FCP X 10.1: Collaboration

Posted on by Larry

[ This article looks at collaboration. My next article will examine backup and archiving techniques for Final Cut Pro X 10.1. ]

Collaboration is the process of sharing media, events or projects between editors or other staff. Final Cut Pro X v10.1 provides a wide variety of ways to collaborate, but they all start at the same place: importing your media. This article looks at collaboration in general and provides different examples of how editors can work together. However, there are more options than I have time to cover here. Check out the Additional Resources section at the bottom of this article for more information.

This is the third of four articles I’ve written on media management in Final Cut Pro X v10.1. The other three are:


Libraries are the master container and hold everything: media, events, projects, render files, transcoded files, metadata, everything.

Events hold clips and projects. Think of events as folders which you can organize as you see fit.

Projects are timelines; “sequences,” as Final Cut Pro 7 would call them.

Libraries can be stored anywhere and named anything that the Mac file system will allow. However, some library locations will be better than others. For example, you can store libraries on a thumb drive, however, storing that same library on a Thunderbolt RAID will yield better performance.

Media that is stored inside a Final Cut library is called “managed media,” because Final Cut manages it for you. Media that is referenced by a library, but stored outside it, is called “external media.”

NOTE: Once you are inside Final Cut itself, I recommend storing clips and projects in separate events within the library because it makes managing them easier. This organization is not required, but it is a good practice.


While Final Cut provides a variety of ways to reorganize media after you have it in the system, life is easiest when you plan to share files during import. When you import files, you have two key options for Media Storage that affect how easily you can share files.

When you Copy files into an event, Final Cut copies the files from where they are into the library. This creates what Apple calls “managed media.” These files are stored inside the library and travel wherever the library bundle goes.

NOTE: Libraries are called “bundles,” because they “bundle” a large number of files into a single location. Bundles are, essentially, special-purpose folders that act like a single file.

The good news about copying files into a library is that all your files are in one place, making them easy to manage, move, or backup. The bad news is that the library file size can be enormous because it contains all that media. (Enormous does not mean bad, simply that the file size is very big.)

When you Leave files in place, Final Cut creates a symlink, stored inside the library, that points to the location of the source files on your hard disk. “Leaving files in place” avoids duplicating your media.

NOTE: Symlinks are much more robust than the simple pointers we used in Final Cut Pro 7; they are even more robust than the aliases we use in the Finder. For example, if you rename a source file or the folder that contains it, Final Cut will still know where the source media file is located.

These symlinks are tiny, about 100 KB, which keeps the library bundle small. Even better, multiple libraries can point to the same media, without increasing the space you need for storage, because each library only points to the media, it doesn’t copy it. However, because media files are now separate from the library, you need to make sure you are backing up both the library and the media files.

Also, when you import media, use Events to stay organized. Since you can create an unlimited number of events inside a single library, create as many events as you need to help you organize your media.

UPDATE NOTE:  Mark Spencer points this out in the comments, but I want to also mention a new feature in the 10.1 update. Now, when you are importing from a camera card you can choose to copy the media to an external folder on a hard disk or shared network volume so that all editors can get to the media as soon as Final Cut is done importing from the camera. This is especially useful for multiple users with quick turn around situations like news and sports.

In previous versions we would need to import to a local hard drive, then copy the media to the shared storage. Now, this is all done in one step.



A Transfer Library is a library that is specifically created to share projects or events from one editor to another. Let me illustrate how to create a Transfer Library to share a project from one editor to another.

Select the project you want to share in the Browser.

Choose File > Copy Project to Library > New Library

Give the new library a name. You can name the library anything and store it anywhere.

To reduce the size of the project to its bare minimum, uncheck both these checkboxes. Your project should now only be a few megabytes and small enough to email.

NOTE: I recommend using Copy Project to Library, rather than Move Project to Library, principally because if anything goes wrong, you still have the original project.

UPDATE NOTE:  You do not need to delete any render files before moving or copying a Library. Final Cut does not copy this generated media when copying or moving libraries because that media can be quickly regenerated once the library arrives at the new destination. This makes the the transfer go more quickly and keeps the Transfer Library smaller.


Scenario 1: Two editors who are on the same network want to work on the same project.

Answer: While only one editor can be in a library at a time, the ability to quickly open and close libraries makes sharing simple.

Store the library on a network volume. When the time comes to give the project to another editor, simply close the library so that the other editor can open and work on it. Because both media and project files are stored in the library, each editor has access to the latest cut each time they open the library.

NOTE: Depending upon the video formats you are using and the bandwidth of your network, it may be easier to copy the library from the network to local storage.

– – –

Scenario 2: A producer in a different location wants to do a rough-cut for an editor, then have the editor polish the cut.

Answer: Import all media so that it is copied into a single library, then duplicate that library onto a second hard disk and give it to the producer. Because the media is stored inside the library, you don’t need to worry about cloning drives or matching file path names, the library handles all of that.

The producer opens the library inside their copy of Final Cut Pro X, creates a new project and edits a rough cut. When she is done with the rough cut, the producer selects the project and chooses File > Copy Project to new Library to create a new Transfer Library.

This creates a new library containing the project, with links to all the existing media. The producer sends that library back to the editor, who opens it, then drags the project into the existing library. At which point, the Transfer Library can be deleted.

Sending projects contained in otherwise empty libraries is a fast way to share projects.

– – –

Scenario 3: Two editors on the same network need to share media, but not projects.

Answer: On a network volume, store all media in separate folders, organized however you wish – by client, job, activity, scene… whatever. Each editor can then import the media they need for their project and select “Leave files in place.” This means that the media is linked into the library, not copied.

This is the fastest way to share media – by linking it to the library, not copying it into the library.

NOTE: Media can be stored on any network volume. However, not all networks have the same performance. A simple Gigabit Ethernet network is fine for small groups and single camera editing. However, for teams of editors or multicam editing, you will need to increase the performance of your network significantly. This is where XSAN comes in. XSAN is a high-performance network optimized for media editing.

– – –

Scenario 4: A team of editors all need access to the same media using a variety of applications.

Answer: Store the media on a high-speed network, organized in folders as necessary. Editors not using Final Cut can access the source media stored in those folders. Final Cut editors can create new libraries that point to this media. Editors can share libraries using the Open/Close method I talked about in Scenario 1, or they can transfer projects from one editor to the next using the “Transfer Library” we talked about in Scenario 2.


Final Cut Pro X is designed with collaboration in mind, but it requires thinking differently about how and where to store your media. Libraries reduce the need for cloning drives, instead we simply need to copy files from one drive to the other. And the ability to move projects by containing them within libraries makes sure that all essential data transfers from one editor to another.


Apple provides a good overview of media management. Read it here – especially pages 14 – 18.

The well-respected Alexander Snelling has written a detailed and easily readable analysis of media management, collaboration, backup and archiving. Read it here.

As well, here are three other articles I’ve written that explain the basics of media management in Final Cut Pro X 10.1

FCP X: Manage Libraries

FCP X: Manage Projects

FCP X: Media Management

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81 Responses to FCP X 10.1: Collaboration

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  1. Dale Ryan Leckie says:


    I’m currently running two maxed out iMacs on 10.1.1 and two 2010 Mac Pros loaded with ram, a 12 and an 8 core (upgrading soon to 10.1.1).

    Right now, every edit suite has independent external storage in both thunderbolt and FireWire verities. All footage is filmed and loaded onto a USB drive, and backed up to a second USB drive, about 4TB each. Then everything is imported and stored on either Gtech or promise RAIDS managed by FCPX, about 4-6TB…sometimes as proxies and original or just original media.

    Then and other 4-6TB drive is used as a backup with backups for fcpx…and eventually every project is archived on another drive.

    So, as you can see, we use a lot of hard drive space.

    I’m trying to make the move to central storage for obvious reasons…and here is my plan…

    For now I buy 1 Drobo b800i and max it out at 32TB, single disk protection, 25TB of useable space.
    All footage is archived on the Drobo as we shoot it and only safe graded by drobos single disk protection.
    The Drobo is connected to a Gbit ethernet switch, and each mac is connected to the switch giving all editors central storage and access to all footage.

    In FCPX, we save Liberaries we are currently working on locally? Or on the Drobo?
    All importing from the archived footage is “left in place” rather than copied.
    The old mac pros can transcode id needed.
    The iMacs can run of original media.

    Here are the questions I have so far.

    1. Will the Drobo over ethernet be fast enough? Most larger organizations use ethernet connected storage servers right?

    2. What would my back up routine be? My media and liberaries would be stored in different locations. Would the drobo single disk protection be enough? I plan on having a few spare 4TB drives ready to insert if a disk fails.

    3. Am I correct in thinking that my 4TB of footage would be the majority of space used, if no proxies are created and original media is used, not including the library which would be very small with external media, render files, and other added music, graphics and such? Also assuming that the Drobo single disk protection is the on protection I have.

    4. Is there a better option then the Drobo b800i? We are a small crew with no IT department.

    Thanks for any feedback.


    • Larry Jordan says:


      This is NOT a good idea, nor one that will work successfully. I am a big fan of Drobo, but not for centralized storage that is being accessed by multiple users.

      There are much better options. Look at shared storage from:

      * Small Tree Systems
      * Tiger Technology
      * Edit Share
      * MaxxDigital

      You need a server with HIGH-speed storage attached via Thunderbolt so that the storage is MUCH faster than any connected computer. Drobo attaches at the speed of a single computer and will quickly develop bottlenecks.

      Gigbit Ethernet is fast enough for single-stream ProRes editing live from the Server. If you are doing multicam editing or high-resolution video or uncompressed codecs, you’ll need to copy the files locally to get the speeds you need.

      The “single disk protection” in a RAID means that if one hard drive in the RAID dies, your data is sate. It does NOT mean your data is backed up. You should plan to have one high-speed drive attached to the server for media access, with a second hard drive, which can be much slower, attached to the server for backup. Any Drobo would be a good choice for this second backup device.

      Hope this helps,


      • Dale Ryan Leckie says:

        Hi Larry,

        Thanks for the info.

        I will have a look at those other options.

        If I’m to do a shared storage option, it’s looking like a thunderbolt connection is best?

        Have a good day!

        • Larry Jordan says:


          “Best” is relative. Depending upon your server, it will probably be the cheapest. However, as you’ll discover, other options exist.


          • Dale Ryan Leckie says:

            That’s true.

            Is ethernet an issue in general with shared storage?

            Or does it depend on the server as well?

          • Larry Jordan says:


            Gigabit Ethernet has a top speed of about 105 MB/second. Which is plenty fast for lots of editing.

            The key gating factor, here, is the speed of your switch. Most inexpensive switches can’t support providing full bandwidth to all connected devices. For this reason, a couple of years ago, I upgraded my simple switch to an SMB switch from Cisco. Here, the backplane (the bus that moves data around inside the switch) is fast enough to support every connected computer getting data at full gigabit Ethernet speeds without choking.

            With a fast switch, fast server and fast storage your editors should be able to edit directly off the server without needing to copy data locally – except for high-bandwidth editing like multicam or high resolution images.


          • Dale Ryan Leckie says:


            My research has now led me to ProMax Platform Studio. So far, they seem like the best option. Affordable now but scalable for future growth.

            What have you heard about servers taking the load of of my edit suites…I’m thinking about rendering, transcoding, exporting. I know compressor can share a job across multiple machines using q master. Not sure if fcpx does this, or if it’s an osx thing.

            A huge selling point beyond shared storage would be to bring new life to my older Mac Pros if certain processes are offloaded onto a server.

            Thanks again for you thoughts.


    • Lydia Robertson says:

      I have to second Larry on his position of Drobo not being a good editing solution.

      It looks good on paper but in practice it is slow. Also, in a shared environment it is very dangerous because though you are protected if one drive goes south you are NOT protected if the Drobo itself fails. I am a fan of using Drobo as backup but I have had them fail and had to buy a new old Drobo, of the same year and model, to access my backed-up material. This took over a week and meant we were without our back up during this time. Of course, just then, one of our media drives died and we would have been in a pickle if we hadn’t gone out, spent the cash and bought a new Pegasus Thunderbolt the day before and hooked it up for temporary back up. Now we are backing up to Pegasus RAID 5 instead of Drobo

      • Benji says:

        I’ve been editing off of the Drobo 5D for the past year. I also have Crash Plan which is trickling everything on my Drobo up to the cloud. The Drobo 5D is fine for editing off of however I usually do my main edit with proxies because it is much more “snappy”. Towards the end of the project I’ll do color correction and effects with Optimised Media turned on. This has worked fine for me so far. I had a drive fail a few months ago in the Drobo and was able to hot swap in a fresh one no problem.

  2. Kelly Dove says:

    So what’s the best way to handle this scenario: We are editing a feature length doc – in one office, location A. Every few weeks, we need to edit in a different office, location B. The project has lots of new media by this time, interviews, etc.

    We copy/consolidate the files each time to an external thunderbolt hard drive – but now that we have so much media, it takes hours, as in 12 or more. Much of the media is already on the other computer at location B. Just not the new stuff, which was on various hard drives that we no longer have access to.

    What’s the best way to copy/consolidate just the new files? thanks!

    • Larry Jordan says:


      Clone your drive every night.

      then, when you need to take a drive on the road, you’ve already transferred the media and project files. Simply disconnect the spare drive and take off.


  3. Ken Summerall, Jr. says:

    I have another scenario. 2 people working on a project. Both have identical copies of the Event media on their own machines. One person has logged the b-roll for the project. Can a Transfer library be used to just transfer the keywords and other metadata? Would this be accomplished using the method above?

    • Mark Spencer says:

      Export Event XML.

      • Ken Summerall, Jr. says:


        Do we need to make sure that the library and events are all named the same thing? We have never done the Event XML thing before.

        • LarryJ says:


          Yes, common names will make this work a LOT better.

          Also, you SHOULD be able to select the Event containing the logged media and make a Transfer Library of that Event, which should also transfer all the logging notes.

          Do a test and compare using XML and Transfer Library and let us know what you find. NEITHER of these will damage or change the original Library containing all the notes.


  4. Brad says:

    Hi Larry,

    I am new to FCP so please bare with my ignorance. I have been working and editing with FCP X on an iMac7 using its internal 1tb hard drive. However, after realizing I was going to have storage issues I picked up a 4tb g-tech thunderbolt drive. My concern is this, I have a piece that I’m editing which is now spread out over the iMac internal drive and my external drive and I wish to delete as much as I can from the iMac and get it to the external drive without damaging my project. Any suggestions on how best I could accomplish this? Any help is greatly appreciated.

    • Lydia Robertson says:

      Hi Brad,
      an easy way to handle this is to manually move the Library you are using to the drive you want everything to be on and then consolidate the library – which will copy all media into that library, onto that drive as one large managed library. If you are not sharing your library with another editor this will work very well for you.

  5. […] чтобы ими могли воспользоваться другие монтажеры. Здесь статья, которая рассказывает о совместной работе нескольких […]

  6. Kathy says:

    Just updated to tcp 10.1 and can not get sony z7u m2t files to import-they are greyed out in import window.

  7. Ricardo says:

    Hey everyone,

    Does anyone know how to merge events and avoid equal files to be deleted? I have two events in a collaboration environment. don’t know what has that the other one doesn’t. is there any way to see this automatically?

    thank you!

  8. Josh Usher says:

    Hello Larry & all,

    Thanks for this post. It’s very informative.

    I have a related question. I (producer) have all of the ProRes files from a recent shoot saved on an external hard drive. I shipped a drive with a copy of the same files & folder structure to my editor working in FCPX in a different city. The editor has worked with the files by importing the media into a managed library. Is there a way for the editor to send me the Event / Project that I can then reconnect to the original ProRes files that I have. Thinking in FCP7 terms, it was easy to open a project file and relink to the original media. Is there a similar workflow in FCPX that would avoid my editor having to send the entire library with all managed media?

    Please advise.

    • LarryJ says:


      Yes. Read Scenario 2 above. Create a transfer library to move the project, without moving all the media.


  9. JCC says:

    Hi Larry + team:

    Thanks in advance!

    I am working on a FCP X. The project was synched then handed to me. The library file was MB small. I copied it to transfer drives and now the library is 88 gigs. Obviously I copied it incorrectly somehow (media attached). Now I need to copy it again and email the library to my boss. He wants a small MB file (he has all the orig clips on his computer to link to).

    Q: How do I create a small library file from my big one – small enough to e-mail?

    I tried creating a new library and copying each individual project (Flie – copy to new library) and now the file is 4 gigs. Is there something I can do?


  10. Penny says:

    Hi Larry,

    I can’t thank you enough for all your lessons on the FCPX update. The libraries sound brilliant, apologies if this has already been asked but wanted to check something before I update and progress with technology 🙂
    Currently I am a solo editor but with deadlines etc I will be in need of a second editor. My set up at the moment is to store everything on an external Lacie drive. Am I understanding this correctly, if both myself and the next editor can access the drive we can use the same media and access all the libraries which will have the sequences/projects stored (I realise we can’t have the same library open but it seems a simple option of close the library so the other can open it). I would have a library per sequence/project so that everything was separate and easy to access. Am I thinking correctly, or am I way off the mark?
    Any help would be hugely appreciated.

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