FCP X: Sharing Projects

As I was researching my new Final Cut Pro X book, I discovered this interesting technique that I wanted to share with you.

Many times, editors need to share projects. While Final Cut Pro X does not allow more than one editor to be working in the same project at the same time, there is a way to share the same project between editors. Event References make this possible.

An Event reference is the ability to take a Project and point it to media in a different Event. What you are doing is changing the media that is connected to a Project by changing the Event reference.

A Final Cut Pro X project doesn’t contain media, it just “points” to media, which is stored in your Final Cut Events folder. This media can be stored locally, or on an XSAN server – though not, however, on a standard-issue OS X Server. We can take advantage of this fact when it comes to sharing projects between editors.

For example, let’s say two editors, in two different cities, want to both work on the same project, though not at the same time. To start, the first editor makes a complete copy of both the Project folder (stored in the Final Cut Projects folder) and the Event folder (stored in the Final Cut Events folder).

The first editor sends the second editor both folders, and the second editor starts editing. During this time, the first editor can not be working in the Project. The original Event folder, containing the media, and the Project remain with the first editor, while a copy of the Event folder and Project folder are now also with the second editor. (For those that worry, there is no reduction in image quality when you copy digital image files.)

The second editor can make changes to both the Project and the Event, such as, say, editing clips, adding keywords, changing clip names in the Event Browser, and flagging clips as Favorites using ratings. However, the second editor can not change the media itself, nor add new media.

Then, the second editor sends just the Project folder back to the first editor. (Important note, he needs to send the entire Project folder, not just a single Project file contained inside it.)

If the first editor opens the Project sent by the second editor, all the clips would be offline, because the Project is still linked to the Event folder on the second editor’s system in another city. Instead, the first editor copies the Project folder to her local system in the Final Cut Projects folder. Opening Final Cut Pro X, she selects the Project in the Project Library, without opening it in the Timeline.

With the Project selected, the editor chooses File > Project Properties (or presses Command+J).

Click the wrench icon (just above the Inspector button) to display the Project Properties window.

Click the Modify Event Reference button, which opens the Modify Event Reference window.

Navigate to the Event folder stored locally on her system and select it. The first editor’s Project now connects to this local media, rather than the media on the second editor’s system.

By changing Event References, both editors can send this Project back and forth for additional work. Keep in mind that once the Project is sent to one editor, the other editor can not work on the Project as there is no way to reconcile the differences between two versions of the same Project.

Both the first and second editor have their copy of the Event folder and media stored locally. Changing Event References allows repointing a Project from one Event folder to another.

This is a very intriguing use of the media management in FCP X because it easily allows changing the Event that is referenced by a Project. It isn’t the same as relinking individual clips, but allows an editor to repoint to all the media in an entire project.


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  1. Tangier Clarke says:

    Thanks for the article Larry. Some things that weren’t clear – are keywords, flagging, etc stored with the project or with the event?
    The article infers that it’s stored with the project and would move with the project folder. If that weren’t the case, then the first editor would never see the meta information when getting the project back from the second editor.

    Just want to be sure.

  2. Larry Jordan says:

    Ratings and keywords are stored in the Event database. Metadata elements are placed in the media file during import. However, metadata that is added after import, or custom metadata fields, are not stored in the media file but in the Event database.

    Larry

  3. Tangier Clarke says:

    OK, that’s what I thought. So the 1st editor would never get to see any modifications such as keywords, flagging, etc. when sending the project back. Those are exclusive to each editor which is unfortunate; that is unless they move the event folder as well between each other.

  4. RIch says:

    That pretty much tells me we cant use final cut X in our studio…we pass projects all the time with final cut 7and its very easy…in x its just a big workaround …not worth the hassle…unless you have an xsan…another way for apple to sell you something

    • Pravin says:

      Yes i secont that. We share projects in our studios all the time with a simple XML. FCPX seems have it complicated..

  5. Dustin Hoye says:

    YES you can share keyword collections, metadata, etc. in FCP X. Just duplicate the event to your traveling drive from inside FCP X. Or , I have copied events in Finder and still can see keyword collections, etc. when viewing on a separate second drive.. you just can’t have those events open at the same time as the originals, or FCP X will see them as competing and throw an error on startup. Benefit to using FCPX dup method is having access to both events simultaneously (but is a slower process), benefit to Finder method is speed and the knowledge nothing can touch those backups, so long as they are outside of the root drive folder.

    • Balthazar says:

      So, does this event folder also contain all the media files relating to the event? If so, if two editors want to share a project, and do not want to send all the media files back and forth every time, is it possible to only send a database file or something with the keywords and metadata, while the raw media is stored locally on each machine? Is there something like an “event file” in that event folder? Or would that be cumbersome? Do you understand what I mean?

      • Larry Jordan says:

        Balthazar:

        Yes, the Event folder contains all their media, but not render files, which are stored in the Project folder.

        What both editors would need is a copy of the Event folder containing their media. Assuming they don’t import new media, this folder only needs to be copied once.

        Then, they only need to share the project folder. Once an editor gets an updated project, they reconnect to it as this article relates.

        Larry

        • Balthazar says:

          Thanks. I see. But if one editor makes changes to the keywords, flagging etc that is stored in the event database, and then sends the project back to the other editor, the other editor will not see the changes, right?

          • Larry Jordan says:

            My understanding is that modified keywords, and custom keywords are stored in the project folder, not the Event folder. The Event folder contains keywords that are added during import.

            Larry

          • Curry says:

            Wow, that’s so messy keeping some keyword data in Events and some in Projects. Sharing and collaboration features are DESPERATELY Needed in FCPX.

            If the event and media is in two locations but changes are made to the event in one place that need to be shared, would passing the “CurrentVersion.fcpevent” file back and forth and replacing it in the event folder work? What about passing things like the “Analysis” folder to another user with the same event. Would that link automatically?

            Something tells me that the FCPX foundation is just not built for sharing which scares me because I jumped in with both feet a couple months ago.

            Let’s hope they come up with something genius and seamless that makes it all easy again…

  6. Luke says:

    Hi Larry

    Does it work the other way?

    I have a clip in the event that i’ve used several times in a project (its an interview)

    I’ve then added 2 audio channels to this clip in the event browser.

    How can I get its instances in the project to update with these extra audio channels automatically ?

    Luke

  7. Gs3 says:

    Hi Larry,

    Great topic…trying to figure out a share system with FCPX (as we really like it).

    Is it possible to have all ingested media on a central SAN in an office, so that multiple editors just share Project folders that link to that one Event folder on the SAN?

    For example, maybe we have a dedicated ingest station that creates the initial Event folder on the shared network drive (SAN, XSAN, whatever). Maybe that ingest station doesn’t even create a Project timeline yet.

    Then the first editor starts a new project on his/her local working drive, importing all the media (by reference only) from the SAN Event folder). That way it doesn’t copy all the media down to his/her local drive.

    Then when he/she is done, they copy the Project folder up onto the SAN drive, where the 2nd editor pulls that Project folder down to their local drive. When they open it up, it should still link to the shared SAN drive, correct? Even if it doesn’t, then they can update the reference using the wrench tool as you describe above.

    Would this system work?

    If so, could Editor 1 still import (by reference only) and edit some of the same media in that SAN Event folder while Editor 2 was editing a separate project? (For example, if some of the footage is ‘generic’ that can be used in multiple projects, can 2 editors reference and use that same clip off the SAN Event folder since they’re working on separate Project timelines?

    Thanks for your input…would love to find a way to do this!

    Gene.

    • Larry Jordan says:

      Gene:

      If you are running an XSAN network, your editors won’t even need to copy down the Project folder, they can access both Event and Project files from the SAN. However, only one editor can write to a file at the same time.

      Your system should work as you described, especially if you are copying project files, which is where most of the read/write behavior occurs during editing. As with all things, test to be sure your network has the bandwidth to support media playback to multiple editors – multicam, for instance, can bring a network to its knees – however, your basic approach seems sound.

      Larry

      • andre buurma says:

        Interesting!
        A question, to both Larry and Gene;
        Do you need Fibre Optics for a system like that, or is XSAN via ethernet enough to do editing without ‘big compositing’?

        Cheers,

        André Buurma

        Gene:

        If you are running an XSAN network, your editors won’t even need to copy down the Project folder, they can access both Event and Project files from the SAN. However, only one editor can write to a file at the same time.

        Your system should work as you described, especially if you are copying project files, which is where most of the read/write behavior occurs during editing. As with all things, test to be sure your network has the bandwidth to support media playback to multiple editors – multicam, for instance, can bring a network to its knees – however, your basic approach seems sound.

        • Larry Jordan says:

          André:

          its all a question of bandwidth. If you are not doing multicam, Gigabit Ethernet should be ok for simple edits – meaning one to three streams playing at a time.

          the more streams of video you add, the faster the connection to your hard disk needs to be.

          Ethernet won’t work well for multicam.

          Larry

          • Huston Crawford says:

            I know this is an older thread, but I am looking for some clarification with something you said Mr. Jordan.

            When you say that multi cam will not work over ethernet, but 1 – 3 streams are fine; if I have a three camera setup, can I use a MacMini as storage/import and edit via ethernet on a MBP using multi cam? All 1080 footage from MkII’s and a MKIII.

            Thanks for the help.

      • Oof says:

        What Andre is trying to find out here, together with me is following:

        Can fcp-x use a shared network location, without using XSAN, we have a windows-based Storage server on a link-agregated 2GB ethernet connection, so far the workstations will not use any XSAN protocol unless hosted by the OsX server and the OsX server will not continue the XSAN setup unless it physically finds a Fibre optics card. This is where we get stuck. In short, can our edit-stations, running fcp-x use the same data on a non-OsX shared network storage?

        Tnx in advance.

        Oof

        • Larry Jordan says:

          Oof and Andre:

          I’m not totally sure. The general rule is that if you can mount the server on your desktop FCP X should see it.

          If fCP X can see it, then you can import media from it and use it for editing.

          Remember, you can have multiple editors playing the same media with no problems, but you can not have more than one editor in the same project at the same time.

          Larry

          • Oof says:

            Larry, thank you for your lightning fast reply 🙂

            We can mount the network storage server on our desktop, but so far we were not able to have fcp-x see that and use that, but that could simply be a shortcomming of our fcp-x knowledge.
            We will try to dig a little further into where to put these settings and will let you know about our findings.

            As for your other comment, yes we did realize that we can use the same project, although not at the same time 😉

            Thanks, on behalf of Andre and me!

  8. Matthew says:

    Very helpful. What if the 2nd editor (in another city) doesn’t need the Optimized media, they’re just doing a rough cut and can use the Proxy media. And when the 2nd editor sends back the Project folder, is there a way to avoid sending the render folder as well, that seems like it could take a long time.
    Thanks.

    • Larry Jordan says:

      Matthew:

      The Events folders need to be identical and, generally, are best done by cloning two hard drives. you’ll have problems dealing with switching between optimized and proxy media.

      Make life simple for yourself, duplicate the project and media to two hard drives and just share the database.

      larry

      • Matthew says:

        Thanks Larry for getting back to me. What I’m trying to do is setup a company that allows for editors across the country to utilize the same footage to edit with (I’m sure they’ll have to download it from our server to work with it locally – not a problem there), but do I need to upload the optimized media if they’re never going to be using it? All full rez work would be done at the site it was uploaded from.
        Since we will never be in the same room, is there a way to not share all the render files, or just upload the ones used in the final sequence?

        • Larry Jordan says:

          As long as they all have the same media – whether optimized or native – on their system, they only need to move project files around. Not media, not proxies, not render files.

          larry

          • Matthew says:

            That’s what I originally thought, so I tried that, (just moving the ‘CurrentVersion.fcpproject’ file, but it would not connect with the original media. On the system I was moving it to, I created a new folder in the Final Cut Projects folder that had the same name as the original sequence, but it didn’t work. Is there another way that I should be doing it that I’m maybe missing? There’s no importing of sequences, so what seemed logical was just creating a folder like I said and moving the project file into it.

          • Larry Jordan says:

            Matthew:

            Remember, you need to duplicate BOTH the project and the media on both systems so that FCP creates the project folder on both systems. At which point, replacing the project folder will work.

            You are NOT able to add media to one system and have the second system find that media.

            Larry

    • Ross Campbell says:

      I’ve just discovered something that could be helpful – when you duplicate a project and don’t include the render files it gives you a project folder with just the currentversion.fcpproject file and the shared items folder – 1.5MB worth in total in my case (the render folder was 2.3GB). When you open that project it just needs to render the whole project which automatically recreates your Backups and Render Files folders in the Project folder. That means, as long as both parties have the same events folder, you should be good to go bouncing just those and not the whole render folder as well. This is also good news for storing edits you no longer want in your project library. Just create a Final Cut Projects Disabled folder and move those projects (when FCPX is closed) you no longer want to appear in your library and delete the render folder (if you want to save on space that is) – if you want to reactivate it, just drag it back into your Final Cut Projects folder and when you open the program it’ll be back.

  9. Mike says:

    I’m a little confused about what to do here. I’m a noob trying to figure this out.

    I have a huge project I’m working on (over 1 tb) with lots of events and projects. I created duplicate files using fcpx duplicate project and events (i need everything backed up). So i had a back-up of everything. Now, i had to make some changes to the original files (located on hard drive 1), but haven’t done anything to the back-up on external hard drive 2.

    Will final cut X update the references to the original HD on the 2nd HD, or do i need to duplicate all of the projects and events again (which would require deleting the old back-ups and creating “new” back-ups).

    I’m really confused. It’s like taking from one computer to another, but I’m still not sure how all that is done.

    • Larry Jordan says:

      Mike:

      To the best of my knowledge, there is no incremental backup facility in FCP X. For that, you’d need to use a third-party utility like SuperDuper.

      Larry

      • Mike says:

        maybe i wasn’t good at explaining. In my case, I’m kind of like the scenario above, switching between computers. The first computer has everything on it, and the external (traveling) goes between it and my laptop, and the external has a duplicate copy of the projects. Then i made a few changes to the projects on the main computer, so now the back-up projects are different, but the events are still the same.

        Do i need to just erase the back-up (external traveling drive) events/projects (database), and now re-duplicate all the events and projects?

        Or does final cut (with the referenced event you talk about above) allow me to just cite the references to the external by simply making a new copy of just the project files?

        • Larry Jordan says:

          Mike:

          If your media and Events remain the same, you only need to transfer the Project file – as described above – between the two computers.

          However, if you are sharing the same external hard drive between the two computers – one for “home” and the other for the “road,” you don’t need to do anything. FCP will recognize all the files on the external disk when it starts up.

          Larry

  10. LGWishart says:

    I am new to final cut pro X. Just to confirm if one editor sends the files to the other. The second editor does colour correction on clips, and cleans up the audio on the entire project. If the second editor resends the cleaned up files to the first. Will all the work be apparent after it is all reconnected on the first editors system. Thanks for your help!!! Lonnie

    • Larry Jordan says:

      As long as both editors have the same media, copying the Project folder will keep all project settings, you will only need to relink the media.

      The BEST thing to do is to test this well before your deadline to make sure it works OK.

      Larry

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