How to communicate with a Chinese crew and how to get footage from China

Many websites or applications which are popular in Western countries don't work in China, such as Google, Facebook, whatsapp. We need to use VPN to have access to these websites and applications, but VPN is not always stable. In order to make sure a shoot goes well, it's important to know how to communicate with a local Chinese crew and how to get footage from China without having to use VPN.

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For pre-shooting meetings, we recommend Team and Zoom, which are also widely used by Chinese companies and not ( yet ) blocked by the Chinese government. Wechat is the most poplular way to chat remotely in China. You can do video chat/audio chat/ group chat with it. However, if you don't have a wechat account and want to register one from abroad, we don't recommend it. It's becoming complicated to get an account and you have to ask several people to scan a QR code for you in a very short period of time. Facetime is surprisingly super convienient in China. No matter for a quick call before the shoot or you want to keep in contact with the crew during the shoot, even you want to supervise the interview or ask questions by youself, it works very well in China and you don't have to worry about connection or VPN.

  • Team
  • Zoom
  • Wechat
  • Facetime


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Another problem that many clients are worried about is how to get footage from China. As is mentioned earlier, Google is blocked in China. So forget Google Drive or Dropbox. Wetransfer is not ideal either. Sometimes it works well with VPN, but sometimes it doesn't. For footage of less than 50 GB, maybe you can give it a try with a pro account of wetransfer. But be prepared that it takes time and may stop after a while. Baidu cloud is the most popular way to send large files inside China. But again, as wechat, it could be difficult for foreigners to install and register. If you don't read Chinese or have a Chinese phone number, we don't recommend it either.

  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • Wetransfer
  • Baidu cloud
  • MASV
  • Filezilla
  • Shipping a hard drive

MASV is something worth trying. You get a link on their website and send it to your crew, it's easy and works well for the most of time if the footage is not too large, but it demands VPN as well. If you have a FTP account, you can also try Filezilla. But according to our experience, it may work for 50% of time. You'd better try it with your crew before the shoot. It works in other places in the world doesn't mean it works in China. Acutally, the best solution for sending big files ( over 100 GB) from China is shipping a hard drive. It could take a week or so to arrive in the US or Europe. The cost of shipping as well as a hard drive could be around 150 USD. But believe me, you could save a lot of energy and time, instead of writing to your crew everyday to check all the other options work or don't work.

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What the crew of Focus Film China usually does with large files is to send the interview audio as soon as the shoot is done so the client can get it translated. If it's very urgent, we would advice our client that we ship a hard drive the day or the day after the shoot, while in the meantime, we try to upload the footage using all the possible options one by one.

If you have questions about ways to communicate with Chinese crews or how to get footage from China, please write to us at 

We are happy to help you out with our 10- year experience shooting in China!