Going from Aperture to Lightroom? Put it in the Cloud!
COW Library : Adobe Photoshop Tutorials : Jiggy Gaton : Going from Aperture to Lightroom? Put it in the Cloud!
THE WHYIf you are like me, you are sitting here wondering what is to become of Apple's Aperture and iPhoto apps now that they are no longer in Cupertino's best favor, and are now destined for Apple's app graveyard. These dead apps are being replaced by Apple Photos come the next version of OSX – Yosemite.
If you have a spare weekend and can't wait to see if that works for you, you will be interested in this tutorial on migrating Aperture & iPhoto media to someplace other than a historical cemetery, or migrated to a totally new and unknown application. In addition, this tut explores how to create an editing platform that allows the entire family to share in the love, no matter where in the world they are, and no matter what device they are using.
THE WTFDon't get me wrong, I love Apple Computers and their software – pretty much – but I am not one to use discontinued software that contains bugs, as I am certain to run into one sooner or later – that's just my luck.
So when I heard the news of iPhoto and Aperture's ultimate demise, I immediately embarked on creating an alternative that would allow myself & family to: There are actually lots of great tuts that helped me write this one, so thanks to the many who have already posted bits of this material. This particular tut however, takes you from one deep end (lots of Aperture & iPhoto libraries) to the other (a beautifully organized and cloud-based Lightroom system) – something I could not find on Google.
This tut works best for those with a recent copy of Aperture (3.5+) as well as the latest Adobe Lightroom software (5.6), and for Android camera-roll sharing, you will need a Dropbox account with a few free GBs to play with. Optionally, two apps are also helpful here: Aperture Exporter & Duplicate Annihilator. Okay, let's start by unlocking your goods from Aperture…
Step 1. Export your stuff from ApertureBy far the best way to do this is to invest in this little app: Aperture Exporter, or use this nice tut from John Beardsworth if you want to save 15 bucks.
The documentation on Aperture Exporter is accurate and easy to follow, so just follow the Getting Started Guide to guide you through to the other side.
The slight annoyance here is that the export process will have to be attended. For example, for my test set of Aperture media (over 27,000 items), the export took many hours to complete, with me more than occasionally having to hit the OK button when Aperture ran into problems – like the IPTC bug. (Not much we can do about that.)
Now that all your media is stored in a local-file hierarchy, Lightroom can easily import everything, without a loss of metadata and other media information; face & location info, labels, ratings, color coding, etc. is all preserved. That's because Aperture Exporter intelligently creates .XMP sidecars to hold all that extra "stuff." Wow.
Note: first I merged all my Aperture libraries before exporting, despite conventional wisdom, then I used Duplicate Annihilator (for 8 bucks) on my now mother-of-all Aperture library to rid myself from dups (and there were lots, believe me). For those that have copied and combined and split numerous libraries over the years, this step is a must.
Step 2. Take your keywords with youIn addition to your now foot-loose-and-free Aperture media, you can easily bring along your keywords that you used in Aperture, and if you do this step before importing media files into Lightroom, everything is put right back into place (just as it was in Aperture).
Just go the Aperture's keyword HUD (shift-h) and click export to save your keywords and keyword structure into a file.
Then, open up Lightroom and import that file – that's it, you're done. As you import the file structure from Step 1, Lightroom will automagically match the old keywords to your newly imported media files.
Step 3. Import your media into LightroomImporting media into Lightroom is also easy, but there are a lot of options and functions to consider.
However, if your goal is just to have things the way they were in Aperture (or iPhoto), then just select all or part of the structure created in Step 2, then select the Add feature, and Allow Duplicates – then away you go.
You can also choose to Build Smart Previews during the import process under File Handling, but you can always create those after the import; that's up to you. More on the creation of Smart Previews later…
Step 4. Connect your Camera Rolls on your Android or iPhone devicesNow we are going to start enabling our new library for access in the Cloud, everyone's dream come true. I started by just including the Dropbox Camera Uploads folder in my Lightroom library by:
After that, whenever a new pic is taken on your phone or tablet (configured with the Dropbox app to upload photos over Wi-Fi or cellular network) that pic will be synced and appear in your Lightroom library after you refresh the Camera Uploads folder in Lightroom (either manually, or by making a smart collection from this entry).
For a manual refresh, use the Add feature, and not any of the others like Move. Again, you can choose to make Smart Previews or not during the import, but now we must start thinking about performance in the cloud… you really only need to make Smart Previews of things you need on the road, or for family members who want to manipulate and export library items from their own machines.
More on that next…
Step 5. Putting Everything into PlaySo now that we have our new library set and ready to roll, let's take Lightroom to the next level by smartly putting what we need in the Cloud and leaving the rest behind.
In other words, we want the catalog of media on Dropbox for sharing, and not the multiple dozens of GBs of photos and videos – and come to find out, there is no need for all of that anyway.
To accomplish this we need to do two things:
Preference setting for the LR catalog
Now, if any item has a Smart Preview built for it, anyone else using this catalog will actually be able to make adjustments or export decent results, for example to social media sites or email recipients.
In other words, we want the catalog of media on Dropbox for sharing, and not the multiple dozens of GBs of photos and videos. As it turns out, you don't really need the original files to do a lot of common tasks, like making adjustments, tagging and sorting, etc.
For any image saved with a Smart Preview, other users on different machines will be able to manipulate and generate decent prints from the tiny DNG preview files stored in catalog_name Smart Previews.lrdata.
So let's say that I want to take my photo & media show on the road using my laptop, I would just make sure that before I left home that I created Smart Previews for all the files that I plan on manipulating while away. For others to work with the library on other machines, the same applies – make Smart Previews for these files.
Now, you could just select everything in your library and create Smart Previews for the entire shebang, but I've noticed that the larger the Smart Preview catalog file becomes, the slower the sync on Dropbox. This may or may not be a problem for you, but in my case, I choose to just build Smart Previews for items I know will need adjustments by others.
Let's explore Smart Previews a bit further, as they are the lynchpin when working with this type of cloud sharing…
ON USING SMART PREVIEWSAs mentioned, Smart Previews are mini-versions of your actual media files that can be used for making adjustments or producing lower-quality files for upload to social media sites, for emails, and for using in other documents like Word or PowerPoint. These are also the files used when working remotely, and if updated, the changes are reflected across all machines using the shared library.
The major caveat here is that only one person can work on the library at a time (LR locks the files when in use), and ample time must be allowed after closing Dropbox to perform the sync. The good news here is that Dropbox appears to know when, say, only one out of the thousands of previews has been changed, and will only sync that bit of your library. The bad news is that what exactly gets updated and why, is still a bit of mystery.
So exactly how do you make Smart Previews? You can do so whenever you import a file (or group of files). You can also select any file or group of files and mark them for Smart Preview generation at any time, and you can also set an expiration date for your previews, after which time the cache is flushed automatically. This of course, is all done on the machine that is locally attached to your media.
IN SUMMARYThis all may seem like a lot of work (and it was a bit while I sorted everything out), but once done, this system will provide you and others with a solution for sharing large Lightroom libraries efficiently. (No need to pay for 100 GBs of Dropbox space!)
My test library of 27,000+ items and over 100 GBs of content only consumes 1 GB of space on Dropbox – amazing, never could have done this with an Aperture library. This procedure has also unleashed all my Aperture content, and placed that within a tried & true professional photo tool (Lightroom).
Within a few months of this writing, Apple is set to release Photos, a new app that replaces iPhoto and Aperture, and which may or may not provide the functionality we are accustomed. And for Android users, Apple Photos will undoubtedly leave you out in the cold.
I hope you enjoyed this write up, and please feel free to use the comment section below to let us know about your experiences with photos and the cloud.