May 1, 2020
Article by neffdev_admin

Video Editing Remotely: 3 Methods to Improve Your Workflow

What is the best option for video editing remotely?

Remotely video editing large projects may seem like a tough nut to crack but it is possible. With many video editors working from home, the need for speedy and stable access to large volumes of files is immense. For a single project, you could easily be looking at hundreds of gigabytes of data to a few terabytes. Alas, there are solutions out there and we have employed many of these methods at Neff

External Storage Drive
External storage units are great for video editing remotely.

1. Video Editing using Physical Media

Most video editors will be familiar with using physical media. This includes external hard drives, solid-state drives, and RAIDs to name a few. Simply connect the device to your computer and copy the files that you will need for your project. Depending on the type of workstation you will be using, some formats or implementations of physical media may work better than others.

Solid State Drives (SSD)

Solid-state drives have no moving parts. This makes them faster than a traditional mechanical hard drive that relies on a spinning disk. They also come in smaller form factors than their mechanical counterparts. Look for SSDs with USB-C and/or Thunderbolt 3 connectivity if you have a computer that supports these connectors. These standards allow for the highest read & write speeds when editing video. Moreover, this will allow you to work directly off of the drive itself instead of dragging files back and forth. If you are needing to edit remotely with speed and ease, look no further than a solid-state drive.

Mechanical Hard Drives (HDD)

Mechanical hard drives are still competitive in this day and age if you value more storage capacity over read & write speeds. External HDDs are perfect if you are not working directly off the drive but rather only transferring the data you need (or using it as a backup device). You will be able to find higher storage capacity HDDs for less than solid-state drives. Therefore, if you are looking for a long term storage option or cheaper storage, HDDs are the most cost-effective option.

RAID (Redundant array of independent disks)

A redundant array of independent disks (or RAID) treats multiple hard drives as one single drive unit. It also allows for a plethora of redundancy options with RAID 0 & RAID 5 being the most popular for video editing. What is the difference between the two you may ask?

RAID 0 will provide the fastest read and write speeds of any RAID configuration. This works by dividing data evenly between all drives. But there is one main downside. As a result of the data getting split between all of the drives, a single hard drive failure can mean you to lose everything. It is recommended to never leave source material on a RAID 0 drive without it being backed up first.

RAID 5 provides the best of both worlds in terms of speed and redundancy. With this configuration, one hard drive can fail and you will still be able to access all of your data. When it comes to RAIDs, they are not a replacement for a backup plan. Always backup your data even if you have it on a RAID.

Drive Formats

Overall it is important to recognize what format your drive is using. You will not be able to access a drive formatted for a Mac (HFS+) if you will be editing from a windows (NTFS) work station. One way around this is by using ExFAT which will allow cross platform access but there are limitations. ExFAT may introduce slower transfer speeds and reliability may be questionable due to the lack of journaling. There are also paid options out there that will help you access drives across operating systems.

File Transfer
There are many options out there for securely transferring your footage & projects for video editing remotely.

2. Video Editing using File Sync / File Transfer over Internet

From the convenience of your remote working space, it is possible to transfer the footage/files you need to complete your project over the internet. This can be done through a mixture of software and hardware solutions.

Software

Dropbox and Google Drive are great services for file storage, syncing files across multiple devices, and using the cloud as a backup for your projects. Down the road, you may need to pay for more storage which comes at a monthly price (especially if you are video editing in 4K resolutions with higher bit-rates). 

Resilio Sync and Syncthing are more challenging to initially set up but also more rewarding. The difference between this implementation and Google Drive/Dropbox is that these applications utilize peer-to-peer file synchronization. By using this method, it gives users more control over the privacy aspects of their data (not hosted in a third party cloud). Also, peer-to-peer (P2P) syncing allows senders and receivers to verify the security of their connection and any data they exchange. As a result, this can lead to faster downloads as there is no ‘middleman’ or client-server. Resilio Sync requires a subscription while Syncthing is free and open source.

Hardware

Network-attached storage (NAS) devices are excellent solutions for creating a centralized location for your files. Most network-attached storage solutions come prepackaged with easy to set up remote access software. The most common NAS brands such as Synology and Qnap provide free personal cloud access. This allows users to reach their files online in a pinch. Above all, it is critical to remember that your NAS’s internet stability and speed will dictate how you will be able to access your data (when using the personal cloud option).

Remote Video Editing
Video editing on another workstation in real-time.

3. Video Editing through Remote Desktop

Teamviewer

Teamviewer is a cross-platform remote desktop application that allows you to have full mouse and keyboard control on a remote computer. This is great if you need to transfer files or access video projects at a limited level. Furthermore, this software suffers from a noticeable delay and image quality. You may run into issues if you try to video edit directly off of your remote workstation.

Parsec

Parsec, originally software built for personal cloud gaming, has an extremely low latency footprint and can stream UHD resolutions up to 60 frames per second which is a boon for video editing. Not to mention the color accuracy of the image is very passable and is perfectly capable for general editing purposes. Additionally, this type of implementation allows you to harness the horsepower of your workstation to the fullest. You can access and edit from your main workstation on any device of your choice without compromise.

Our Conclusions

There is no correct answer when it comes to finding the right remote video editing solution that works for you. No matter what, there will be trade-offs for each method. It all comes down to a matter of preference, convenience, and practicality. Depending on the footage or source material you are working with, one solution may work better than another.

1. Video Editing using Physical Media

  • Positives
    • Quick and easy to set up & transfer files.
  • Negatives
    • The more storage required, the more drives. Little to no collaboration capabilities. Potentially requires travel to ingest/backup footage depending on your situation.

2. Video Editing using File Sync / File Transfer over Internet

  • Positives
    • Access to files anytime, anywhere. Options to set up automatic file syncing and backups. Allows for easier collaboration.
  • Negatives
    • May need subscription for cloud services. Not the easiest to set up. Heavy dependence on internet connections/speed.

3. Video Editing through Remote Desktop

  • Positives
    • Access to your physical computer and files, anywhere. Low latency implementations can allow for remote video editing. Will run on most computers/devices. Allows for easier collaboration.
  • Negatives
    • Heavy dependence on stable internet connection/speed.