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How to Collaborate on Creative Projects over the Internet

Let’s face it, it’s 2011 and at some point you will be doing a project with someone that lives far away from you. That’s just the way it is... But it doesn’t have to be scary. Before I bombard you with website information, let’s break down the basics that you need to know before you share a project with someone across the internet. 

Hackers Probably Don’t Care About What You’re Sharing

Many people have this idea that as soon as you put something up on the internet, it’s going to be stolen, hacked and redistributed to a giant pirate website. In most cases, this is actually far from the truth. Unless you’re putting up a major video game to share with someone else, or a script for the next Batman movie, even the hackers won’t care. Quit worrying!

Include All the Necessary Information

If you’re sending an audio project, remember to label your tracks. If you’re sharing a Photoshop project, remember to label your layers, brush presets, etc. so that your co-collaborator knows exactly what’s what. Nothing is more irritating than getting work from someone and not being able to proceed because you’re completely confused!

Make Things Self-Explanatory

Before you send anything to your cyber-collaborator, make sure you make your work easy for them to understand. For example: if you’re sharing a musical project in Logic Pro with someone, and you send them your actual Logic Project file with all of the audio, make sure you label your tracks with names that are well, "Logic-al". If you have one track with just the kick drum, label it ‘Kick Drum’. If you have one synth that acts as your lead synth within the song, label it ‘Lead Synth’. Some people have the idea that labeling a track ‘Kick Ass Synth’ is somehow helpful to a co-collaborator. But, ‘Kick Ass Synth’ doesn’t explain the intention of the track, which leads to a phone call asking, “Where do you see Kick Ass Synth fitting in to the mix... ?” Blah, blah, blah... Keep things self-explanatory to avoid needless conversations.

Additional Instructions

If you have certain notes to share with your collaborator, make sure to include all notes in either a text, or spreadsheet file. Personally, I like spreadsheets because you can make certain requests to your collaborator, then leave a comment spot for your collaborator to respond with notes of their own. Additionally, within those notes, make sure to leave Skype, AIM, or phone numbers in case your collaborator needs some real time instruction.

Ways to Share your Files

Finally, let’s talk about how to share your files. Here are some great services that make this a snap:

  • MegaFileUpload.com: upload big files with ease for free (up to 350 MB), or pay them a little cash and upload up to a gigabyte. The only thing with this site is that it does have some pop-ups! You can set up an account that you and your collaborator can upload to, etc. If you do this, make sure you don’t use one of your regular passwords (you do use different passwords for different sites, right?).

  • SendThisFile.com: This is a really slick service that is relatively inexpensive and in most cases has no file size restriction. With the free account, you can send up to 2GB. Nothing to cough at. 

  • MobileMe: If you are lucky enough to have procured a MobileMe account before Apple quit accepting new accounts, re-upping, etc, than you need to use this! MobileMe allows you to set up specific folders for others that have specific privileges, etc. For example: set up a file for your partner, and then give him/her access to upload, and download only within this directory. This takes all the work out of it for you!

  • Your Website: Remember to that you can use your personal website as an FTP. Set up a directory, set up specific privileges and upload the file. Again, this is very little work. 

[Ed: Also check out Dropbox as a great way to share files over the net. It's as simple as dropping a file into a folder in a Finder window. You can also get notifications to see when a file has been added, edited or removed in the Dropbox folder you've shared with your collaborator.]

There are literally tons of other ways of doing this, on top of the suggestions listed above. In fact, if you have any favorite file sharing services not mentioned in this post, be sure and leave a comment!

G.W. Childs IV

G.W. Childs IV | Articles by this author

Sound Designer, Musician, Author... G.W. Childs has worn many hats. Beginning in the U.S. Army back in 1991, at the age of 18, G.W. began learning electronics, communications and then ultimately audio and video editing from the Department of Defense. Upon leaving the military G.W. went on to work for many exciting companies like LucasArts, Lucasfilm, Propellerheads, Cakewalk, Midway, MTV. With all of these exciting companies he's either worked as an editor, or sound designer, even sometimes as an actor. G.W. is currently working as an author for Cengage Publishing. He has written the titles 'Creating Music and Sound for Video Games', 'Rewire: Skill Pack', and 'Using Reason on Stage: Skill Pack'. As a musician G.W. has played for years in the band Soil & Eclipse on COP International Records. Additionally, he's worked as a remix artist for acts like Gene Loves Jezebel, Ray Charles, James Brown, Chiazm, Razed in Black, and more.


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