Archiving/cataloging hundreds of thousands of photos...?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by seenew, Jun 5, 2008.

  1. seenew macrumors 68000

    seenew

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2005
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    #1
    Hi.
    So, I got this nice internship working for the photography and 'event productions' (A/V) department at Aflac's world headquarters for the summer. One of the tasks they saddled me with was organizing their vast collection of digital images, and digitizing their film images. They're waaaay behind on the digital era.. They've been storing most of their stuff on CDs or DVDs and filing them away on shelves and in drawers.
    I've estimated (based on the shoots I've been on with them, and the files I've seen so far) that there have to be well over 100,000 images, and I'm probably way underestimating.

    (They've also got dozens and dozens of mini DV and VHS tapes which also need to be stored and cataloged)

    Strangely enough, this whole department (about five people) uses only PCs. I'm told that the IT department won't let Macs on the network here. I suspect it's mainly because they don't want to train new IT people just for a few Macs...

    Anyway, I think I can convince my supervisor to upgrade these older PC's and get some iMacs.
    Assuming he goes for it, and convinces IT as well, what are my options for working with such a huge number of files?

    They would like to be able to call the files up from any computer in the department (so they need to be on a network), and be able to search and sort by date, keyword, filetype, etc...

    I really have no experience with this, but I was thinking something like Aperture.. Would that work? If not, what?

    Any help is greatly appreciated. I'm working on a pitch to give them next week.

    Thanks so much!


    Edit: Also, if there is a PC route, feel free to suggest one of those, too. The Mac's aren't guaranteed, but I'm hoping if Apple has the best/easiest solution(s) that could push them to get a few iMacs.
     
  2. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Location:
    In my imagination
    #2
    From what I've gathered so far, Lightroom and Aperture won't work too well since they aren't great apps for networked libraries.

    You might have to convince them to get a heavier application for photo archives like Merlin or some variation. They usually work off of a network server, so even if you are running Mac or Win you'll be fine, but they will have to pay for the licensing.

    On another note, please caption, keyword, and title the photos; though I know you will. It was hard enough trying to convince my former paper to do those simple things, now their archives have gone to hell and it serves them right.

    If they don't want to spend anything, then Windows Explorer it is, just make sure you find a way or a free program that allows you to enter in and search metadata for the photos.

    p.s. I cataloged files for a Baltimore business about a year back, freelance, and they had a pretty good archive of images (10,000 or so) done in only WE windows and folders. They used Bridge to view the images and captions.
     
  3. seenew thread starter macrumors 68000

    seenew

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2005
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    #3
    You couldn't view an Aperture library from another Mac on the same network?

    edit: Ah, Bridge. Hadn't thought of that. Though they'd have to update their Adobe suite... they're still in PS7 :|
     
  4. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Location:
    In my imagination
    #4
    You can view it if it's in the finder, but anything you do (edits/stacks/keywords) won't be viewable in another copy of Aperture or in the Finder.

    Bridge allows you to rate keyword etc. and apply it to the image so it can be viewed in another copy of Bridge. The only downside that I can think off the top of my head is that Bridge doesn't have very good, or any, search features. Merlin does, not that I am promoting Merlin, just that it's the only app I know that can do what you are asking.
     
  5. seenew thread starter macrumors 68000

    seenew

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2005
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    #5
    Thanks for the help, I'll check out Merlin, then.
    Any experience working with video in a situation like this?
     
  6. edesignuk Moderator emeritus

    edesignuk

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    Location:
    London, England
    #6
    Just make sure you have a gigabit ethernet network!
     
  7. seenew thread starter macrumors 68000

    seenew

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2005
    Location:
    Brooklyn
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #9
    If you are going to use Apple software for this project about the only Option is "Final Cut Server". It will allow you to keep the media in a central pllace and then access the files from either Macs or PCs that are on the company's network. This is the key here those files need to be searchable and accessable over a network by multiple computers simultainiously. iPhone and Aperture are NOT well suited to this task.

    You need some software that runs on a central server where the client software runs on a common desktop machine.

    Final Cut Server is designed for video but it can store all kinds of media files, even test files and spreadsheets, scripts and story borads. There are other products out there too that compete with this, so look around
    Read more about it here.
    http://www.apple.com/finalcutserver/

    Next you do NOT want to run this on an iMac. You need a server class machine, that means dual power su;plies, redundant disks and so on and you are going to need a bomb proof backup plan one that can survive a building fire and two serious, simulltainius hardware failures.

    If they ask you to scan film all you have to do is send it off to scancafe.com They will do it cheaper and likely better then you can. They have nearly unlimited capasity and easly handle a 20,000 image order.

    The fact that they've asigned the job to a summer intern does not speak well of this company. This job is not a one person job and needs some one who can direct a group and who has some budget authority. The biggest part of the job by far will be data entry. Every image will need to be assigned keywords and a title and other meta data. That alone will take at least one minute per image or one year if you work 40 hours a week
     
  9. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Location:
    In my imagination
    #10
    I completely forgot about Filemaker Pro. I think these may offer you a better solution than what I have mentioned.

    I couldn't find anything on Merlin or the other app that i remember (Data Vue) either. They either went out of business or they are locked into the Harris system which my paper uses to do production. ????? go figure.

    But Filemaker might be the best solution for setting up a system that can be accessed across a network to other computers, and they will see what you see when they look into the application.... if it's setup correctly.
     
  10. seenew thread starter macrumors 68000

    seenew

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2005
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    #11
    I guess I may have overstated my specific task, I think really what they want me to do is investigate a solution, and maybe get it started. Obviously I won't be doing this alone, and it won't be done in one summer.

    Thanks to everyone for the advice, it's very informative. My top supervisor is out of town this week (I haven't actually talked to him personally yet), so I'll get with him next week to get an idea of their specific needs.

    I figured the main terminal would need to be a high end Mac Pro or something, I just meant mostly the iMacs would be for the photogs and other people in the department (we're pretty tiny). I think the biggest hurdle there will be getting IT to O-K the purchase of Macs.
     
  11. seenew thread starter macrumors 68000

    seenew

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2005
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    #12
    So, could someone give me an idea of what kind of specs (minimum and recommended) I'd need in a Mac Pro to act as the server in this project?

    edit: this is interesting, at least for the client-side machines:
     
  12. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2007
    Location:
    TX
    #13
    Side question:

    Would XSan be necessary in this environment (1 server 10-20 clients)? Or would gigabit ethernet connections do the job?
     

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