Lights, camera, action – and storage

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Today, everything we do is converted to data. Lots of it. And with Seagate and IDC finding that by 2025, an average connected person anywhere in the world will interact with connected devices nearly 4,800 times per day — basically one interaction every 18 seconds – the volume of data is only going to increase.

According to the organisers of World Backup Day, almost a third of us (30 per cent) have never backed up our data. This is despite the fact that 113 phones are lost or stolen every minute throughout the world, and 1 in 10 computers are infected with viruses every month. The majority of this data loss (29 per cent) is caused by accidents, such as losing a laptop or spilling liquid on the hard drive.

Whenever we suffer data loss, the results can be catastrophic. In the creative industries, what goes on behind the scenes of a film, photoshoot or video production is just as important as the finished product, if not more so. While creativity is the key factor, every creative professional will also talk about the importance of establishing a technical workflow that safeguards the content and allows any project to come together successfully.

We’re creating more data than ever before, with Seagate and IDC estimating that data creation in the wider world will swell to a total of 163 zettabytes (ZB) by 2025, ten times the amount we’re creating today. And for creative professionals, data use is growing too. Metadata and image tagging, multi-formatting for multi-platform use, and the ever increasing quality of capture – like 4K and 8K, is bulking out file sizes. Due to these popular features, one piece of video content or a single photo in today’s world takes up far more capacity than it did 10 years ago. 

A few considerations must therefore be made before even turning the camera on in order to protect what you capture and avoid wasting, time, resource and money. To help prepare, here are six steps to consider this World Backup Day when developing your workflow and flexing your creative muscles:

1. Preparation, preparation, preparation

A workflow should form the foundation of any project and a plan must be in place to determine what you’ll need to make it a success – including storage. From script length, to shot resolution, to file size, these must all be considered when deciding on your storage solution to avoid being left short at the end.

Whether it be equipment hire or the cost of an actor’s time, many creative projects can’t afford too many takes so safely backing up and storing all files is vital. This all starts in pre-production and requires you to consider just one word, preparation. How prepared you are will ultimately benefit the final result.

2. Regular backups

Now that you have your workflow and storage plan in place, you need to make sure it is followed. Backing up footage as you shoot is an effective, systematic way to ensure all content is captured and kept safe. As mentioned, a re-shoot can be a costly exercise so getting into a habit of doing regular backups is a good idea.

When backing up, make sure to also create more than one copy as this all provides an extra layer of security and format your used drives before using again as best practice and it will also give you reassurance when passing the data between camera crews, editing teams and post-production teams.

3. Data management

Everyone, in every walk of life, has their own way of doing things and this is particularly true in the creative industries. Once your footage has been shot and stored, the move into post production is one that you want to keep as simple as possible in order to ensure the workflow is seamless.

A central part of that process is creating a consistent file structure that makes sorting and finding files as quick and easy as possible. This helps each team work together without any issues and create a better final piece of content.

4. Archiving

Before you go ahead and archive, you should make sure that all your files are accessible. Your file structure will be useful here, allowing you to check that all the parts of the project are there – and working.

The programmes used in the creative process, like editing and grading software, are constantly being updated, changed and modified. This can make file access a challenge as people often work on different platforms, versions and formats. It’s important therefore that you archive your data in the most accessible way as opposed to finding out later that you’re unable to access a particular file.

5. Do a Spring Clean

Have a look through your files and see what can be deleted. We often keep multiple versions of files for long periods of time, when in actual fact we no longer need to keep them because that particular project is now complete. During the editing phase it’s also worth considering whether you still need to hold onto version one, when you’re now on the 100th edit. See what you can delete from your cloud storage, your hard drive or the images you have saved to social media.

6. Staying secure

As well as backing up your data, keeping it safe once it’s stored is important too. Make sure you choose a reliable drive and put some protection in place. Whether it is a password or full encryption, decide what’s right for you and keep all your data safe.

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach for storage and backing up, and there is no such thing as a perfect workflow or a failproof backup. But, the right storage solutions, built into a well-thought workflow, can minimise risks and ensure that things don’t get missed.

For creative professionals who spend hours creating and editing valuable content, ensuring their data is backed up safely allows them to continue to do what they do best – all with the peace of mind that their hard work is secure and protected.

Edouard Doutriaux, EMEA Head of SMB and Distribution Sales, Seagate Technology
Image Credit: Flickr / janneke staaks