Working in video production requires effective management of footage in order to ensure successful completion of projects. Over time, it became evident to us that proper footage management is a crucial component of what we do, and also something that takes up a considerable amount of our time.
The average project size in 2022 was 160 GB, with some reaching close to 1 TB. With multiple projects being handled annually by our production service, the amount of footage is substantial.
Our goal with this blog post is to provide clarity to our clients and collaborators about our standards and practices in managing client footage. We hope this improves your understanding of our methods.
For those short on time, here’s a brief overview and key takeaways:
- After every shoot, original RAW footage is transferred to main server and automatically backed up to the cloud
- Original RAW footage can only be accessed upon request
- Processed RAW footage is created for better manageability, reducing size and facilitating easy access for clients
- Footage used for video editing is copied from main server to portable SSD for editing
- Editing SSDs are backed up weekly/bi-weekly to main server and cloud
- Edited videos are shared with clients through Dropbox Replay for feedback and review
- Final approved video is delivered to clients via file sharing service
- Clients’ video files are not stored long-term and are deleted over time
1. File storage and backup of the “original RAW footage”
After every shoot, the first step we take is to transfer all footage from cameras and audio recording devices onto our main server.
For each project, we create a separate folder, organised by month, to store all the original, unprocessed footage captured by the cameras. This footage, also known as the “original RAW footage” is stored as uncompressed as possible, considering each camera’s unique compression type.
The original RAW footage is also automatically backed up to the cloud through a reliable external service, BackBlaze. This secondary backup ensures that in the event of any issue with our main server, we can quickly access a copy of the footage, either through downloading or by requesting a hard drive from BackBlaze.
As outlined in our terms of service and procedures, which our clients receive upon signing up for our services, access to the original RAW footage is provided only upon request as an additional option. Due to the size of the footage, transferring it via the cloud is not feasible. If you are interested in accessing the uncompressed footage, simply let us know and we will arrange for the delivery of a hard drive to you, with a nominal fee.
2. Processed RAW footage creation and delivery
To make the original RAW footage more manageable, especially for our clients, we undergo a compression process to reduce its size. This is essential as most computers, unless they are modern and powerful, struggle with handling uncompressed RAW footage. Our original RAW footage is often captured in 4K with high bit depth and chroma subsampling, making it not only extremely large, but also difficult for our clients to review. The footage would likely stutter during playback, rendering it impossible to review, unless you have a powerful computer.
This is why we create a processed version of the original RAW footage, referred to as “processed RAW footage”. While it is true that the quality of the processed footage may be slightly lower than the original, the difference is often not noticeable to the naked eye. The processed RAW footage still maintains a high level of quality while being more manageable in terms of size and playback.
Let’s illustrate the difference with a real-life example. On a recent shoot, the original RAW footage was a massive 160GB. After our compression process, the respective processed RAW footage was a much more manageable 22GB. This reduction in size makes a significant difference in terms of storage and transfer times, making it easier for our clients to review and work with the footage.
After the processed RAW footage is ready, we make it easily accessible to our clients by uploading it to a secure sharing platform, such as Dropbox. We then share a private link with our clients, allowing them to view and download the footage at their convenience. We encourage our clients to download the processed RAW footage within two weeks of delivery.
RECOMMENDED BEST PRACTICES FOR OUR CLIENTS
We recommend clients to promptly download their raw footage from us and store it securely. The size of the footage may vary depending on the shoot, but a half-day shoot with one camera can result in approximately 20GB of processed raw footage. Consider purchasing a hard drive to store the files, and keeping a backup in a separate location or on the cloud for extra protection.
3. Video editing
Once the video editing project starts, the footage is copied from the main server to a portable SSD, so we can edit it from any device, even when on the go. For our remote editors, the footage is sent via cloud, and they typically download the same footage as our clients.
Whether we work with the original raw footage or processed raw footage depends on the project. Typically, the processed raw footage is sufficient for editing because it enables fast transfers from the main server to the editing SSD or via cloud to remote editors and collaborators. The processed raw footage retains high enough quality to not affect the final outcome of the video editing project anyway.
Upon completion of the video editing project, the entire project and footage files are removed from the editing portable SSD and moved back to the main server, stored in a different location called “finished projects”. At this point, there are three copies of the same footage on the main server:
- The original raw footage in the RAW media backup folder
- The processed raw footage, also in the RAW media backup folder
- The footage used for editing, stored in the editing project file in the “finished projects” folder
At this point, we safely delete the second bullet point (the processed raw footage in the RAW media backup folder), as we don’t need a duplicate copy.
4. Editing SSDs backup
To ensure the safety of the editing process, which could take weeks or months, we backup the editing SSDs weekly or bi-weekly to a separate location in the main server. This prevents the loss of work in case of SSD failure. The backup in the main server is also automatically backed up to the cloud via our BackBlaze service for added security.
5. Edited videos: revisions and delivery
To efficiently share edited videos with clients, we use Dropbox Replay. This service enables clients to review the video and provide feedback by leaving comments and notes without needing a Dropbox account. Dropbox Replay is accessible on both desktop and mobile devices, making it an effective way to receive feedback from clients on video editing projects.
This platform also allows our clients to view the edited video in its intended aspect ratio, ensuring an accurate representation of the final product. Whether it’s a vertical 1080×1920 video for a social media campaign or a different aspect ratio, Dropbox Replay will adapt accordingly, without the presence of distracting black bars.
Once the video is finalized and approved, it will be delivered to our clients via a file sharing service such as Dropbox or Google Drive, with a 14-day download period.
6. Project directory and file management
To efficiently manage every shoot and project, we maintain a comprehensive directory listing all of our projects, video productions, shots, and editing work. Each entry in the directory includes detailed information on the location of the footage and its copies, allowing us to easily track the movement and status of each piece of footage throughout the entire production process. By consistently updating the directory each time we move or create a copy of the footage, we ensure a well-organised and streamlined workflow.
7. Footage deletion
As per our Terms of Service, we do not offer long-term storage for clients’ video files due to their large size. While we may choose to retain certain projects indefinitely, the general agreement with clients is that both original and processed raw footage will be deleted after 90 days, or slightly longer in some cases.
Before deletion, we will notify clients and provide them the opportunity to obtain a copy of the footage. Please note that once deleted, recovery is not possible.
8. Copyright and usage
As outlined in our Terms of Service, we reserve the right to utilise footage we create for clients in our marketing efforts. This includes repurposing raw footage into showreels and showcasing finished edited videos on our website, social media channels, and YouTube channel as examples of our work to potential clients.
Effective footage management is an integral part of our video production process. Our goal is to ensure that every project we work on is properly organised and safeguarded from start to finish.
We have implemented a system of backup and storage that keeps the footage secure and easily accessible, and we have also streamlined the editing and review process to make it more efficient and effective.
By putting the time and effort into managing the footage properly, we can ensure that our clients receive the best possible end product, and that their projects are in safe hands.