How to Archive a Project

One of the most overlooked aspects in the production process is the final step… archiving and storing a project. If you haven’t yet, then you will in the future need to make a change to a project you were certain was all done. Here, I’ll walk you through a thorough process for archiving your footage and project files so that you always have to option to go back and make changes. One of the most overlooked aspects in the production process is the final step… archiving and storing a project. If you haven’t yet, then you will in the future need to make a change to a project you were certain was all done. Here, I’ll walk you through a thorough process for archiving your footage and project files so that you always have to option to go back and make changes. For this example we will list the ways to archive a video with music and dialogue, still graphics, and a fully authored DVD menu. First you should always try and retain 2 copies of the final project in its delivered format. For our example, we will make a master DVD that we will put into storage and a DVD copy that can be put onto a spindle with your other projects and kept near by. The next step is laying all of your video elements from your timeline to tape. I would suggest a more reliable tape format than MiniDV. If you can, try and master tapes to DVCAM, DVCPro, or another digital format. MiniDV will work, but it is more likely to have ‘dropout’ or some sort of digital glitch (so it might serve you well to watch the segments once they are layed to tape, to make sure they are clean). An important step, if possible, is to utilize both channels of audio (left and right) on your tape to separate both your music and your dialogue. If you put music on the left channel and dialogue on the right channel, it will be much easier to replace a Voice-Over, or change a cut of music in the future because the VO and music won’t be mixed together. At this point your completed video elements are saved, so now we must archive the elements used to build the project. From here you’ll need a CD (or in some cases a DVD) to burn the rest of your data. We will call this an Elements Disc. The first thing you’ll want to make sure you keep copies of is all of the paperwork involved with the project. Emails, contracts, invoices, notes and other important items should be kept on a disc that you can easily access. Another folder on your “Elements Disc” should contain all of the still graphics or pictures imported into the project. As you’ll see in a bit, the reason we do this is so if you ever need to rebuild your entire project, you will have all the media that the project files will try to refrence. It is also wise to put any music tracks on to your disc, so that you have access to the full unedited files. The final folder include all of the program project files from whatever editor you use. If you used Avid or FCP, there should be a neatly organized folder with your “Project Files” clearly labeled. Basically, any non-media files from your editor should be saved. This is essential if you ever try and rebuild the project within the editor. When you go back to make changes the following will happen: you will click on your project file and all of your media will be offline (obviously!), your project files include the most important data that includes notes about what media went where. The file won’t actually have the media in it (that would take up too much space), but it will know where it referenced those files. Then you will start reconnecting the still graphics and music from your Elements Disc. If titles were built within the editor, your editor should be able to regenerate them. If you labeled your tapes correctly and used timecode while digitizing, then re-digitizing the video should not be difficult. Your editor will ask for your to reconnect the media by importing a tape with a given name (this is why you should name each new tape you put into your deck or else they will all say “new tape”) into the deck. From here the editor should be able to digitize the original files and reconnect the media. So your set for editing, but you still have a few steps in the archiving process. If you use a third party compression program, you’ll want to make sure you save a copy with the correct settings. Also, you’ll want to save the program files from whatever DVD authoring program you use and any associated artwork for menus, etc. Do not save an .m2v files or large media. The point to save project files and not all of the media is that you can save yourself a lot of space and it is not difficult to regenerate or recompress files, it just takes a little time to finish. If you follow these steps, you will have a thorough way to archive your projects and put them to bed. You will be able to sleep soundly, knowing that when a client comes calling with unforseen changes, or a drive crashes you can go back and recreate your work.

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