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14 Nov 2020
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TOPIC: Proxy Remote Editing Workflow

Proxy Remote Editing Workflow 26 Oct 2020 19:40 #110623

  • enno
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Situation: My client/direcotr is shooting files in 4K, I'm editing 1000 miles away. He's going to be shooting interviews and b-roll over the course of the next 4 weeks.

Usually I'm editing in Premiere, but want to give FCP a shot on this one.

So, with Premiere I would do it as follows: My client shoots his footage, renders proxies and sends them via FTP or MASV. Using the proxies, I make my selects, start editing first rough cuts, go through interviews, b-roll etc.

Then when shooting is completed, my client would dump all his 4K footage to a drive, ship it to me.

I would finish my cut with the proxies and then conform with the 4K footage from his drive.

Is this possible in FCP? (My client doesn't own Final Cut, so there's no libraries he would be able to set up etc. Also, I don't want to burden him with that stuff. Asking him to render proxies is already enough of an ask. All the nitty gritty media management would have to be done on my end.)

Would I be able to re-connect the final clips in the project from the proxy to the 4k media?

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Proxy Remote Editing Workflow 27 Oct 2020 12:55 #110631

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enno wrote: ...My client/direcotr is shooting files in 4K, I'm editing 1000 miles away. He's going to be shooting interviews and b-roll over the course of the next 4 weeks....Usually I'm editing in Premiere, but want to give FCP a shot on this one...with Premiere I would do it as follows: My client shoots his footage, renders proxies and sends them via FTP or MASV. Using the proxies, I make my selects, start editing first rough cuts, go through interviews, b-roll etc.

Then when shooting is completed, my client would dump all his 4K footage to a drive, ship it to me.

I would finish my cut with the proxies and then conform with the 4K footage from his drive.

Is this possible in FCP? (My client doesn't own Final Cut, so there's no libraries he would be able to set up etc. Also, I don't want to burden him with that stuff....Would I be able to re-connect the final clips in the project from the proxy to the 4k media?


You have two challenges (1) Getting use to FCPX and using it most effectively yourself, and (2) Remote proxy workflow. These can both be handled but you must not take anything for granted.

On #1, the optimal FCPX workflow and mental approach is different from other track-oriented NLEs. With FCPX you don't jump straight to the timeline and start making stringouts. All the initial work is in the Event Browser - ingesting, marking rejects, favorites and keywords. If you want stringouts, consider using a compound clip for this (which then becomes a skimmable object in the Event Browser). Try to avoid copying/pasting between a bunch of timelines. FCPX is *range*-oriented, not clip-oriented, Do all multicam synchronization in the Event Browser first. Mark ratings and keyword ranges on the multicam clip not on the original parent clips. Run the Event Browser in "hide rejected" so it won't show the discarded ranges. See this post for more details: www.fcp.co/forum/4-final-cut-pro-x-fcpx/...and-timelines#105815

On #2, generating external proxies, uploading those to you, importing those proxies as original media, then later trying to relink to the full-res material -- that is risky. FCPX is not designed to work that way but some people with careful planning and *lots* of prior testing make it work. FCPX relink constraints described here: www.fcp.co/forum/4-final-cut-pro-x-fcpx/...4k-and-mp4-hd#110617

Now that FCPX 10.4.10 has official support for proxy-only libraries, the easiest and safest approach is for your remote collaborator to download the free 90-day trial version of FCPX, ingest and generate the proxies there, copy those to a proxy-only library, then upload that. This is hardly more difficult than generating external proxies via other methods and it ensures the full res material will relink. The alternative approach would require a lot of testing and work by you and the collaborator.

The overall approach would be he ingests each batch of clips to a separate FCPX library, using import with "leave files in place". Then create H264 50% proxies, which by default are stored inside the library, then copy that event to a proxy-only library via File>Copy Event to Library. On the copy dialog he would pick Media and only the "Proxy Media" checkbox. The checkbox "Copy media stored in external locations" would also be checked. Then he ZIPs the proxy-only library and uploads it to you. The next batch of clips he repeats that process, putting it in a separate ingest library or separate event, but copying the event to a separate proxy-only library. He simply renames each new proxy-only library for identification, ZIPs and uploads. Thus each batch of clips is in a separate proxy-only library.

As you receive those, just open the proxy-only library and copy each incoming event to your main library. You can curate the material in the Event Browser, sync multicams, etc. When you later receive the hard drive with full-res material, just relink to that. For details see this video starting at 16:18:


Basic things: Make sure all camera and recorder time of day clocks are set correctly EACH DAY. Make sure every camera is set to the same frame rate and color profile. DO NOT rename any media files after they are ingested to FCPX. Ideally rename or adjust filenames before ingest to be totally unique. This is easy to do by adding an incrementing 5-digit serial number using Finder. No matter what NLE it's best to have totally unique filenames. See this video for example:


Basic things: Make sure all camera and recorder time of day clocks are set correctly EACH DAY. Make sure every camera is set to the same frame rate and color profile. DO NOT rename any media files after they are ingested to FCPX. Ideally rename or adjust filenames before ingest to be totally unique. This is easy to do by adding an incrementing 5-digit serial number using Finder. No matter what NLE it's best to have totally unique filenames. See this video for example:

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Proxy Remote Editing Workflow 27 Oct 2020 22:07 #110638

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Yes. That makes sense. 100%. Thank you. I think that's the way forward.

Thank you for taking the time to write this detailed post. Very cool. Very helpful. Kinda awesome.

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Proxy Remote Editing Workflow 28 Oct 2020 14:30 #110642

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enno wrote: Situation: My client/direcotr is shooting files in 4K, I'm editing 1000 miles away. He's going to be shooting interviews and b-roll over the course of the next 4 weeks....


Starting with FCPX 10.4.9 there is provision for 3rd-party proxies if using the workflow apps Frame.io, KeyFlow Pro or PostLab. This would facilitate a remote collaborative workflow using cloud-based 3rd-party proxies. The remote people would not have to be expert at transcoding or FCPX but simply use the simplified interface. Apple described it as "Editors can now link to proxy media generated by third-party applications via XML. Examples include Frame.io, a cloud-based creative collaboration platform for review and approval, plus asset management tools like Keyflow Pro and PostLab."

www.apple.com/newsroom/2020/08/final-cut...rkflow-improvements/

Testing shows there was an enhancement starting at 10.4.9 which adds the disk pathname of any existing FCPX-generated proxies to an exported library or event XML file. Furthermore starting with 10.4.9, FCPX will read that XML and not only link the original media but *also* link the proxies. Before that version, loading a library XML resulted in disconnected proxies.

This implies 3rd-party apps (not just the above three workflow apps) can now construct the required XML to tell FCPX to link 3rd-party proxies, which could hypothetically include camera-generated proxies or proxies generated by Handbrake or other tools.

However the underlying mechanism of this is apparently undocumented, so outside the above three apps, it's unclear how a utility developer would produce a tool to relink 3rd-party or camera-generated proxies.

I speculate the secret procedure might be something like the below. Two hypothetical scenarios are shown, one originating with FCPX with media available, and the other with the 3rd party app at a remote location where they don't have FCPX.

Both FCPX and Media Available:

- Import media to FCPX
- Export library XML to 3rd party app
- 3rd party app parses XML to obtain pathnames of original media
- 3rd party app transcodes original media to user-specified resolution and codec, maintaining original filenames for proxies.
- 3rd party app uses XML from FCPX to construct modified XML which adds the pathnames of the new 3rd-party proxies.
- FCPX loads the modified XML from the 3rd-party app which links the 3rd-party proxies to original media files.

Media and 3rd-Party App at Remote Location Without FCPX:

- App scans media files to build file list.
- App transcodes original media files to proxies, using user-specified resolution and codec.
- App builds XML which contains references to both original media files and newly-generated proxies, likely maintaining the original filenames for each group.
- Proxies are sent to main site, along with XML.
- At main site FCPX loads the 3rd-party XML which specifies both original media and 3rd-party proxy pathnames.
- Original media will be off line, proxies may be offline if pathname doesn't match remote site but proxy relink should be possible.
- Editing commences at main site using proxy-only library and 3rd-party proxies.
- Original full-res media is later sent to main site on a hard drive. Media can then be relinked.

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Proxy Remote Editing Workflow 28 Oct 2020 23:06 #110645

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Quote joema: This implies 3rd-party apps (not just the above three workflow apps) can now construct the required XML to tell FCPX to link 3rd-party proxies, which could hypothetically include camera-generated proxies or proxies generated by Handbrake or other tools.
——
My testing actually revealed that you can generate the Proxies externally and relink to them without the need of a XML.
What I do is to generate Proxies using compressor where I make sure to pass through the audio unchanged (which I think is one of the biggest hurdles when relinking).
You could therefore get your client to just convert the original media via a preset that you can setup for the software of choice. They still would need to send you the FCP XML generated from the library they create with original media managed externally (leave in place). If they send you the FCP XML you can import that into your library and relink manually to the Proxies they send as well.
The reason that you need to have a FCP lib or XML to start with before you can relink to a set of Proxies, no matter how they were generated, is that you can’t create a library with placeholders for originals from just importing Proxies movie clips. Once you have a lib that has the database for the original clips, you are free to link to diff sets of Proxies (given they were created as either prores proxy or h264 with the right pixel dimensions and audio configuration).

Whatever you do test the workflow before you commit to one :-)

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Last edit: by cofe. Reason: Misspelled name

Proxy Remote Editing Workflow 29 Oct 2020 13:24 #110647

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cofe wrote: ...My testing actually revealed that you can generate the Proxies externally and relink to them without the need of a XML...generate Proxies using compressor...They still would need to send you the FCP XML generated from the library they create...


Thanks for those details, but I don't see the advantage for the OP's case. He (and all others in that situation) want to avoid a remote collaborator who does not have FCPX then having to obtain it and figure out a procedure.

OTOH, IF he gets the 90-day trial version of FCPX I don't see the advantage of also getting Compressor and using it to generate proxies. Starting with 10.4.9, FCPX already has ability to generate H264 proxies at various frame sizes, and there are well-documented simple procedures for a remote collaborator using that feature to send a small proxy-only library. Even a Director could figure it out :) I just did a test and using 50% H264 proxies, they are only 3% the size of 4k ProRes originals.

The question is can you do that without FCPX? IOW generate the proxies and XML using some simple utility which is compatible with FCPX?

Various utilities already generate XML for various situations. E.g, PluralEyes, Tentacle Sync Studio, etc. Without requiring FCPX or a library on site, they already generate XML which tells FCPX (possibly at a remote site) to link files. Since the revised 10.4.9 XML format now supports both original media *and* proxies, it would seem such a utility could be developed. You'd point the utility at a folder of offloaded media, it would transcode proxies and generate XML. The XML and small proxies would be uploaded to another site. The idea is this would be simpler or somehow better than using FCPX at the remote site for proxy generation.

However -- the procedure for using FCPX merely for ingest, proxy generation and creating a proxy-only library is quite straightfoward. FCPX itself is only $299. If a hypothetical stand-alone proxy generation utility existed, it might be $100, and might be simpler, but we don't know. It would have to handle many different camera codecs and be constantly updated for XML changes. It would incur an ongoing support commitment from the developers to handle evolving codecs and FCPX/XML compatibility issues.

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Proxy Remote Editing Workflow 29 Oct 2020 18:28 #110649

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In regard the OP, yes, you can do exactly what you are suggesting.
This workflow is actually very easy.

you can import the 'proxy' media directly into FCPX, edit your projects and use the 'relink original media' option in FCPX to relink to the Original media once it arrives. no need for an fcpxml exchange at all, and FCPX is only used for the editing.

the key here is that FCPX seems more flexible than it used to be for relinking.

for example:
I just used the attached settings for a transcode in KYNO.
The original media was 4096x2160 media from an EVA1, and the proxy I generated was HEVC 1280x720.
(Better would have been to have chosen to choose "scale 25%" in Kyno, but still the point is.... it worked!!)

The Key to success is to have the audio passthrough/copy, and have the timecode & frame rate match the original. Having the resolution scaled appropriately is also best. ((unlike my example above ;) )). I also suggest keeping the names the same, as FCPX likes to keep the name of the media that was first imported. ie; the proxy.

It should be also noted that the Original media was located in a FCPX Archive, but I don't think that had any effect in the relinking procedure. that being said, FCPX like to recognize 'card structures'. So when making the 'proxies' don't have them mirror the card structure of the original files, if so, fcpx won't allow you to 'leave in place'.

As always do a small test with some short clips to avoid any 'gotchas'. for example I'm not sure how fcpx would handle "relinking original media" to REDRAW files or the like.

When 10.4.9 came out, and tested this workflow with our cameras, I was incredibly happy! It has enabled a whole new dropbox based workflow for our team.

Happy editing, and stay safe out there.
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