Lightroom Classic: Export XMP files even if originals are not avaiable

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So, I have a person that edits my files for me, but she lives in another city. So, I export the files that have to be edited in a separate catalog along with SmartPreviews. Then, I send her only the catalog, without the original RAW files (or negatives). After editing the files, she has to send me back the edits, but for that, she has to send me the whole catalog again. As there are thousands of files in the catalog, it very big, and it takes a long time to transfer the files. One solution would be to be able to export the edits in XMP files. The problem is that LR disables the export of these files as the originals are not available. It would be great to be able to export XMP files even though the original files are not present. I understand LR writes XMP files in the same folder as the originals, but it could have an option to ask where XMP files will be stored. This way, after finishing all edits, the person can just send me the XMP files which are way smaller, and then I can import these files to my original catalog and have everything ready to be exported. 

By the way, how do you do to work with remote editing? Do you send the catalog and get it back? What if you have, like, 2000 RAW files that have to be edited? How do you do it?
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Glauco Castro

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  • frustrated

Posted 5 months ago

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Andrew Rodney

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The solution is easy and has been around for years: DNG. The edits, a preview and a pretty large (if so set) rendered JPEG of the edits reside inside the DNG as does the dcp profile and more. No need to send a catalog or anything else; just the DNG. 
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Glauco Castro

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Well, the problem is that even though the DNG file is smaller than the RAW files, it's still pretty big. And that's exactly what I want to avoid, sending a large amount of data back and forth.
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john beardsworth

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Send the catalogue (with smart previews), get it back (just the lrcat), File > Import from Another Catalog.
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Glauco Castro

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Humm. Interesting. I talked to the Adobe support and they told me that the edits are stored in the lrcat file + the smartpreview.lrdata folder, that is, essentially, the whole catalog. But if I can get back only the lrcat and import it back to my catalog, that'll do it. Yes, it's still much bigger then the XMP files, but much smaller then sending back the whole catalog. I'll try it. Thanks for the response. 
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Tom Mickow

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"After editing the files, she has to send me back the edits, but for that, she has to send me the whole catalog again."

That is correct.  She needs to send you the .lrcat catalog file, but that shouldn't be terribly large and should compress down pretty well, if you zip it.

"As there are thousands of files in the catalog, it very big, and it takes a long time to transfer the files."

Not quite right.  The catalog is just one database file - the .lrcat file.  The thousands of other files you're referring to are probably the previews in the .lrdata folder(s).  She doesn't need to send you those.  All she needs to send you back is the .lrcat catalog file.  You would then need to import that .lrcat file and let Lr rebuild the previews.

I do this all the time.  The basic process looks like this - 

-Create a collection of the images you're sending off to be edited.
-Export the collection as a catalog.  In the options, only check "Build / Include Smart Previews".
-Send the folder that gets created and all its contents to the editor.
-The editor will be able to open the catalog and edit using the Smart Previews.
-When the editor is done, the only thing they need to send back is the catalog file (.lrcat file).  All the edit info is contained in that file.
-Once you get it back, go to File --> Import from Another Catalog, pick the file that was sent to you and in the options, choose "Metadata and develop settings only" in the Replace drop down.

Give it a try.  It's easy.

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Glauco Castro

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Perfect! That's what John said! I'll do that. For sure it's much smaller than sending back everything. As I said, Adobe support told me the editor should send back lrcat + samrtpreview.lrdata, which is very big. Anyway, thanks for the replies. It helped a lot. But I still think that being able to export the XMP files would be even better, as those files are really small and can be compressed very much, as they are text files.

Regards!
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john beardsworth

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The xmp files don't contain all the work that may have been done. For example, flags and history steps aren't included, nor are any virtual copies which may have been created for alternative versions.
The smart previews only need to go one way - there's no point sending them back to you.
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Tom Mickow

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"Adobe support told me..."

First mistake.  :)

"But I still think that being able to export the XMP files would be even better, as those files are really small and can be compressed very much, as they are text files."

They might end up being a little smaller, but not enough to warrant the extra complexity.  You'd have to deal with all those xmps, make sure you put them all in the right folders, etc.  No thanks.  The catalog transfer is super easy and does all the work for you.

I just went through this process the other day with about 400 files, so I went back and did a little checking.  My initial send of the catalog & Smart Previews was a little over 200 MB.   The catalog file I got back was 3.3 MB compressed, 8.5MB uncompressed.  Yes, they're different now, but when I total up the XMPs for all those images, they come to 8.8MB, which compressed down to 1.8MB.

Transferring that catalog seems plenty efficient to me.

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Glauco Castro

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Yes, indeed. The test catalog I created had 1300+ images. It had 1.5GB (catalog + previews). I didn't try to compress the lrcat file, but it seems this is going to be the way to go. I really don't have a problem dealing with XMP files, but I understand that using the process you described will solve my problem! Thanks!!!!
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David Converse

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I don't understand how you get good results without the RAW files. Editing Smart Previews is NOT a substitute. You understand that those are rendered previews, not mosaiced RAW data?
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Tom Mickow

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Hmmm...not sure I get your point.  Technically, everything you see and edit in Lightroom is a rendered preview.  You're never actually editing the raw data. 
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john beardsworth

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In certain circumstances, it is a perfectly good substitute. In others not. Detail panel stuff, less so.
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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Smart Previews are Lossy DNG files resized to 2560 pixel long edge. They render and work virtually identical to using the original raw file except for Detail panel adjustments due to inability to see a 1:1 Preview. You can create and use full-size lossy DNG files, which do not have this limitation. For similar workflows I've suggested this as an 'Idea' at the below post:

https://feedback.photoshop.com/photoshop_family/topics/lightroom-classic-full-size-lossy-dng-workflo...


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David Converse

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Working on a resized copy of the original isn't the same. Anything requiring you to look at the image in 100% magnification won't work.
It may be good enough for the OP but I'd send the original RAW files one way or another.