Two items that get talked about a lot, but how about them both working together? Felipe Baez has put together a tutorial on how Final Cut Pro X can work in a collaborative way with proxies stored in the cloud.
We have featured many tutorials on collaborative workflow in FCP.co Ben King and Sam Woodhall discovered how to make different sized proxies in FCPX. We have had cheating with aliases for proxies and even how to relink proxies and temp media. We also had a dabble ourselves in copying projects directly between Libraries.
This article from Felipe Baez goes one step further, tutorial video is at the bottom...
Sometime ago I was legally stopped from creating new workflows and sharing with the community, but now I don’t really have that limitation anymore and after meeting a lot of amazing professionals at IBC 2017, my brain finally sparkled again and had some crazy ideas to test.
What’s collaboration? According to “Hey Siri, what’s the definition of collaboration?” I get the following answer: “the action of working with someone to produce or create something.”. Building on that definition I’d add that collaboration is when multiple people work together in order to achieve a common goal. Some will say that’s working on the same timeline at the same time, I say maybe, why not? But in fact that’s not the only way to collaborate, having multiple Editors working on the same timeline for me sounds like ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’.
Collaboration can take many forms, one of which is having the many different roles in post- production working at the same time, without needing to wait for one to finish in order for the other one to start. Not saying necessarily they all start at the same time either.
The part of collaboration we’ll tackle is related to enabling people in remote locations (no matter how far) to work on lightweight proxies without the need to relink anything. I know, it sounds like this isn’t possible or that the caveat will be great, right? Well, not really.
The way we have been thinking about FCPX proxies to this date has always been in a way or another, related to relinking them, which we know is not really (easily) possible. This method will allow Editor A in location A to share a Master library with Editor B, C and D in 3 different locations (or however many locations) and when they open those Libraries they will select to work on Proxy and that’s it.
What you need?
- All editors to have an External drive in HFS+ or APFS with the same folder structure (network drive not supported at the moment)
- A cloud storage provider that allows to map the sync folder to an external drive. For the purposes of this article we’ll use Google Drive due to its speed (another article will cover speed comparisons between cloud storage providers)
The list of requirements is undoubtedly low and I have the feeling the more I write about it the more it seems like a fairy tale, but trust me, I tested this with editors in other countries and worked perfectly!
We’ll use the cloud storage as the conduit to keep and share Proxies with the other locations and right now you must be asking yourself “But hold on, uploading that many proxies and then downloading them will take a long time! They are huge!”. Well, compared to downloading R3D files, they can easily be just 10% the size of the original, which is miniscule.
FCPX creates Proxies in ProRes Proxy at half the resolution, so a R3D video from a RED Weapon 6K will still be a 3K ProRes Proxy. I have good news for you, by the end of this article you’ll see us using H264 proxies in whatever resolution and file size we want. SAY WHAT? Yes, you read it right. If the ProRes Proxy can be 10% the size of a R3D, our proxy can be 1% the size of the R3D.
I hope I got your attention now!
Editor A, B, C, D and all the rest of the alphabet, please setup your computers the same way as below:
- Name your external storage with the same name. For the purposes of this demonstration, the external disk of each editor is name “Edits
- Create a folder with a significant name in the external disk. For this demo we’ll call it “Cloud”
- Install Google Drive application. On the setup, set it to sync Google Drive to the Cloud folder your created on your external disk.
- Configure Google Drive to only sync specific folders, so you don’t download all the contents of the Google Drive account (beware, any files on Google Drive that are in the root will sync nonetheless)
Now all Editors are set. They all have an external drive that has a folder called Cloud that contains the contents from their Google Drive account. We’ll call Editor A our main editor, the one that has the original footage and the one that will share the proxies with others.
Editor A will:
- Create a folder for the Project he will share with other editors inside the Cloud folder. I’ll call it FCPX.
- Create a Library and set the Media folder to FCPX.
- At this point is probably a good idea that your Original Media doesn’t live inside the Google Drive folder, therefore Import the media for the project as “Leave in place”.
- Make sure the Google Drive app is closed and start to Transcode Proxies in FCPX.
Because at the time of Proxy creation the Media folder was set to the Google Drive synced folder, and we imported originals as Leave in Place, we only have Proxies in the Cloud folder.
Once all proxies have been created, Editor A will:
- Zip his Library and put inside /Edits/Cloud/FCPX folder.
- Instruct all other editors to copy the Zip to their Local system and work on their Libraries, just making sure the Library isn’t inside the Google Drive synced folder.
Editors B, C, D etc will Open the Library, Original Media will be offline but once they switch to Proxy, voilá, it’s all there.
Let’s recap. Editor A has a lot of RED RAW footage. Created ProRes Proxy in Final Cut, which can be about 10% the size fo the RED RAW and shared those proxies with other Editors. People elsewhere in the world are able to work on the same project, out of the comfort of their offices/ home office/den. Once The other editors finish their cuts, they can zip their Library and put back in that shared folder and the main Editor will be able to copy it to his system and get the cuts.
For most of the people this is good enough already, really good. This opens a lot of collaborative doors. But some people like to push the boundaries and will ask “Why can’t Apple let me choose my flavour of Proxy, the size I want with the bitrate and codec that I want?”. Well, today Apple doesn’t offer that option on FCPX, but, cry not my young Padawan, it turns out you CAN make those proxies even more size efficient.
Here’s it is the short version, which you can also watch on the video below, and maybe a long version will come on part 2 of this article. You can transcode those FCP created ProRes Proxy videos to H264 in almost whatever resolution, so long you keep the frame rate as the original and set your transcode to just passthrough the audio.
Once you’ve transcoded those files, just make sure their extension is .mov and they have the same names as the originals. Replace the originals and VOILÁ, it works! At that point, ANY of the Editors in Any location can do that, but it will affect the Proxies of all others. And the magical thing, no FCP restart required.
Founder and CEO of Cre8ive Beast s.r.o., a Production house in Prague, Czech Republic, Felipe has 10+ years experience in Video Production, Postproduction and Live Broadcast. Felipe has been editing on FCP since version 5 and adopted FCPX when it was released.