The importance of media management is paramount to every production. I am currently working as a camera assistant/data wrangler on a new series called The classic Car Show, this involves dealing with multiple cameras and formats 3-4 days per week, dealing with approximately 300GB of footage per shoot day. On a job using Sony F5’s, F55’s, Panasonic GH4’s, RED Epic/Scarlett, GoPro’s, 5D MKIII’ and many others, it is key to have a solid workflow in place to deal with the data on a day to day basis.
Software & Data Organisation.
Although a series of meticulous steps must be followed to maintain folder integrity etc, there is software out there to help you sleep soundly at the end of a long shoot day, week, month or year! ShotPut Pro is an automated copy utility for HD video and photo files. The simple user interface and robust copy speeds make it indispensable for today’s tapeless HD workflows. SPP allows you to create multiple offload presets for each camera. Within each preset you set your own naming structure and more importantly, you can set multiple destinations to offload your media. Allowing you to dump media onto multiple hard drives in one hit. One of the best feature of SPP, is that you can set it to run an MD5 checksum of all of the media that you use, once verified, SPP generates a log which provides useful paperwork to help prove that media has been copied effectively and where it was copied to. I know many are happy enough using finder to drag and drop copies, but after chatting with Dan Montgomery at Imagine Products, I felt much less confident that this was an effective method for the professional world. Dan told me “the byte count is simply what’s reported by the OS which is allotted in blocks of 4 KB. In other words, Finder values are rounded to nearest block so they’re not precise. Only checksums are indicative of actual matches.” Ever since that conversation, I have relied on SPP & MD5 when creative precise matches.
The image above shows some of the data provided in an MD5 log when using ShotPut Pro.
An MD5 checksum is a string of letters and numbers that acts like a fingerprint for a file. If two files have the same MD5 checksum, the files are exactly alike; this is why MD5 “fingerprints” can verify whether or not your downloaded file was corrupted at any stage. For many, a simple byte size check in finder is verification enough that the copies made are exact replicas of the original media, for me, I like the peace of mind that MD5 offers.
Folder Structures & Naming Conventions
Now this is something that I am incredibly specific about. Strong file structures are imperative, you really do need a system in place that allows no room for error, and that is also clear and easy to work with for any other person. With large volumes of footage being delivered on a daily basis, it is essential to have a strong process in place. Again, SPP makes this process easier to monitor and remain consistent.
My Folder naming conventions are DAYMONTHYEAR_SHOOTTITLE_REEL#_CAMERA
Three little words, BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP
Backing up properly is crucial, and the importance of multiple backups is sometimes lost on production companies and it is necessary to explain in detail the importance of the process you are putting in place, and a justification as to why multiple backups must be made. Touchwood, I’ve never had any serious data corruption, or loss of footage, I can only imagine the sinking feeling to have lost any or all of an irreplaceable shoot day’s footage.
Kit Break Down
13” MacBook Pro Retina Display
1x 4TB G-Raid (USB 3.0)
2x 2TB Rugged Lacie (USB 3.0 & Thunderbolt)
SxS Card Reader (USB 3.0)
StarTech Card Reader USB 3.0 (CF/SD/Micro SD)
Lexar Pro USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader (CF/SD)
*I’m certainly not saying this is the correct way to work. However, this is the method that I use and continue to develop with post houses and production teams that I work with and it works effectively for me.