or titles. Sharing the one or more source files with the collaborator can ensure that the collaborator has access to all the files comprising the media project. Additionally, the source files can be automatically shared upon establishing a connection with the collaborator. For example, the source files can be synched and transferred automatically upon the collaborative software application establishing the connection between the originator and the collaborator. 

In addition, the media project can be stored on the originator's local computer system in which the collaborative software application is installed and shared over the communication network with at least the collaborator. Alternatively, the media project can be stored on a remote server such that it is accessible to the originator and one or more collaborators. For example, the media project can be stored on a shared computing system such that the collaborating users can access the media project simultaneously without requiring the items of media content to be shared in a live datastream. Further, the collaborator can receive a notification from the originator notifying the collaborator that the media project is available. For example, a publish/subscribe communication model can be used to notify the collaborator whenever an update to a subscribed media project is available. Alternatively, updates to a media project can be provided using an RSS feed. Similarly, the originator can receive a notification from the collaborator indicating that a particular media project has been accessed, reviewed, edited, or otherwise manipulated. 

Moreover, collaboration on the media project can be performed even when the collaborator does not have access to the collaborative software application used by the originator. For example, the collaborator can collaborate with the originator through a chat application installed, e.g., on the collaborator's computer system. In addition, pre-edited and post-edited versions of the media project can be accessed by the originator and the collaborator. Further, changes to the media project can be emphasized. For example, the media project can be presented such that changes are highlighted, colored, projected larger, outlined or otherwise enhanced. Additionally, the collaborative software application can notify users of editing conflicts and facilitate resolving such conflicts. For example, if the collaborating users make disparate edits to the same portion of the media project, the collaborative software application can notify the collaborating users of the editing conflict. In addition, collaboration can occur dynamically in real-time without requiring the media project to first be recorded on a writable medium.

 

There is no indication or guarantee that any of these features could make it into FCPX, but we can dream can't we? More details are in the patent document filed at USPTO.