Fast Video Editing on the iPad Pro with LumaFusion – a Workflow Guide

February 7th, 2019

The iPad Pro has been on the market for a while now, yet the “Pro” in its name still has to live up to expectations. I talked to Pedro Hofmann, a videomaker from Vienna, in how he is making the iPad Pro into his fast turn-around editing machine using the LumaFusion app.

The iPad Pro-ish

Apple’s most recent upgrade to the iPad Pro line was impressive – with a processor that is exceeding the speed of many laptops in its line-up, it became clear during the Keynote introduction that it’s a sign of things to come. The iPad was finally powerful enough to be the Pro machine they promised a year earlier. With one huge caveat: the lack of a a proper file system and the incompatibility of the consumer-oriented iOS with the professional Mac OS makes the “Pro” in iPad Pro nothing more than a shallow promise.

LumaFusion on the iPad Pro

In comes Pedro Hofmann, a videomaker based in Vienna, who creatively specialised in producing fast turn-around one-minute films for his clients. He’s shooting the films on his Sony a7s II, his DJI Mavic drone and other gear, and then he edits right on the spot using his iPad Pro using the app LumaFusion. In fact he sold his MacBook Pro and considers the iPad Pro the best “selling tool” for his productions he’s ever had. I agree with him that showing edits to clients on an iPad often gets them more excited than showing them something on a conventional laptop – somehow the experience feels more haptic and organic.

File Access in iOS & WD My Passport Wireless

Regarding his workflow, it isn’t completely straightforward simply because Apple is limiting the way you can access files in iOS. He’s working with Apple’s USB-C SD reader as well as a Western Digital My Passport Wireless, which also has an SD reader built in, and it enables him to read and copy every file system of any camera (on the SD card) while Apple’s own reader ignores the folder structure of Sony cameras, for example, effectively showing an empty card despite the fact there’s data on there. The My Passport Wireless becomes a media hub that can serve the data into the editing app LumaFusion.

SD Reader in the WD My Passport Wireless

LumaFusion

Now of course it’s not ideal that there isn’t an Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro for the iPad Pro yet, meaning, it is impossible to move projects between your desktop and iPad so far. However, the LumaFusion editing app is truly impressive in what it’s capable to do: You can have up to three layers of video at 4K 50 playing simultaneously without any hick-up. And believe it or not, but it also plays H.265 extremely smoothly due to the graphics chip in the iPad Pro, something that even the biggest desktop machines can still struggle with these days.

LumaFusion seems like a very capable editing app at first glance, with proper editing shortcuts, layering, proper typo handling and many advanced functions. It’s definitely worth a closer look and seems to work quite well for these fast turnaround edits.

iPad Pro Editing – the Way of the Future?

Enjoy this workflow video above, peeking into Pedro’s way of working. I personally can’t wait until we can finally use an iPad Pro or any other laptop for professional editing because I think it will totally change the way of working. Direct interaction with your footage feels a lot more natural than the indirect way of working we’re used to with keyboards and mouses, and nothing has changed in that way in the last 30 years. It’s time for a revolution in professional interfaces.

What do you think about editing on an iPad Pro? Have you worked with LumaFusion before? Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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 Patrick McCann
Patrick McCann
Member
June 27th, 2019

Hey there Pedro, thanks for sharing your unique workflow. I also have been playing with shot, edit & upload in a day and you are right – the clients love it! I started out shooting and editing directly on Android and still do use that approach for quick messages where speed is of the essence. I had not heard of Luma Fusion so I will take a look at that with great interest. I was told the other day iPad pro will soon support USB . I switched to Samsung Note 8 and it is a joy to edit on but give me an excuse Apple and I will buy another iPhone.

 Barry Acton
Barry Acton
Member
June 13th, 2019

LumaFusion works great, but the WD my passport pro HDD is pure junk. Way to glitchy. Returned it the next day. There’s potential for it to work, but the external hardware isn’t there. If you dump it into the iPad via USB or card, you can make it work. Perhaps the SSD drive might be better.

Frank D'Amelio
Guest
March 30th, 2019

You sold me on the camera, Lumafusion, and WD my passport wireless.

Susan Laura
Guest
March 14th, 2019

Thank you for sharing an informative article!

Logan McMillan
Logan McMillan
Guest
February 11th, 2019

This doesn’t make any sense to me. The way he’s using it ends up just being the same as a laptop with a touchscreen. A laptop with no connectivity to an external hard drive and iOS apps. What’s the advantage here? Why wouldn’t you just have a MacBook Pro and run Final Cut X / Premiere, After Effects, Photoshop, Resolve, EditReady etc. ?

 John McQuay
John McQuay
Member
February 9th, 2019

I have used this setup at two different trade shows. The first was with a Canon 80D and the process was fairly smooth once I figured out the issues with WiFi and the WD Drive. The second show was a bit of a catastrophe. I used a Panasonic GH5 and was shooting in a higher format than the iPad Pro could handle. It would not even ingest the footage and although I was able to load it on the WD Drive direct from the SD Card, I could not view the clips on the iPad Pro. I ended up editing that sequence in FCPx on my MacBook Air. This was PAINFULLY slow, but it actually worked.

Apple definitely needs to step up their game if they expect the iPad to be a true “Pro” device. I can make it work for limited, small projects but it will never replace my 5K iMac and Premiere CC for more in-depth projects.

Pedro Hofmann
Guest
February 9th, 2019

I have heard (not tested), that the DJI Lacie Copilot harddisk can connect directly with cable to the ipad. There is also a USB-C cable now. But does it work? Some say the data copy function is not good, because files are always backed up again and again. Anyone who knows more? This would be a better solution for bigger files, because wifi is too slow in some cases.
Maybe they will come up soon with a new version as Gnarbox hits the market now.

 Erkki Juurus
Erkki Juurus
Member
February 8th, 2019

I think editing videos on an iPad still sounds a bit like a solution looking for a problem. Suppose it’s doable, sort of, as demonstrated in the video, but that’s not my cup of tea. Even though I was an early adopter of the iPad. I don’t want to use a touch interface for everything, just for the sake of it.

I can understand how vloggers/bloggers and smartphone geeks would want to use an iPad Pro or some tablet to process their vlog and SoMe clips, but I don’t see it replacing laptops and desktops in a typical professional workflow quite yet.
Is that the future, if/when the tablets get more power, better I/O solutions and better software, who knows, maybe. Maybe we won’t have much options left in the 2020’s, we’ll see.

Meanwhile, I for one will probably go to the opposite direction, as long as it is an option. After a few years of editing –and struggling– with a laptop only, I’ve been planning on going for something like the iMac Pro.

Pedro Hofmann
Pedro Hofmann
Guest
February 8th, 2019
Reply to  Erkki Juurus

This is not a all-in-one tool for sure. I am editing most of my productions stil on the main computer and I do not see to change this soon – BUT >> it is interesting what you can deliver in even a short time. To have less options makes you more creative. Imaging you have to produce with one small cam and one fixed lens – no zoom lens. You will find a a way to get good results. Same if you are limited with this way of producing. You prepare your graphics before, you will make a folder with fitting music and you will watch carefully, that you make short records to be able to read out data fast. It is like a boot camp efficent working ;-)

Tomppa
Tomppa
Guest
February 8th, 2019

I use IpadPro/Iphone and Luma Funsion from the beginning Luma Fusion came out.
I use it for on the spot news. Breaking news,… import and editing footage from C100MKII or 1DX to my Iphone editing footage with interviews and its almost live reporting :)

Spike Boydell
Guest
March 5th, 2019
Reply to  Tomppa

I agree Tomppa – I find that Premiere Pro really struggles (and crashes repeatedly) with 500mbs 24fps and 800mbs 60fps files from my 1DX2 (even after proxies are made) but they play effortlessly on LumaFusion. The challenge is getting those files onto the iPadPro and I currently use the WD My Passport Wireless Pro (like Pedro) but I am also going to buy/try to Lacie DJI CoPilot BOSS direct drive which seems more efficient.

Guest
February 8th, 2019

We’re so close to having a viable mobile video editing solution here! If only Apple would let us use external drives via the USB-C. I will give it another shot when I’ll receive my Gnarbox v2.

Marc-Ferdinand Körner
Guest
February 8th, 2019

I got my hands in it also.

Bytheway – you can import from the A7 series directly via usb-cable (camera to iPad Pro) – so you are able to import the footage without the external drive.

Lumafusion is VERY MIGHTY – but still lacks a lot of standard festures – the most wantes festure for me would be a Global Adjustment Layer for a good colorgrading. But also more than 4 Tracks would be nice to have.

Anyone any questions on Lumafusion that hasnt been answered here?

 Paul Szilard
Paul Szilard
Member
February 7th, 2019

Price considerations. Note I am using AUSTRALIAN prices, rounded to nearest $10 in AU$.
– iPad Pro 12.9″ with Cellular and 1TB storage Au$2,870
– Apple Pencil Au$200
– Apple Keyboard Au$300
– LumaFusion Au$30
=> Total Au$3,400

Compared to similar size product
– MacBook Pro 13″ 2.7GHz quad-core i7 16GB ram 1TB SSD Au$4,400
– I am assuming that purchaser already has already got FCPX license

I think I would favour the MBP with facility to run all my existing programs and ability to easily work with external wired SSD, DVD burner, headphones, Thunderbolt 3 interfaces, etc.

What are your thoughts?

Pedro Hofmann
Pedro Hofmann
Guest
February 8th, 2019
Reply to  Paul Szilard

Hey Paul – nice input – thanks. It is never about price. I have paid for the iPad 12.9 512GB wifi/cell with pencil, keypad and care about € 2.150,- which is huge. I sold my MBP 2015 and my old ipad pro for about the same price together. Crazy. But after the first job (!) I have edited on location, I got 2 more jobs the same day from the client, because I could publish right away.
About other drives: I am not 100& happy with my WD. I will check the upcoming Gnarbox 2 with the SSD but I have heard about another device from LaCie/DJI which you can use even with a cable but I do not know yet, if this works with USB-C too. Stay tuned – I will keep you updated.

 Paul Szilard
Paul Szilard
Member
February 10th, 2019
Reply to  Pedro Hofmann

Hi Pedro, thanks for replying.

I currently have a previous gen iPad Pro 9.7″ with 128GB storage, as well as a MacBook Air 500GB ssd/8GB ram and an iMac PRO 8 core. I bought LumaFusion to see it and it totally blows me away on my iPad Pro. It is SO GOOD! I think I’ll have to rethink my original logic! I also listened to FCPX Radio from Richard Taylor episode #79, where he interviews the makers of LumaFusion. Really interesting.

I think pairing a new Gnarbox v2 to an iPad Pro, really DOES make sense, so I have to re-think my original comments, however in truth, I think the “game changer” would be the s/w (LumaFusion) rather than the h/w, that is so exciting. If LumaFusion was released for OS X, then the only downside for running on a MacBook “whatever” would be the lack of a touch screen and that could be overcome with the touch pad.

The real exciting aspect is that LumaFusion is simply brilliant: fast and easy to use. If it was on OS X, it could be used for most small productions, and then if needed, the project transferred to FCPX for finishing. The XML transfer from LumaFusion to FCPX is already in Beta Test mode so it’s definitely coming. Granted, “big” production that require multi-cam and external audio, currently still needs FCPX, but these functions are also coming to LumaFusion. For vlogging and run & gun, I reckon LumaFusion is superior to FCPX and hands down better than iMovie.

In the meantime, I will be playing with LumaFusion on my current iPad Pro. I recommend it to anyone who already has a suitable iPad, just buy LumaFusion to see. Also you can watch their tutorials on YouTube, and I bet that you won’t be able to watch all before you jump in and buy a copy, especially as it is so inexpensive, cheaper than many plug-ins that I have bought for FCPX!

ps: Sad limitation of iOS, atm is that there is no support for ProRes or AVCHD. So really the best codecs would be H.264 and H.265 if you want to edit on iPads.

 Paul Szilard
Paul Szilard
Member
February 15th, 2019
Reply to  Paul Szilard

Bought a 12.9″ iPad Pro 512GB at the beginning of the week and spent many hours evaluating it using LumaFusion and FTPManager Pro intending to use it to create stock content for BlackBox. Also was planning to use the iPad as replacement to 2 MacBooks that I own plus an earlier iPad Pro 9.7″.

Today, I have concluded that the iOS limitation of not supporting ProRes and Sony files, plus the inability to connect any USB external storage, means it is just not a good fit for me. So it is going back to Apple today, and I shall be trying a 13″ MacBook Pro instead. (The 15″ is too large for my bag and motorcycle panniers). I just want to be able to play 4k video, and edit short clips up to 60 seconds.

So I now also have a redundant Logitech backlit keyboard for the 12.9″ iPad Pro! If you are interested drop me an email at paul-at-remektek.com.au.

 Paul Szilard
Paul Szilard
Member
February 7th, 2019

A very exciting intro that raises a lot of questions for me. I am not trying to be provocative, but these questions need to be answered, before anyone rushes out to ditch their MacBook Pro 6 core i7 processor machine to buy an iPad pro!

1) Need a comparison of NLEs on iPad. iMovie, Pinnacle Pro, LumaFusion, GoPro Splice, Videorama, Quik, etc.
2) What storage iPad Pro needed, if using external WiFi SSD. Apple pricing is very steep when it comes to storage, so some guidelines are required, especially as it is not possible to add storage later
3) Is the Apple Pencil a cost effective/mandatory tool for video editing?
3) What is the best external WiFi disk enclosure? I see WD is not the only one!
4) An unbiased comparison between iPad editing versus FCPX on a MacBook Pro. I find it difficult to imagine how the iPad would be a better choice than a 6 core i7 MBP with 32GB memory and 2TB SSD and a fully kitted out FCPX (with additional plugins and Compressor and Motion). I have an open mind, but really?? Also worth noting that with 3.5 million users of FCPX, there is significant training investment with the mobile video producers, so learning a brand new tool, like LumaFusion, has downsides to consider. Of course this would be different for someone brand new to NLE on the run.

Paul

John Sartin
Guest
February 7th, 2019

GREAT POST! Thank you very much Nino and Pedro!

I agree with other comments about frustrations of the file format limitations of iOS. However, there’s a lot of work I do for clients where H.264/H.265 it totally acceptable. I’m definitely rethinking the way I work and considering a similar setup.

 Paul Szilard
Paul Szilard
Member
February 7th, 2019
Reply to  John Sartin

What is your current setup, John? My gut would still think that a MacBook Pro with maybe a 4TB external SSD would be a superior platform, but this article certainly raises some interesting options to consider.

Pedro Hofmann
Pedro Hofmann
Guest
February 8th, 2019
Reply to  John Sartin

Hey John. Most of the time, especially for fast and small productions you deliver anyway only h264 for Youtube or Facebook. This is 90% the case in my productions. So… of course it is not perfect – that´s why we are working with small tricks to be the first who can can deliver in blazing fast time. The right tool for the situation.

John Sartin
Guest
February 9th, 2019
Reply to  Pedro Hofmann

Thanks Pedro. What I meant to say was that h.265/h.265 is a suitable acquisition format for a significant number of my clients. As you said, 90% of delivery is for social media and blog/vlog posts, so delivery is almost exclusively h.264.

Graeme
Guest
February 7th, 2019

Oh, sweet!

Vladimir
Vladimir
Guest
February 7th, 2019

I don’t understand how is this faster or more convenient than a Macbook Pro with FCPX.

Vladimir
Vladimir
Guest
February 7th, 2019
Reply to  Vladimir

Ok, now it’s clear, he has no experience with FCPX :)

 Lars Steenhoff
Member
February 7th, 2019

I bought an iPad pro 512 gb just for luma fusion and lightroom.
Apple did allow reading 10bit h265 files in ios 11, and in ios 12 they block them. and I can’t downgrade to
ios 11 anymore because apple dont let me. ( with the apple camera sd card reader)

It just does not work. the new apple slogan.

Pedro Hofmann
Pedro Hofmann
Guest
February 8th, 2019
Reply to  Lars Steenhoff

Hey Lars. I do work with the latest iOS software and have no problem with h265 as seen on the video from my cameras. I took also a H265 mov file from Nino with 200mbits without troubles. Just Gopro seems to have some troubles right now with 4k 50p. I could not figure out why but this is new. My Gopro Fusion has no problems and also delivers in H265. So I think this is not a problem from the ipad itself as you have a new encoder/decoder working now. Check if you have the latest updates. Also in Lumafusion. For a short while they had some troubles with H265 but this is history

Member
March 20th, 2019
Reply to  Pedro Hofmann

He’s talking about 10bit files. That’s always the stinking point. Not the bitrate of a format. Are your files 10bit?

James Zsigmond
Guest
February 7th, 2019

It’s unfortunate that this “pro” device doesn’t support Apples Prores codec……. actually it’s pretty ridiculous….

What Haveyou
Guest
February 7th, 2019
Reply to  James Zsigmond

And even if that changes, there’s still the idiotic lack of a headphone jack. And do you think Apple will allow proper I/O through the USB port? Of course not.

Apple and Jony Ive have taken an already marginal gimmick and made it LESS useful.

John Cummings
John Cummings
Guest
February 7th, 2019
Reply to  What Haveyou

Does the iPad Pro not have wireless headphone capability?

Pedro Hofmann
Pedro Hofmann
Guest
February 8th, 2019
Reply to  What Haveyou

Absolutly agree – Apple sucks with the lack of an headphone jack. Enough space for that. I work with the Bose bluetooth headphones and this works perfect.

Jan de Bloois
Guest
May 30th, 2020
Reply to  What Haveyou

There is prober I/O though USB with the Apple camera adapter, which I use on my standard 9’7” iPad. Also I can use my Røde SC6-L, which allows me to connect a stereo headphone (3.5mm TRS connector) AND two TRSS microphones. My iPad is connected with the iRig Keys I/O 25, which is not only a midi keyboard, but also has a XLR/jack microphone or guitar input, and a line output, and a headset output. I use LumaFusion since 18 months now (version 1.7). Nowadays LumaFusion has 6 video channels, 6 audio channels and blend modes on the video channels. I hardly use FCPX anymore.

Vladimir
Vladimir
Guest
February 7th, 2019
Reply to  James Zsigmond

So all Windows machines weren’t pro until couple of months ago? :) iPad is not yet made for this, MBP and FCPX is much much better for editing on the go, and that’s why it doesn’t support Prores.

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