My Remote Video Editing Setup During COVID

As I write this we’re in month number four of working from home. If you aren’t aware, for my 9-5 I’m a full-time video producer and project manager with some editing responsibilities sprinkled in. I’d like to share my simple remote video editing setup that I’ve had to create during the COVID quarantine.

What Kind Of Video Editing Projects I’m Working On

I guess it’s important to understand what kind of videos I’m editing so you can see if it relates to what you’re doing. I’m a corporate video editor. The videos I’m working on are primary updates to training courses that are anywhere from 2-12 years old. Yes, I just revised a video that was last touched in 2008.

In the office the media is kept on Avid Nexis’ predecessor (if you know the name then you know why I don’t write it in this post). The videos are edited in Avid Media Composer version 8.4 which I have in the office on an HP Z400 and also on my aging 8-year-old iMac. These videos are SD (864×486) or HD (1280×720) and delivered digitally through the software my company created.

The office has never been friendly for a remote video editing setup, especially one that was put together last minute for COVID. The Avid project is kept on one workspace. The media for the project is kept on another. And there’s shared footage in 1-3 different workspaces. The imported elements are all kept on our company’s network outside of Avid’s shared storage solution.

How do I recreate this and get access to all the media from home?

Creating My COVID Remote Video Editing Workflow

My Options

To begin I assessed what I had at my fingertips. I frantically threw a handful of projects’ media onto one of my 2TB hard drives. Thankfully I already had one hard drive with the various shared footage workspaces already on it as a backup in case the world ends… I never really thought it would be useful but here we are, friends.

Through a (rather slow) VPN connection I can access the elements stored on my company’s network onto my work laptop. One of my colleagues can remote into his editing bay. This means he can connect to Avid’s shared storage and easily grab Avid projects. Then he can put them onto our network where I can grab them.

Lastly, I do have access to a deep storage hard drive on my company’s network. These are for projects that haven’t been touched in ages.

Creating My Makeshift Shared Storage Solution For Remote Editing During COVID

In case you aren’t aware, Avid Media Composer only sees media on the root level of a hard drive that’s located in either a folder called OMFI MediaFiles or Avid MediaFiles. So if you have one hard drive plugged into your computer you can see one set of media folders. You want to keep your media for different projects separate from each other. This is why shared storage solutions like Avid Nexis and Facilis Terrablock are so useful. You can mount dozens of workspaces (hard drives in our case).

My iMac only has four USB ports, all USB 3.0, and one is taken up by my keyboard. That leaves at most three hard drives I can plug in at once. Thankfully for my setup I’ll only need to use two.

Note: This setup isn’t ideal and is temporary. When life goes back to somewhat normalcy and I’m in the office occasionally I’ll have a less “messy” setup.

The Remote Setup

Let’s call Hard Drive #1 the Panda HD and Hard Drive #2 the Cow HD.

My External Hard Drives for Remote Video Editing Setup During COVID

Panda HD contains three vital things:

  1. All of my different projects’ media (read this post on how to keep the different projects’ media separate on one singular hard drive under the “Media” section)
  2. The Avid Projects
  3. The Imported Elements

Why is this not ideal? As a best practice you want to keep these items separate from each other. If your hard drive fails, well, you’re SOL. But these are desperate times my friends. As a safety net, I am backing up my Avid Projects onto my iMac’s local HD. The media on the hard drive is still on the original shared storage back in the office as well as the imported elements on the network. However any new media or imported elements are left on my hard drive until I one day reconcile the media with the networks back in the office.

Also any of these newly created imported elements are going to have their file path incorrect once everything is reconciled back onto the network. The media will still appear since I’m not AMA’ing them. But if I ever need to re-import them (like because the file needs to be updated) then I’m going to have to track down each file individually. Fun times.

So I’m *okay* with this short-term setup.

Cow HD contains all those shared footage workspaces’ media smushed into one Avid MediaFiles and one OMFI MediaFiles folders. This is a copy of the media so, hypothetically, I can freely jumble all the media together and one day back in the office re-index all the workspaces and Avid will sort everything back out for me how it’s supposed to be. This is my unproven theory. However after eleven years I’m pretty confident reconciling this won’t be too difficult once we’re back in the office.

The Remote Editing Workflow During COVID

As mentioned, my colleague grabs the Avid Projects and puts them onto our network for me to grab and transfer onto Panda HD. I also have him copy over the projects’ media that I need onto the deep storage hard drive I can access remotely through VPN. When I need media for a new project, like right now, before I go to sleep I set up the copy transfer through my work laptop onto an exFAT-formatted hard drive. The exFAT format allows the hard drive to be read by my work laptop, a Dell, and my iMac. I then transfer the media over to Panda HD.

This overnight transfer is hit-or-miss. If my internet lapses then the copy will stop and throw up a window that I need to click “Continue” or something like that for it to keep going. However I’m not checking this at 2:00 AM so it can take a couple nights to get everything over. Anything urgent isn’t urgent anymore.

Our company created a good practice ages ago of exporting a version of all our different Adobe Media Encoder encoding profiles onto our network. AME is awesome in that you can import the profiles into other versions of AME. It doesn’t matter if it’s Mac or PC either.

So I was able to grab the couple of encoding profiles I need and import them into my Adobe Media Encoder on my iMac. When the encodes are completed I upload them to Dropbox for my developer. His VPN connection is apparently better than mine. It takes me ages to copy the final exports over to our network. He can do it in much less time.

The setup isn’t ideal. It takes some time to get everything setup. But once I have my media then I’m editing just like it was any other day over the past decade, minus the 1-year-old playing behind me while I work.

The reconciliation process is going to be a b****. I know that. That’s okay. When I need to tackle that problem it means that the larger problem in the world has subsided and I’m a-okay with that.

What’s your remote video editing setup during COVID? Care to share? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, I’d love to keep in touch. All you have to do is go here to stay in the loop on new blog posts, tutorials, and announcements.

– Josh

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