We have covered making smaller proxies in Final Cut Pro X and sharing those with a remote editor a few times before. Jordan Smith takes it a stage further and streamlines the workflow into a quick & simple process.
I produce a weekly—sometimes twice weekly—video podcast for a small homeschool publisher. To keep up with the weekly deadline, I hired an assistant editor to do basic setup tasks like labeling, syncing angles, setting up multicam clips, identifying mistakes where cuts will need to be made to cover, and generating LUTs with DaVinci Resolve for color correction. My assistant lives in another state, so I needed a way to share my Final Cut libraries with him through a shared cloud folder—we use Google Drive—that would keep file sizes small for relatively fast download/upload times.
I did some research on how others had approached this problem. On FCP.co, I found a tutorial describing how to generate smaller proxy files with Compressor to dramatically shrink the library size, but his process had two problems for my workflow: First, I needed to be able to send along audio files, which Final Cut doesn’t include in proxies. Second, Jon’s workflow had a complicated Google Drive setup that I couldn’t figure out—it’s possible that an update to Google Drive removed the features the workflow relied on.
After some experimenting, I came up with a modified version of Jon’s workflow that solves both problems and simplifies the sharing process. Here’s how my system works:
1. Create a folder on your scratch disk for the dailies. Transfer your media from the camera or audio recorder to that folder.
2. Import the video media with the “Leave files in place” option selected.
3. Import the audio files with the “Copy to library” option selected
4. Select all of the video files in the library and generate proxy media using the Transcode Media command.
5. Once the proxies are generated, go to Finder, do “Show package contents” on the library, find the proxies, and drag them into Compressor.
6. Set up a Compressor job with smaller frame size and bit rate settings. I found that H.264 compression at 1000kbps with a 1/4 frame size was a good balance between file size and quality—a smaller bit rate makes the proxy media too fuzzy for LUT generation. The frame size must be a ratio of the original media size for Final Cut to recognize the proxy, so 1/2 size, 1/4 size, etc. For a 1080p source, I generate a 480x270 file, which is 1/4 of 1080p. Make sure on the Audio tab that “Enable audio pass-through” is checked. Without this, Final Cut will not recognize the proxy files!
7. Have Compressor create the smaller proxy media in a separate folder.
8. Once the proxies are generated, replace the proxies in the Final Cut library with the ones you just created.
9. Return to Final Cut and verify that the proxies are recognized by switching to proxy media.
10. Zip the library and upload it to your shared cloud folder. It’s important to zip the library because shared folder services like Google Drive or Dropbox think the library package is a folder and will corrupt it if it’s not zipped.
At this point, the assistant editor can download the library and label media, make multicam clips, apply effects, create a rough cut, and so on. Once the assistant is finished, they zip the library and upload it to the shared cloud folder for the editor to download and finalize.
That’s it! I use this workflow every week as dailies come in from the camera crew. It’s held up for three months of production and I foresee it lasting until Apple decides to add collaboration features… maybe in 10.5? :-)
Jordan is a video producer at Simply Charlotte Mason, a small homeschool publisher based in the Atlanta, GA, area. He produces their weekly video podcast and workshop videos, all with Final Cut Pro X. He lives in Georgia with his wife and their two daughters.