(Photos courtesy of Fiona Strain ASE.)
On 2nd May at Andy Kristiaman’s facility in Pyrmont’s Wework building, we held the first of this year’s combined AVPUG/ASE workshops to explore the shared storage scenario on Adobe Premiere Pro. Jon Barrie and Maude Rokvic were in the driver’s seat to explain to the 20+ attendees how Premiere Pro leverages shared storage, using “Shared Projects”. Luke Simpson and Simon Chisholm from Videocraft were manning the Avid Nexis to ensure we were all communicating.
Sam and Luke came with what seemed like kilometres of blue cables. They gave all participants with a laptop a link to the client manager for the Nexis Pro 40TB and Avid supported Dell N2024 managed switch. This equipment was provided by Videocraft for the evening to enable our “hands on”. Simon told me my desktop gave him anxiety as he guided me through the set-up (it is not the neatest…).
Jon described Shared Projects as a “strip mining” process, where you have the editing Assistant in charge of a master project, containing all of the material relevant to the production, and others can dive in and take material from it without the ability to destroy it! The Assistant is ideally the super well-organised sort – like Maude - who has a system: tidy bins all in order, categorised to suit the production’s particular needs.
The Shared Project workflow allows the Assistant to lock and manage the master project, with the Editors having their own individual projects which initially will be set up with the assets the Assistant is managing. The Editors and Assistant are all accessing the same media on the central storage, but each are using their own project, which is locked to other users.
When the Editors are on board, they will be customising their project to suit their needs. While the master project is locked, any of the Editors can still access the master project as required to grab bins or sequences or shots, without being able to change the project itself or having to go through the slow process of importing.
Similarly, Editors can unlock their projects (while leaving it still open) to allow Assistants to take ownership and make changes to the Editors’ project, adding sequences or other assets for example.
If a project gets bloated with too many sequences, it can become slow and difficult to manage, so the Assistant may set up a master project with just the shot footage. They then would set up separate shared projects for the Editors’ sequences that they need to manage: archive, sound effects or graphics, etc. Similarly, Editors could also archive old sequences to a separate project in order to reduce the file size of their projects, knowing it is a quick process to access those sequences, or even copy an “in to out” section of a sequence if they need to go back to a previous version. As Jon explained, “You break down and divide and conquer the mega source”. Remembering, that all of the projects link to the same media files.
Jon ran us through the process of setting up shared projects, by: file>new>shared project, showing how you need to first set up your project for collaboration (in preferences) - set the users' names and allow the projects to be locked - go to the collaboration preference and under project locking, tick: “Enable project locking”, enter a username, hit OK then restart the project.
Once you do this, Premiere automatically manages projects in the one collaboration folder with a .prlock file that associates the username as the owner of the particular project they have opened. You can also import projects and associate them as a shared project within that group. Things like auto save operate as with normal projects where you manage where those saves go to.
Just before our heads started imploding, pizzas arrived courtesy of Jon so we settled in for a bite and some chat, with beer and cider generously provided by the venue.
(Jon Barrie and Maude Rokvic.)
Jon then guided us through the hands on session - setting up, locking, unlocking and sharing items from each other’s projects.
During the evening there was some almighty wrangling by Luke and Simon as everyone who came with a laptop seemed to have a different configuration of computer and Premiere Pro version. Two teams were set up, one for Premiere 2018, one for 2019, with a “boss” or project manager for each. Jon declared, "We are first going to work in teams, then you can go ahead and start breaking things. When they stop making sense, put your hand up we'll have a conversation and try and work out what happened," which became the motto for the evening.
Jon set up the shared projects for the individuals. I accidentally created a “Team Project” which we learnt later is not the same as a shared project, but another collaborative project type managed in the cloud, a deeper dive for another time…so had to be hauled out of that.
Jon explained that when making a shared project from a master project you will be presented with a folder “with a swooshy arrowhead” that links you to the associated shared project. The projects are collaborative, so you set the rules for how the projects are set up with your team, however it is the Assistant, who is managing the master project, who is in charge of importing files and managing the folders.
We learned that ownership of a project is based on who opens it first. If you are first to open the project, you will have a green padlock in the bottom left hand corner of the project, showing it is open for you. Anyone else opening your project will get a red padlock meaning they can copy from there, but not add or make changes.
There was some lively discussion about the issue of anyone who gets in first opening and messing with a master project, and Maude suggested that the assistant could just leave their project permanently open and Jon suggested you could also make a copy of the .prlock file, hide it, then paste it back next to the master file just before you open up again. Others suggested there were IT ways of managing permissions which could resolve the issue. But essentially you need to trust your team, and leave the master project to the Assistant!
We tried opening our own project, as well as the Assistant’s master project, noting there were two locked indicators on the Assistant’s master project - the red one at the bottom, and a white one up next to the project name. When a change was made by the Assistant in the locked master project, a yellow exclamation triangle appeared. At this point to see those changes, we simply refreshed our project to see the update in the master project.
Along the way we refreshed our knowledge about things like the asterisk, (showing whether a project is saved or not), were reminded that it is best to import from the media browser to ensure metadata is kept intact, learnt that in a shared project environment, you don’t need to open and close projects to get updates, so everyone can keep working efficiently throughout the day.
We “mindhived”, problem-solved and did trouble-shooting together. One of the participants even created a new term for the way things work by renaming the master project a “Funnel Project” - trademarked by Matt on the night!
One thing we established was that this system is designed for locally connected central storage, not for cloud-based systems where people need to work remotely. Team projects are the way to go for that, but do not provide the security that shared projects do. Maude also explained that team projects can easily suffer from becoming too big and slowing down, because with team projects all participants are accessing the one project.
It was a fantastic night, with a lot of good humour flowing around the room. There were many questions and some confusion, but with the hands-on set-up, our roving team from Videocraft ensuring that our gypsy caravan of laptops were communicating as well as they could, Jon giving us the process and Maude the benefit of her on-the-ground experience, not to mention the collective knowledge of 20+ Editors in the room, we learnt a heap.
Thank you Jon and Adobe for suggesting the session, Videocraft, Luke and Sam for the equipment and tech support, Andy for the venue, Maude for your input, and participants for helping broaden the experience.
Fiona Strain ASE
President, Australian Screen Editors