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Collaborative video editing: How to collaborate effectively on video projects

With huge file sizes, specialist editing software requirements, and a multitude of factors to review, collaborating on video projects can be a logistical nightmare. But it doesn’t need to be. In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about collaborative video editing, and the tools that make it easier than ever.

Creative professionals collaborating on a video editing project

Imagine that you’ve been placed in a room with Wes Anderson, Tim Burton, and Quentin Tarantino—three world-renowned directors, know for their unique visual styles. The four of you are each asked to individually create a 10 second clip of a person crossing the street.

How similar would you expect the final four edits to be?

While this example may be a little oversimplified, the point behind it rings true—creativity is inherently subjective. We are all uniquely brilliant, with our own tastes and talents, and limiting yourself to just one perspective could be holding your creative potential back.

That’s why getting a fresh pair of eyes—or an extra pair of hands—on a video project can make a world of difference to the final result.

But with huge file sizes, specialist editing software requirements, and a multitude of factors to review—how can you collaborate effectively with others on video projects?

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about effective video collaboration and showcase some purpose-built tools from Dropbox that make it easy to get to that final edit faster.

What is collaborative video editing?

Collaborative video editing is a process in which a group of people work with footage in specialist editing software, to produce a final piece of video. It’s a traditionally complex process that requires a lot of manual uploading, downloading, and version management of files.

Thanks to advancements in cloud-based systems, many of those steps are a lot easier than they used to be, making it possible for teams spread across countries and time zones to collaborate on projects remotely.

Benefits of cloud-based video collaboration

There are a number of benefits to working with video over cloud-based systems. To start with, it allows you to

  • Get a second opinion—collaborative video review makes it easy to gather and act on feedback
  • Speed up production—by efficiently spreading the work, and gathering the review process all in one place, you can get to that ‘final_final’ edit faster than ever before
  • Manage smoothly—using one platform to handle the entire process removes the need to keep track of multiple versions, or handle frequent large file transfers

How the Dropbox suite of tools makes video collaboration easy

It’s no secret that editing projects often rely on a fragmented workflow. Countless versions of files are separately worked on and then shared via file transfer, with endless isolated email chains of feedback from peers to make sense of.

Wouldn’t it be nice if your team could centrally store and access project files, simultaneously work on them, and review them with a wider group? How about if it was all in one place too?

Dropbox Replay—in combination with Dropbox cloud storage and other workflow tools—provides a complete video collaboration solution that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

Demonstration of the Draw tool in Dropbox Replay, being used to provide video feedback.

Here’s what makes Dropbox so powerful as a video collaboration platform:

Get everyone on the same page

Dropbox cloud storage means you’re all working from a single set of files—no more version management with initials and dates at the end of the file names!

Work with your favorite tools

With Dropbox app integrations and online-only files (formerly Dropbox Sync), you can work on files locally within your preferred video editing software, then save directly to your team’s Dropbox cloud storage.

Gather feedback all in one place

Create a virtual viewing room in Dropbox Replay, and have the whole team watch your edits together, in real time. When you’re ready to gather feedback, simply share a link to start receiving frame-accurate annotated feedback and on-screen markups. It all works in the browser, so there’s no need for reviewers to request special access or download any software. In fact, they don’t even need a Dropbox account.

Take quick, decisive action on feedback

Send revised versions out for review and respond to comments directly from editors including Adobe Premiere Pro, Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve, LumaFusion and WeVideo.

How to collaborate on videos with Dropbox

Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, it’s time to cover a typical video collaboration workflow. In this section, we’ll take you through the typical steps for video production, and explain how you can use the Dropbox suite of tools to maximize your potential at each stage.

Step 1: Decide on your video idea and plan a storyboard

Before you start gathering raw footage, it’s important to know what you’re going to need to shoot and to have a rough idea of what the final edit is going to look like.

Storyboards are an excellent way to plan out a video, which can then be handed over to the production team along with a clear shot list.

A storyboard is essentially a series of sketches, with annotations and short descriptions, used to visualize the key beats of the video being planned. They help directors and production teams to see the final product more clearly in their minds, taking the guesswork out of the shoot.

If you’re using Dropbox Paper to create your storyboard, you can invite friends, collaborators, and clients to review your plan—to which they can then add their feedback, directly to the images.

A creative director works on a video storyboard using their tablet

Step 2: Gather your raw footage

Whether you’re actively running a shoot yourself, handing over to a film team, or curating a bank of stock footage and existing assets—you’ll need your block of marble to start chiseling down.

Once you have your files, uploading them to Dropbox cloud storage makes it easy to access them from anywhere. Whether that means getting immediate access to files from an overseas shoot that’s just wrapped up, or transferring to your laptop at the end of the shoot and then having instant access to the files at your editing station the next day—cloud storage provides a flexible solution, whatever your needs.

A film crew captures raw footage on a video shoot

Step 3: Create your first edit

Creating your first video edit means bringing your key players together and enabling everyone to do what they do best.

Dropbox makes it easy for you to delegate work to collaborators. For example, if you are the creative director for the video but it requires some specialist motion graphics, you can seamlessly hand over the file to your animator by providing access through cloud storage.

Thanks to built-in Dropbox app integrations within the likes of Adobe Creative Cloud and LumaFusion, they can then work on the file and save back to cloud storage, giving you complete control and access throughout.

A team of video producers collaborate on their first edit of a film

Step 4: Gather feedback

The review stage is where many video projects stumble, locked in an endless cycle of disjointed feedback loops that have your team needlessly jumping back and forth to make sense of it all.

This is where Dropbox Replay shines—video review has never been so straightforward.

With this purpose-built video review solution, here are a few of the features you'll benefit from:

  • Sharing via a link—Dropbox Replay is browser-based, meaning no additional software, Dropbox accounts, or special access is required for your reviewers
  • Virtual viewing room—make a splash by watching the video together as a group and providing real-time feedback through discussion
  • Frame-accurate annotations—take the guesswork out of understanding feedback, with frame-accurate and pixel-specific notes from reviewers
  • Gather it all in one place—the days of multiple emails from reviewers in silos are over, now you can keep all of your feedback on a single file version, which means your reviewers can read, agree with, and discuss feedback that has been left by others
Frame-specific annotations in Dropbox Replay make video collaboration easy

Step 5: Finalize and share the finished product

Once you’ve gathered your feedback, it’s simply a case of quickly implementing edits and responding to comments directly, to let reviewers know that a version has been updated.

Version control in Dropbox Replay is easy, with version tagging and status tags that help keep everything in one place
When you’re just about finished and it’s time to share a copy the final export, this is made easy with Dropbox Transfer. Send up to 100 GB of files quickly and effortlessly via a link, with options to add custom branding to your download page, and complete control over access permissions, passwords, and any other additional layers of security you need.
Dropbox Transfer makes it easy to transfer large files, with complete control over access privileges

Start collaborating on video projects today, with Dropbox Replay

Dropbox brings everything you need to elevate your video collaboration process, without sacrificing your favorite tools and editing apps.

Get to the final_final edit faster.

Try Dropbox Replay today