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Organizational structure is what enables you to fly. A pianist knows where every key is and has practiced hitting it countless times before performing. As an editor, your notes are unique, new, and ever-changing. Knowing what you have, where to find it, and how to protect it are essential skills for students and professionals alike. Part of working with Final Cut or Media Composer is setting up your processes so they flow effortlessly. This way when you're editing, you can stay calm and in the moment and concentrate on your subject matter instead of stressing over a file location.
To facilitate this, here is a three- point strategy that I use regardless of whether I'm working in Final Cut or Media Composer. First off, protect media and protect data. Second, organize media and the project data into a single place with a standardized structure. And third, be able to back up archive and easily restore your project and media. When it comes time to begin editing, I'll have every scrap of material from the shoot available and I'll know just where to find it.
There is nothing mysterious or difficult about managing media and project assets. I'm going to take you through the method that I use right now. Even if you have your own method I think the comparisons and concepts covered will be useful. This method will work well for students, news and journalism crews, or indeed anyone who needs their materials to be stored in a project-centric, portable, and secure manner. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to hide Media Composer for a moment and go back to the desktop, because on the desktop we can access our media drive where we have all of our assets.
Let's open that up and have a look at the structure. Here I have the catalyst_CONTAINER and you can see that inside that I have various folders, some for projects, for outputs, for source camera files, for source graphics, and so on. Up at the top I have another folder called catalyst_Avid_MediaFiles. This is where I would store my actual Avid MediaFiles that are currently on the root of my hard drive when I'm finished working with this project. That way when I select this folder later on, it would contain absolutely everything that I need to back up or archive my project.
One thing I'd like to point out is that Avid projects, as we've seen, are frame rate specific. However, the container structure here is frame rate agnostic. What I mean by that is if we come to the catalyst Source Camera folder, for example, you can see that I've separated my assets according to that frame rate. So here are the assets which are at 59.94 and here are the assets which are at 23.976. I would also separate on the outputs side too.
I don't want to mix up interlaced with progressive outputs. Now, I'd like to make a point here. This little structure is really the engine of your project. This is where you are placing the seeds and organizing material and those organizational strategies will flow through your entire workflow. I like to get this right, right from the beginning of my project. I suggest that you think about how you can organize your assets in a similar way to facilitate a smoother workflow for yourself.
Another thing I'd like to point out is that when we're receiving source files it's always best practice to use a file transfer application. In this case, I would suggest using ShotPut Pro. What this does is it allows you to browse out to the location of incoming media and then specify where you would like to put that incoming media. The advantage of using an application like ShotPut Pro over just dragging and dropping files on the desktop level is that ShotPut Pro will do a CRC checksum and look at your source file and the destination file and compare them.
If an error occurs during copying, it will let you know, unlike the OS, which can sometimes drop packets and not even mention it to you. Okay, finally I'd like to go back to the media drive and just call out the fact that the Avid MediaFiles folder is the managed media location. If I change the name of this folder or if I move its location, then my media inside Avid will go offline. With FCP the managed media location is the scratch disk and the same would be true if I moved it or renamed it then I would lose the links between my clips in my project and the actual media that I'm trying to reference.
In conclusion then, even if you work in a different way from what I've just outlined, I hope the concepts we covered were useful. Certainly, it's highly recommended to have a predictable location for all the source media and project files used on any production and a strategy for backing up or ultimately archiving your projects. Certainly, if we're only going to rely on a spinning disk such as a FireWire or USB drive, then we could be headed for trouble. These drives are guaranteed to file at some point or another.
So you want to have to think about how you might either back up the results of all of your work and media to a second drive that you could leave on the shelf or perhaps explore other alternatives for archiving your media such as LTO-5 or DLT.
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