File Management for Large Video Production Crews

Large Video Production Crew File Management

We started this SFilms165 series on File Management for video production crews to do our part to stamp out horror stories of lost/missing footage from the video and film sets.  Yes, it’s happened to us.  In several different ways with different results.  Make sure you watch/read the Intro to File Management before watching this one.  Also, you can read Small Crew File Management here.  

The Large Video Production Crews

First let’s define large crew: Greater than 4 crew people.  This is a set that has many moving pieces and many crew people doing very specific tasked jobs.  In corporate video, it’s a little more rare to see large crews, but in commercial production, feature film making, and television, you can very easily have large crews.  Commercials can have 30 or more depending on the scope.  Feature films can easily have over a hundred, again depending on the scope.  Even a low budget feature film might have 30 or more crew people.

With a crew of 5 or more, chances are, File Management is your single duty.  And this is a good thing.. You can’t afford to get distracted and mess up your transfers.  On one of our feature films (the first one that wasn’t shot on film and was shot on digital), we actually had two file management crew people.  You might even be given the tile, duties and responsibilities of the DIT.  This means you not only do file management, but you’re responsible for the images on the set.  Dailies, one pass looks, etc.

The File Management System

file management video eventWe put forward the following system– you don’t have to do it at your shop, but have a system.  Cards, files and footage get lost and destroyed because a system isn’t in place or doesn’t get followed.

The File Manager will work with the Camera Assistant.. Make sure he or she is using a paper tape system—when a card goes into the camera, a piece of tape is marked with the letter of the camera and the card number. For instance, the first camera of the production gets “A” and the first card is zero one.. If a second camera is used, it becomes B and it’s first card is zero one, even if several cards have already gone through A camera.

Set up two open boxes for incoming and outgoing cards.. Go over the system with the camera assistant so that she’ll know where to drop off cards and where to pick up cards.. Make sure she tapes over the card contacts with the tape indicating the camera and card number before bringing it to you.

Hedge Your Bets

Use Hedge to transfer the card to your two hard drives.  If you don’t use Hedge, use another file management app.  Keep a good log of the cards you transfer.  When finished with the card, and verified that the data was completely copied, you can put the tape back onto the card, but not over the contacts and place it in your outgoing box.  The camera assistant can pick up cards to go back to camera from this box.  Make sure she knows that the tape back on the card, but not over the contacts is free to reformat.

The System

Make your system—use your system.  Problems that occur are almost always because the File Manager did NOT follow the system.  And problems at this level are cataclysmic.  Don’t be that guy.  Follow your system and you’ll do fine.