Tapeless Workflow And Backup Strategies for Video Production

Creating a consistent tapeless workflow that is fast, efficient and secure is important to your business.

Start right by using a reputable name memory card either a 16 or 32 Gig SDHC card with an appropriate class rating for your camera or audio device. Format the card with the same camera or audio device that will be using this card. Do not format the card in your computer. Formatting should only take a few seconds. Then number each card and it’s ready for recording.

When the recording is done, put the card in a card case. These cases are a good investment at $10 or so. Store the used cards upside down in the case. Store the blank cards right-side up. Don’t put these cards in your pocket.

When you remove a card from the camera, always slide the write-protect tab so you can’t accidentally record over it. Don’t modify ANY of the files on this card.

We recommend copying a card to three separate hard drives, at least two of which are external to the computer. When the computer crashes, you will be grateful for external drives. Alternately, you could make the third copy onto Blu-ray discs.

Don’t use the camera to transfer footage to the computer. Use a separate card reader or adapter. They’re faster and more efficient. Before putting the card in the card reader, make sure the write-protect tab is in the protect position because some computers try to write hidden files to any storage device you attach. These hidden files can cause trouble in some systems.

Setup a folder with the date and the job name on each hard drive. Create subfolders within this master folder for each card. For example, the first card would be A1, then A2, A3, etc.

If you shoot with a second camera, create a B1 folder for the first card from that camera, then B2 and so on.

Make an audio folder for external audio recorders. Within that folder create a subfolder for each audio recorder. Name subfolders for the person or scene they are recording.

Copy the entire contents of the first card over to the corresponding folder on the hard drive. Once the copy process is complete, click properties and check the size of the card and compare it to the size of the corresponding folder on your hard drive to confirm the copy process has copied everything. You might also do some test edits, just to be on the safe side.

Repeat this process for every card. It is very important to copy the files from the card to the hard drive rather than from one hard drive to a second or third hard drive. If there was an error on the original hard drive, that error would be repeated on the backup hard drive. So always copy from the card to the hard drive.

When you have three backups in place, confirm that all cards have been completely backed up. Now you can delete the files on the card by performing a format on the card with the camera or audio device.

When you delete footage from a card and record new footage over it, it is impossible to get back those deleted files. If you delete something by mistake, stop recording immediately. There is recovery software for both Mac and Windows that can recover footage that has been deleted if it has not been recorded over.

Following this simple, yet effective tapeless workflow will protect not only your reputation but your sanity as well.

Transferring ginormous files is just a part of being in the video business. So you’ll want to have a stack of portable hard drives and you’ll also want to be familiar with the websites that are dedicated to helping folks easily transfer large files.

These include DropBox, YouSendIt, TransferBigFiles, LargeFilesAsap, Wistia, SugarSync, WeTransfer, and others. This list changes frequently.

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6 thoughts on “Tapeless Workflow And Backup Strategies for Video Production

  1. Bruno Marsala

    Great article! Just a little plug for another company not mentioned. Being a busy studio and video production outfit in Toronto, we too transfer a lot of files and the tried and true tested service we like that makes transfer and sharing with clients is FilesAnywhere.com they have been great. Also we don’t have any issues with corporate firewalls and their built in preview options really help to for images and audio files as well. They have a great easy to use app as well.


  2. Paulo

    Muito bom.

    Eu faço uma cópia no HD do computador e uma outra no disco externo, este é o meu backup.

    O artigo demostra a cuidado extremo e isso é muito bom.

    Parabéns pelo texto.

  3. Gino

    Great article.

    I record music shows, I use 2 cameras, one uses tape the other uses a card. The tape I capture in Vegas in realtime. I transfer the video on the card using the camera, it is quick and the Sony camera comes with nice software to transfer the video. I use the sound from the two camera just for ambiance. I record audio direct from the mixer on an Alesis HD 24 digital recorder. I use a firewire port to transfer it to a computer, the system is flowless.

    Now I would like to upgrade to windows 8 so I can use the latest version of Vegas and Sonar to edit, but I can’t. Alesis has decided not to support windows 8. Other sites that offer downloads for windows only go up to windows 7, 32 bit.

    Now if I want to use this great recorder, I have two choices: keep my old computer which runs on xp, just for file transfer, or transfer the files in real time without the fireport, this is going to take forevere.

    I know someone will say why not record direct to a laptop? I tried it in the past, but computers crash, the last thing I need is to worry about a computer crashing while recording a live show.

    I record about 8 tracks at the same time. If someone has some ideas pleas let me know


  4. Hal

    Hi Gino,

    Why not get a computer with Windows 7? I don’t know if your XP computer could be upgraded that far, but you can certainly buy a newer one and install 7 on it.


  5. DSLR Video Studio

    Some great tips also cards should be labelled or numbered as you mentioned, very easy to keep track of them and you can tell which ones are missing or faulty quickly.

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