Collaborative editing. How's it done?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by J the Ninja, Oct 13, 2010.

  1. J the Ninja macrumors 68000

    Jul 14, 2008
    Quick backstory: I've found myself lead editor (and I guess post-pro coordinator) for a small student-made web series. (we're looking at 10-12 min episodes, released every 2 weeks or so) I've been able to round up a few other people interested in helping get the post production work done.

    Except, being students, none of us have experience working with other editors, we're all used to being one-person post departments. How do you break up the work? Does one person work on the first 5 minutes and the other person works on the other 5 minutes? And how do we pass media around? We'll be shooting on miniDV, do we just pack that in a Quicktime container and include an XML for exporting the sequence? (at the moment we have an FCP/Vegas mix, and somebody with iMove who wants to help. Not sure how that one will work)

    EDIT: Forgot to mention, I'm an FCP user myself.
  2. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    I've never really done this except for a stab at an entry for a film festival, but there's one thing I can say:
    That won't work. Unless you are breaking up clear, separate tasks to each person (iMovie for Titling, FCP for editing) you're asking for trouble moving stuff around. Don't create tasks just to include someone, get them doing something else. Or tag team: Ep1 on FCP, Ep2 on Vegas (you may be doing overlapping shooting/editing). Breaking it up into tiny little bits scattered over numerous places will have you chasing after files and worrying about transcoding and boring computery stuff rather than doing the actual editing.

    Get the iMovie guy to help with editing using FCP so he can then move into using FCE.
  3. boch82 macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2008
    You should never work on the same episode of a show on different editing systems. You are asking for trouble with that. Use Avid or FCP for all your editing. No other program is worth your time trying to work with.

    If you want to collaborate on a show the best way is to write the script and then have each person cut a section. Then ONE person needs to mesh all those together and finish the show.

    Everyone has a different editing style and unless ONE person has the final touches on something it will not feel right.

    I have worked on about 25 different shows and over 100 episodes in the past 6-7 years and almost every show more than one editor at one point or another. Its always best to have only one editor per episode but that isn't always ideal.
  4. matteusclement macrumors 65816


    Jan 26, 2008
    I always wondered too

    Although I have never done it, the tag team sounds the best. Maybe the person with iMovie could just get coffee for people? LOL.
    But come on, Final Cut Express is only $200....
  5. smokescreen76 macrumors member

    Sep 10, 2010
    I think it's a bit harsh saying don't use anything other than FCP or Avid. I would add Premiere and Vegas into the list.

    However you really are going to struggle if you are all on different systems.

    If you try to go ahead and work on different systems there will be no unity. Fonts will be different, dissolves and effects will render differently - the way that any grading is done will look different. It won't look very good.

    I don't use Sony Vegas so I have no idea about how importing and exporting xml's work with that system - there is practically no support for this in iMovie.

    In post production facilities when editors are working together they will run identical systems (hardware, software, plugins, fonts) and run from shared storage. Some systems (basically Avid) also support shared projects where multiple editors can easily share bins and sequences.
  6. ytk macrumors regular

    Jul 8, 2010
    I agree with others here. Don't try to mix applications on the same project. In fact, you shouldn't even really try to mix applications on the same series, in case you need to use shots or scenes from another episode. But trying to use different editing applications is asking for trouble, if you can even get it to work at all. Heck, just going from system to system on Final Cut Pro usually means having to relink a bunch of media files. Also, going from Mac to Windows is problematic, because neither system is really capable of editing from drives formatted for the other. You can read and transfer the media between HFS+ and NTFS drives with certain utilities, but trying to edit off NTFS on a Mac or HFS+ on Windows is going to be a problem.

    If everyone were using Final Cut Pro, here's what I'd do. Digitize all of the media for a given episode onto an external drive, using a folder structure that is organized by episode number and tape numer or shoot date. Also, make a folder for music and sound effects, and one for miscellaneous stuff such as stills, titles, effects, etc. For example,


    Then you need to clone that drive to a drive of the same size or larger, and give both drives the same exact name. As you get new media, you need to make sure it goes into the exact same place on every drive. Also, any sound effects, music, etc. should be copied to their appropriate folder and imported from there. NEVER import anything from any other folder, or you won't be able to find it when you move the project to another system. When you need to copy media from one drive to another, you can either just do it by hand if it's not that much, or try using rsync (or maybe try RsyncX if you're not big on Terminal).

    In terms of breaking up the work, that's kinda up to you, but I think the best way would be to divide each episode into sections and have someone stitch it together at the end. Since you're the lead editor, you should probably be the one doing the stitching so you can assure the overall style continuity from episode to episode. You could also have everybody edit an individual episode, but since everybody has a different cutting style it's going to be harder to ensure that the overall feel of the editing of the series stays the same. That's how it's done on a TV series--each editor edits a single episode--but there they have a showrunner or supervising producer whose job it is to keep an eye on that. If it's just going to be you, you're going to need to keep a bit closer watch on things as they proceed.
  7. boch82 macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2008
    How is that harsh 80% of broadcast tv shows are cut on Avid. FCP makes up the rest. There is no broadcast tv shows that are cut on Premiere or Vegas.
  8. howardnow macrumors member

    Mar 29, 2004
    I agree that using unified software is best. Not that it's meant to be this way, but with FCP you can buy one student copy and load the same software on each computer

    Yes, on an episodic network drama there are normally 3 editors - each working on one episode. Between the producer, studio and network they maintain a similar style from episode to episode.

    Especially with FCP, you will need to have unique clip names that match the file names. Example 10A-1 needs to be named 10A-1 101 (101 is the episode number). 10A-1 102 would be scene 10 take 1 of episode 2). This is so you can relink media (and properly use cinema tools for double system audio if needed). You can not relink media if all episode have the same clip name.
    Avid on the other hand, uses tape name and timecode to relink media (the clip name becomes less important as far as relinking goes.

    If you are shooting multiple episodes at the same time, then always have the episode number (as well as scene and take) clearly written on the slate.
  9. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    It's a student-made web series. They should use whatever gets the job done. Although I haven't looked at cross-platform compatibility, I reckon using Premiere Elements across multiple computers might be worth a shot. There's demo versions available.

    The biggest problem they'll have is organisation, not editing SW. As it happens, that's also the biggest problem for any production. Little secret: some of the stuff you do in school has not much to do with teaching you how to do an actual thing, but is more about teaching self-discipline, organisation, time management and team work. Learning the actual skill is only half of it.
  10. J the Ninja thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jul 14, 2008
    Thanks for all the feedback everyone. I think we might either tag-team, or just go all FCE/FCP, depending on how busy the Vegas guy is. Of course, all that is assuming they can actually get this written and shot in the first place. :)
  11. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    Something to remember: what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
  12. leon-geyer macrumors newbie

    Oct 19, 2010
    It is easy in final cut

    I think you can easly do it, even if you have different final cut versions, and if you dont want to copy all media to every computer. You don't even need to mirror disks as somebody says before - because Final Cut has the feature of reconnecting media.

    The idea is that all use one proyect, but everybody works on a different sequence, ergo its own timeline. At the end, you paste the sequences int one timeline and done..

    first: be sure to have all media with the same names! so, if you capture some media twice, give it the same timecodes, name, reelname, and so on. Or just do it once and then give it to your friends - the parts they need.

    Because if A edits just reel 1 and B edits reel 2, there is no problem in not having unused media inside of the computer, FCP will just say it is offline, but at the end you can reconnect media and have it all active again. Its quite useful to be really systematic with having all the media (etc) for one project in one folder - not because of malfunction, but because of mess...

    So you work in project X on the timeline A, then a friend, working on timeline B, passes you his version of project X, which you can open as X.1 (to avoid confusions), and then you simply paste and copy his timeline B in X.1 to your (new and empty) timeline B in your project X. If you have the media you just merge the timeline (in a new one or inside of A), reconnect if needed, and done. I even have done that with different versions, from 5 to 4, using the xml-export feature (if the latest xml version doesnt work, use one before)

    If you have final, it is really easy (I don't use others) - any questions, write to "whatever at" my domain, which is hautkai and then net.



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