Create a Folder Structure For Your Backup: Tips for Organizing Camera Files 4 min read

On a film set it is the data wrangler’s or DIT’s job to securely collect and copy all the media assets that have been produced on a shooting day (including camera originals, audio files and more). All these assets need to be organized in a systematic, distinct and clear structure.

In the following we will explain why choosing the right folder structure is important, point out some best practices, and show how Silverstack can assist with organizing your camera backups.

Why is a good folder structure important in the context of a film production?

Unlike on a shared volume where everybody involved in a project can take a look at the files at any time (e.g. file server or Dropbox), in the process of a movie production different people handle the files at different times. So for example when a travel drive from set arrives in a facility, the structure needs to be understandable in order to simplify the process and minimize overhead in communication. As the data wrangler or DIT is the first one that gets in touch with the produced media, his role is to provide a good basis for the organization of all relevant assets.

Best Practice: Good Communication and Sorting by Shooting Day

Good communication is the basis of all things. Everybody involved should have common understanding of the folder structure that should be maintained. Usually it makes sense to be on the same page with everybody that you have to deliver material to. For data wranglers and DITs that would be everybody involved in the dailies, editing, and archiving process.

For sorting material, a structure based on shooting days is a very common practice. The subsequent process of e.g. creating dailies usually respects the shooting day as a time segment in which everything is consistent (all takes are traceable as reported, all slates are assigned, etc.).

The next level of the folder structure is already more debatable. Usually different folders are created for the different types of assets that have to be transmitted (like e.g. camera clips, audio clips, etc.)

The most common kinds of materials are:

  • Camera Original
  • Audio
  • Reports
  • Transcodes (only if created on set)

Keeping the camera card structure untouched is recommended, as well as sorting cameras by letter. So when shooting with A and B camera it makes sense to create two folders inside the “Camera Original” folder that then hold the reels of only camera A, respectively only camera B.

An Example

To make the abstract explanations more concrete, here’s an example of a possible folder structure. Please use it as inspiration but avoid sticking to it without questioning it for your specific case.

Folder structure example

Folder structure example

We can see that the structure is based on the shooting day. The name of the top level folder starts with the shooting day, to clearly identify the content by day. The shooting day is then followed by the date.
Inside the top level folder the different types of assets are divided into “Audio”, “Camera Original”, “Reports”, and “Transcodes” (this would only be required if the transcodes were done on set). Inside the ‘Camera Original’ folder, the different cameras all have their separate folders (A_CAM and B_CAM, adding camera name and codec type). These are the folders in which the camera cards (reels) would appear.

How Does Silverstack Support The Backup Process with Your Folder Structure ?

When you are working with Silverstack, there are different features that help simplify the process of securely backing up data into the intended folder structure.

For example, the path wildcards in the offload wizard allow to build a custom folder structure for each destination drive. The folder structure can be composited by entering custom paths, but also by using metadata coming from the original camera card.

The path wildcards for a destination in the offload wizard.

The path wildcards for a destination in the offload wizard.

Default path wildcards like “Bin Name” and “Folder Structure” make sure that the original card folder structure is maintained.

Furthermore, offload templates (available in the Offload Wizard, just like the path wildcards) can store the information for all configured destinations. This allows you to quickly change between pre-configured offloading paths for different cards (e.g. from A and B cam or audio card backup).

Additionally Silverstack lets the user create a folder structure in its library for organizing ingested assets inside the application. The structure of the Silverstack library does not necessarily relate to the structure on the drive.

Folder structure in the Silverstack library.

Folder structure in the Silverstack library.

But the folder structure in the Silverstack library can also be used as path wildcards. For example, you can use the path wildcard “Library Folder Name” to offload media into an equally named folder on your drive.

In a Nutshell…

It makes sense to invest some time to think about and communicate the right folder structure for managing film data on set. Having everybody on the same page who needs to work with the files is the most important task to accomplish. In addition, a well-designed folder structure can also be self explanatory and useful for everybody else getting involved later.

Clever Media Management for Film Productions

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About the Author
Samuel is a product manager for Pomfort's on-set applications. Usually you can catch him working on new specs for the software products, writing documentation and shooting videos for our products – and sometimes writing blog posts about workflows and equipment.