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Final Cut Pro Collaboration of several editors using DropBox

Editing live on the internet has the major advantage of allowing two or more editors to access the same Final Cut Library for collaborative editing.

There are some rules to follow, this "making of" video will show you quickly how to get up to speed and avoid the pitfalls of the internet.

I use Final Cut Pro as the editing suite and a DropBox Business account as the location where the Final Cut Pro Library containing the Project is stored and edited.

The key to the collaboration

is the positioning of the Final Cut Pro Library on the internet within Dropbox, not on a physical computer.

This allows the Library to be viewed and edited from any location without any uploads or downloads.

Just as if the computers are on the same network in the same office.

The real beauty of editing in dropbox is when the edit is completed - it’s almost immediately available to another editor anywhere in the world because the syncing has been happening while the edit has been in progress with only recent changes having to sync.

The added bonus is you don’t need to export it, as all the editing happens live to the library in DropBox.

Let’s look at how the Business DropBox was set up.

The default Dropbox Business account has three users.

For the RAGBRAI event we had 2 shooters, 1 x editor and 1 x director. That’s 4 users - so how did we manage the extra person?

The director and editor take up 2 user accounts so they can both edit the Final Cut Pro library.

The third user position was given to one of the shooters so that he could upload his footage directly to the business dropbox.

The second shooter fortunately had his own independent dropbox account, that he uploaded to and sent the links to a WhatsApp group account.

He could’ve used any cloud service, as you will see in the video.

Clips in any DropBox account can be seamlessly transferred to the business Dropbox account without having to download them to a computer, then the 2nd dropbox opens automatically to show the transferred files.

It’s a similar process for video clips that have been uploaded to other Cloud services like Mega, or iCloud, they can be set to download direct to DropBox.

I demonstrate the process in the video.

Mentioning the WhatsApp account brings up a major consideration about remote collaboration.

Communication is the key to everyone being on the same page using a WhatsApp group account is perfect, though other messenger services should be just as good.

As the saying goes - “there are no silly questions” and this applies in spades when collaborating.

Always tell the WhatsApp group what you are doing. Ask questions if you are unsure.

It’s particularly important, if possible, for shooters uploading footage to advise when they are starting an upload - how many files and when they see the upload completed.

The next important consideration is the file organization within DropBox.

There are two ways of looking at file organisation.

1. What the shooter sees - have just one folder to upload to

2. How the actual footage is organised for the editor.

Number one rule is not to confuse the shooter who is uploading the video clips with a nested file structure -

they are likely stressing to get a good WiFi upload location, so don’t need to be confused as to where to upload their video.

Best to have an obvious folder in Dropbox for each the shooters to upload to - I would refer to that a “bucket” to dump everything into without them having to think about it.

Once they have uploaded their clips, then the editor can move the files to the his appropriate folders.

It’s from the editor’s folders that the clips are then imported into Final Cut Pro, this ensures that none are missed.

The added advantage of bucket approach is that after the “Bucket” folder has been emptied, any extra or slow-to-upload clips they will show up in the “Bucket” folder later, so that the editor can easily recognise they are extras and not miss them.

The Shooter is the 1st Editor There is a fine balance between too much footage and not enough to complete the edit.

The shooter needs to be aware that what they shoot needs to be pertinent, without being too lean.

Too much footage means too big a file - download times will be too long.

The hardest thing to control is the internet - so stress it as little as possible, while still having enough footage to fill the edit.

Have the “Bucket” Folders in Upper case, so they are easily visible to the shooter to upload to.

The Editor’s folder organization.

Because there were 8 days in the RAGBRAI event each day has a main folder. These contain folders for each shooter only for the editors to use, as opposed to the "Bucket folders" that the Shooters dump into. Within each of these Shooters Folder are the folders for the various tyres of footage iPhone, Ext Audio, Drone, Action Cam.

The folders are left exposed, until after import to Final Cut Pro, so you can see their contents.

After the footage is imported into Final Cut Pro the folders are closed. This is a check that the footage has been imported.

If you’re in doubt whether clips have been imported, try to import again, Final Cut Pro will not duplicate the clips if it already has them.

The Final Cut Pro library, which is created in Final Cut Pro and stored in each Day's folder.

There’s a folder called “Edits resources” for anything to do with that day other than shooters footage.

Transferring Clips from a Cloud account.

If a Shooter does not have direct access to the DropBox account as above, they can upload to any cloud storage. I'll explain how to transfer footage from another dropbox account and then from other cloud storage - Mega as the example.

Once you’ve received the DropBox link, clicking it will open in the shooter’s DropBox.

There you can select the folder that you want to transfer.

Once you have opened the folder you can ONLY transfer ALL of the files contained in the folder. This means if further files are added later you will be forced to transfer the first lot again. No drama - just added sync times.

Click the “Download to DropBox”, it will tell you where it is going - press Save, the 2nd dropbox will open at that folder.

You can then drag to any folder in your dropbox.

If you use Mega you will be able to set the destination folder as DropBox - this would most likely apply for other cloud services that you may use.

Select the files to transfer, click the download button at the bottom of the window and then nominate the folder, in your DropBox, that you want to transfer to.

Now in your dropBox you will be able to access that file.

DropBox Status Icons.

Now let’s look at the symbols in Dropbox that will tell you what state the files are in.

To be clear - the labels relate to YOUR user account - other users could be different. The status labels are to the right.

A Green tick means it is available for your user account to access.

Blue Recycle sign means it is being synced. (If you uploaded it then you should be able to access it), but other users will not be able to access it


Grey Cloud icon, means it is stored in the cloud - you don’t have immediate access to it.

If you right click on the files with a grey cloud you’ll be able to “make available offline” this could take some time to be available for you, depends on the file size and speed of your connection.

When you right click you’ll also see “Make online-only” This will remove the file from your computer, but keep it online. Immediately the status will change to a blue recycle and then later will show a grey cloud.

When does DropBox store on your computer.