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Work or Share Final Cut Pro Remotely with Splashtop

Work a remote machine running Final Cut Pro or share your live edit session with Splashtop.

I'm sure a few people here will remember iChat Theatre running on FCP7 back in 2009. It allowed you to share the viewer or canvas window with a client over iChat in real time and allowed you to video chat with each other. It helped to speed up client feedback without having to physically FedEx a DVD off to them.  

That feature didn't make it in to FCPX. It also suffered from low resolution and low frame rates, but it did provide an opportunity for instant approval or disapproval! 

Back to 2021 and there's a very good alternative way to share your live editing with clients, or remote into a machine and work a copy of Final Cut Pro from a distance.

Splashtop is an inexpensive service that allows you to share your desktop, audio, keyboard and mouse across the internet to a remote computer.

I'm pretty sure you can see straight away two possibilities for Splashtop and editing. I've done both and they both work well.

1) Work Final Cut Pro (Or any Mac app) on a machine from a remote machine - Maybe working from home but actually controlling the Mac at your work location.

2) Sharing your desktop with a client in real-time so that they can interact with you whilst you edit.

Ok, I understand there's going to be a lot of you thinking that Splashtop won't be able to stream an FCP GUI across the internet and allow a remote user to effortlessly skim across footage in the browser. I'm the biggest technology doubting Thomas out there, so here's me working FCP on a Mac Trash Can, 110 miles away from where it is installed. There is no local media and the instance of FCP running on the screen isn't FCP running locally. Sorry for the iPhone footage, but I didn't want the overhead or complication of screen recording on the remote machine.

 

Controlling a Remote Machine

Splashtop works by installing two pieces of software, the Business App on the machine you want to view from and a 'Streamer' client on the machine you wish to view and control. Both are available to download from the Splashtop site and there is a free trial so you can give it a good work out.

splashtop final cut pro 02

 

One really handy tip here, a pre-configured Streamer app is available as an HTML download link to send to a client or facility house whose machine you want to control.

splashtop final cut pro 01

 

Once you have the Streamer installed on the remote machine, opening up the Splashtop Business app will show the machines available to remote.

splashtop final cut pro 03

 

Then click on the screen icon and you will be able to view and control the remote machine. There is a slight wrinkle to get around and that's the audio settings.

Without a special configuration, a Mac can only output application audio via one device, internally or externally. To listen to the audio remotely, just set the sound preference to Splashtop Remote Sound.

Should you wish to have the sound outputting on the remote and local machine, you need to set up a Multi-Output Device in the Midi control panel. (Yes I never knew you could do that either!)

splashtop final cut pro 04 

Then assign the sound output to that device in the System Preferences.

splashtop final cut pro 05

This is essential if you want another person to listen to what you are doing on the other end.

Time for more testing and I thought I'd get fellow FCP editor John Matthews to try it out. I decided to share FCP on my iMac Pro via Splashtop, as he's been looking for a way to edit remotely, and he was very interested when I suggested the idea. 

splashtop final cut pro 06 

 

With a quick bit of configuration assigning John's machine to the Business app, he was up and running my machine whilst I sat in front of it! The screen grab of John's machine that he sent is lower quality than the original desktop grab, when you sit in front of a remote connection, the GUI is so crisp it is hard to believe it's not on your machine.

splashtop final cut pro 07

John explains -

Like many of us, I’d been looking for a Remote Desktop solution, basically a screen keyboard KVM extender! It was mainly so that I could jump in and assist on Projects.

It’s always Mac based, so the simplest solution is an iPhone or iPad, pointing at a monitor and FaceTime, or use the Messages app, since you can screen share, from the Buddies menu, and microphones are simultaneously connected. The problem though, is that the computer audio becomes attenuated, at both ends. As well as control of the screen, I also needed unattended access.

I had tried TeamViewer, but it was fiddly to set up, and although claiming to be free, limited in functionality, without paying £31.90 a month, for a single user version.

Then I tried Splashtop. With a free trial and priced at only $8.25 a month, for individuals and small teams, It was similar to set up as the others. But what surprised me, was the near zero latency. I continued to use FaceTime, in parallel for voice communication and was able to play and navigate a remote Mac running FCP. Even on my Copper wire to fibre broadband, I got almost full frame playback and sync audio. I think you can edit reasonably successfully by driving a remote Mac this way. Travelling anywhere at the moment to work, is problematic, so this looks like an inexpensive, "work from home," collaborative solution.

There was one problem that John found, that backed up what I had been experiencing. Remote skimming works really well in the Browser, but for some reason doesn't work on the Timeline. Not the end of the world, but it would have been nice to have that as per local machine control.

 

Editing with a Remote Client Watching and Listening

On to the second use case, and that's editing with a client watching and listening to your machine running FCP. Although the configuration is slightly harder, it works well and I've sat at my machine all day working collaboratively like this.

I have FaceTime open on a separate laptop so I can see and hear the client and vice-a-versa. As the latency is about the same, you don't get an annoying echo when editing.

After a few hours you tend to forget that they're not in the same room with you, it works that well. 

There is one wrinkle with this setup. If you are used to your client laying down voiceover when editing, you will have to find another way to get their voice into your Mac. The client recording a voice memo on their phone and messaging it to you works well, although it won't be locked to picture.

 

Conclusions

The last year has seen a big change in the way we work in post production. Editors and clients have been looking for solutions to enable remote working and Splashtop does exactly that.  Having used it in anger on different projects, I recommend you give the free trial a go, even if it's just to see the quality of the FCP GUI remotely.

As for security, I've used Splashtop in different locations (including hotel wifi) without any special security tweaks to routers or firewalls. As you will have open access to shared storage when controlling a machine on a network, it makes sense to disable the streamer and login once you have finished working with it. 

There is another product from Splashtop called Mirroring360 Pro for sharing your desktop. I haven't tried it, but it might be less involved with configuration, should you just want to share your screen and audio. I've heard that there are a couple of other services such as Parsec that perform similar tasks to Splashtop. 

To go back to the first thought of the article recounting the sad death of iChat Theatre, how cool would it be for Splashtop to release a Workflow Extension for Final Cut Pro that triggered off a screen share and FaceTime call with a click? 

Maybe I should email them with the suggestion :)

 

 

 


Written by
Top Blogger Thought Leader

I am the Editor-in-Chief of FCP.co and have run the website since its inception ten years ago.

I have also worked as a broadcast and corporate editor for over 30 years, starting on one inch tape, working through many formats, right up to today's NLEs.

Under the name Idustrial Revolution, I have written and sold plugins for Final Cut Pro for 13 years.

I was made a Freeman of Lichfield through The Worshipful Company of Smiths (established 1601). Though I haven't yet tried to herd a flock of sheep through the city centre!

Current Editing

great house giveaway 2020

2020 has been busy, the beginning of the year was finishing off a new property series (cut on FCP) for Channel 4 called The Great House Giveaway. I also designed and built the majority of the graphics as Motion templates. It has been a great success and the shows grabbed more viewers in the 4pm weekday slot than any previous strand. It has been recommissioned by C4 for 60 episodes, including prime-time versions and five themed programmes. 

Tour de france 2020
Although both were postponed to later in the year, I worked again on ITV's coverage of the Tour de France and La Vuelta. 2020 was my 25th year of editing the TdF and my 20th year as lead editor. The Tour was the first broadcast show to adopt FCPX working for multiple editors on shared storage.

 

BBC snooker the crucible

BBC's Snooker has played a big part in my life, I've been editing tournament coverage since 1997. I'm proud to be part of a very creative team that has pioneered many new ideas and workflows that are now industry standard in sports' production. This is currently an Adobe Premiere edit.

amazon kindle BF

Covid cancelled some of the regular corporate events that I edit such as trade shows & events. I was lucky however to edit, from home, on projects for Amazon Kindle, Amazon Black Friday, Mastercard and very proud to have helped local charitable trust Kendall & Wall secure lottery funding.

As for software, my weapon of choice is Final Cut Pro and Motion, but I also have a good knowledge and broadcast credits with Adobe Premiere Pro, MOGRT design and Photoshop.

Plugin Design & Development

I'm the creative force behind Idustrial Revolution, one of the oldest Final Cut Pro plugin developers. It hosts a range of commercial and free plugins on the site. One free plugin was downloaded over a thousand times within 24 hours of release.

I also take on custom work, whether it is adapting an existing plugin for a special use or designing new plugins for clients from scratch. Having a good knowledge of editing allows me to build-in flexibility and more importantly, usability.

FCP.co

Now in its 10th year and 4th redesign, running FCP.co has given me knowledge on how to run a large CMS- you are currently reading my bio from the database! Although it sounds corny, I am pretty well up on social media trends & techniques, especially in the video sector. The recent Covid restrictions has enabled live FCP.co shows online. This involves managing a Zoom Webinar through Restream.io to YouTube and Facebook. 

The Future

I'm always open to new ideas and opportunities, so please get in touch at editor (at) fcp.co. I've judged film competitions, presented workflow techniques to international audiences and come up with ideas for TV shows and software programs!

 

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peteramwiggins's Avatar
peteramwiggins replied the topic: #112541 08 Feb 2021 17:22
Oh - and a big thank you to John and also Dan T in Ealing for helping out
LifeSMyth's Avatar
LifeSMyth replied the topic: #112542 08 Feb 2021 18:08
I'm curious about how other screen sharing software would work. I gave up TeamViewer because of the expense when i could get Jump Desktop as part of my setapp subscription. I'll have to try Jump and see how well that works. They have a similar client side sharing app that isn't the full utility.
Ben Balser's Avatar
Ben Balser replied the topic: #112546 08 Feb 2021 19:00
Yeah, TeamViewer just nose dived into oblivion. Our TV station switched to ConnectWise. Because of a write up I found somewhere else last year, I set up a Splashtop account for my personal/professional use outside of the station. Loving it so far!
csinclair's Avatar
csinclair replied the topic: #112560 09 Feb 2021 03:19
Jump Desktop all the way. It supported audio streaming early last year, and also a low-latency setting. Updates often and works/sets up easily via google auth. I use my iPhone iPad and laptop to connect and edit from the office all the time. It’s flawless. And it switches audio config seamlessly so you don’t have to. Also auto sizes displays, and has great key input support.
Bluebicycle's Avatar
Bluebicycle replied the topic: #112567 09 Feb 2021 11:24
Great article. I'm hoping to be using this soon on a doc I'm assisting on.
joema's Avatar
joema replied the topic: #112568 09 Feb 2021 12:30
Anybody on a Mojave and later can use the screen sharing and remote control built into Messages: support.apple.com/guide/messages/screen-sharing-icht11883/mac

I've done this on remote FCP sessions and it was usable  but somewhat laggy. Turning off the skimmer was best. There is also an issue of limited control over remote volume. I could hear the remote FCP volume but I wouldn't want to edit audio that way. Despite some limitations, MacOS screen sharing is built in and doesn't require purchasing or installing anything.

The Splashtop video Peter posted showed good skimmer performance in the event browser which is impressive. It's great to see better options are being developed. Thank you for posting that.
DaveMaine's Avatar
DaveMaine replied the topic: #112851 22 Feb 2021 03:54
If you can live with the quality hit, zoom works well . Just set your zoom client to see your desktop, and use FCPX as usual. You won’t get remote control, but for casual 2 way discussions it works well, depending on your connect speeds.