Final Cut -- Best Practices for storage, archiving etc.?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by MattG, Aug 11, 2007.

  1. MattG macrumors 68040

    MattG

    Joined:
    May 27, 2003
    Location:
    Fletcher, NC
    #1
    This may be kind of long so please bear with me...

    Let me start off by saying, I'm fairly new to FCP. I've been using it regularly for about a year. I went to a formal training class, and I'm to the point where I'm fairly comfortable producing footage with it. What I'm still not comfortable with is the whole aspect of storage, and the file/folder structure that FCP uses. I used to use iMovie extensively, so I'm used to everything being compiled into one big project file. I realize the way FCP works is probably better, but I'm not sure about the best way to manage all this stuff. How do you all do it?

    Here's my situation -- I've got a 500gb FW hard drive that I've been using as storage for all my video projects at the University I work for. I usually create folders for each category of project that I work on, and I store the actual FCP project file in there. So, a folder for faculty projects, a folder for this department, that department, etc. But, that's just where the project files go. All the actual data goes wherever FCP puts all that stuff...video scratch, audio render, etc...there's like 4 or 5 folders I think. So let's say for example, I finish a project, and I've produced a DVD or QuickTime video or whatever. Now, I want to take my project (the whole thing...all my footage, everything) and back it up to a DVD or some other storage location, so I can remove it from my 'work' hard drive. What's the best way to do this, since all the bits and pieces of this project are kind of spread out all over the hard drive in different folders? Is there a process, or is it a matter of manually copying from each of the folders FCP creates onto my backup medi?

    One more question, and this is kind of subjective. Just out of curiosity, how long do you all usually keep stuff like this? Once a job is "done," do you usually keep all of your capture-scratch backed up somewhere, or do you delete that and rely on the fact that you can always go back to the original tapes if you need to re-do something? What do you keep (and for how long), and what do you delete?

    Thanks for any input you can give me!!!
     
  2. -DH macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Location:
    Nashville Tennessee
    #2
    Yes, FCP does work with files differently than iMovie. FCP is a non-destructive NLE, meaning that your original clips will not be altered; instead, new clips are created when you render any changes, filters, effects, etc. These render files can often grow larger than the original files themselves so having plenty of drive space is essential.

    The FCP project file is really just a very sophisticated database file. It keeps up with the location of all your clips, renders, effects, graphics, edits, timing, etc. That's why the project file is generally only a few megabites (or less) in size even when the finished video output is way up in the gb range. It's recommended to keep the project file on your boot drive. The boot drive will be busy running the OS, FCP and reading your project file. The drive you've assigned as FCP's "capture/scratch" drive will be busy enough reading/writing video, audio and render files.

    Keep the Autosave and any project file backups on a drive other than where your project file lives. If the your boot drive crashes, you'll have a recent Autosave or backup to work from. I'd also highly recommend regularly backing up any material that CANNOT be re-captured or re-rendered. Things like graphics, voice overs, images, etc that took many hours to create need to have backups. All video and audio clips that were captured and all renders can be recreate rather easily so they really don't need a backup as long as you keep the original tapes.


    Your folder organization for the various departments is sound. But the only thing you need in those folders is the project file. No need to keep all of the media and renders in organizational folders; FCP does that automatically based on the project file name you've assigned.

    Here's my basic setup:

    Boot Drive: contains OS, Apps, Project files (in whatever hierarchy you feel best)

    Media Drives:
    -- FCP Documents
    ---- AutoSave Vault
    ------ Project A
    ------ Project B
    ---- Audio Render Files
    ------ Project A
    ------ Project B
    ---- Capture Scratch
    ------ Project A
    ------ Project B
    ---- Render Files
    ------ Project A
    ------ Project B
    ---- Thumbnail Cache
    ---- Waveform Cache

    When you're finished with Project A, you can easily find and trash the media and renders for that project - or move them to a long term storage location for archiving if needed. Having it set up this way eliminates the need to search through several Capture Scratch and Render folders for the material you need to trash or move.

    As for archiving, I have two different methods, based on the client's needs. For ALL clients, I keep the following:
    - all original (source) tapes
    - the FCP, DVD-SP and Toast project files
    - a Master tape and DVD of the final edit
    - a CD or DVD (data) of any custom graphics or other material that I've created

    For some of my corporate clients that require routine updates/re-edits, when I'm finished with their edit, I move all clips to a FW drive used only for that client (the cost of the drive is built-in to my fees). When they're ready for their next update, I move the clips back onto my media drive, launch the FCP project file and get to work.

    -DH
     
  3. deux-ex-mak macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2007
    #3
    consolidate

    All what DH explained is the best and most common practices by professional editors.

    I would only add the consolidate option that he didn't mention.

    To consolidate a sequence -say your final cut, your project as final, means to create a copy of every single clip on it to a certain location. The option I am explaining creates a copy of each clip matching its duration in the sequence, not the duration of the original captured clip. (Beware, there is an option to actually delete the original media!)

    This can be extremely useful for long form projects. If you have say 35 hrs. footage and you want to archive the project it's going to be costly to store all this material.

    However, if you consolidate the final cut you will be able to archive the project taking only the HD space that takes the duration of your film at the specs you're working. That makes an affordable back-up added to the final master. And/or if you need to review it in the future, you could also consolidate another sequence with the best or alternative takes for example, in any case avoiding to use the original media.

    :apple::cool:
     
  4. MattG thread starter macrumors 68040

    MattG

    Joined:
    May 27, 2003
    Location:
    Fletcher, NC
  5. Mr B macrumors member

    Mr B

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    Location:
    Washington DC
    #5
    DH, where do you keep the non-digitizeable elements (graphics, music, etc.). Do you work those off of the boot drive and back up on the media drive or do you keep them on the media drive and backup elsewhere?
     
  6. MattG thread starter macrumors 68040

    MattG

    Joined:
    May 27, 2003
    Location:
    Fletcher, NC
    #6
    That sounds like something I might want to do--how is this done?
     
  7. deux-ex-mak macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2007
    #7
    consolidate

    It is in one of the main menus

    I suggest you read the manual and maybe do a test until you understand what each of the 3 options do. As I said one of them deletes the original media.


    good luck :cool:
     
  8. -DH macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Location:
    Nashville Tennessee
    #8

    Look in the manual or help files for "Media Manager." I normally don't use it since I log only the clips I intend to use. Plus, since FCP's Media Manager is often referred to as the "Media Mangler," I tend to stay away from it anyway.

    -DH

    I keep a folder on my Media drive named "Project Graphics." Inside that folder I create a folder for each project i"m currently working on and store the graphics, photos, VOs and such in there. I backup that folder's contents regularly since loosing any of those files can cost me hours or days of work.

    Trust me, when a hard drive fails, taking days worth of work with it, you learn to backup religiously.

    -DH
     
  9. deux-ex-mak macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2007
    #9
    right click

    the consolidate function is actually a right click option when you select either 1 or more clips or a sequence.

    I had to use extensively and in my experience, by clips is very reliable as long as you don't select too many in 1 go. say 10-15 would be fine, it also makes easier to check in your system that the new clips are created correctly.

    If it is to be a sequence, you may get some missing.

    So yes as DH comments indicate is not rock solid, but it will do the job if you know what you're doing.

    Ideally you don't capture garbage, or stuff you know for certain you won't use but, sometimes it makes sense to capture long clips -say 5 min, in interviews for example. So yes in a long form documentary for example the "media manager" can be useful, not only for archiving but to move or update the final cut in whichever fashion.

    Definitely do your reading until understand what you will get out of the different options.
     
  10. skimaxpower Guest

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2006
    #10
    I actually really like the Media Manager in FCP. It's a little tricky to use - definitely read the help file - but once you've got it figured out, it's wonderful.

    For those of us who aren't perfect and end up capturing way more footage than we use, it's a great way to archive the project and reduce file space at the same time.

    I like add 5 second handles to my clips when exporting out of Media Manager - just in case i want to add a transition or something later. It's fairly quick, and in the end you get a nice quality output: all your files for one project dumped into a clean and simple folder on your backup hard drive.

    If I remember correctly, you can also choose not to export your render files, saving even more space. (You can always re-render again sometime in the future.)

    Give Media Manager a try. It won't destroy your project, just create a much smaller backup.
     

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