Video & Post Workflow and Backup Strategy

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The funny thing is:  I was planning on writing about my video and photography workflow within the next few weeks (ok well months – it’s been BUSY).   I can now cross that off my calendar because my buddy Chase Jarvis just did a pretty extensive video that describes his workflow – and he did it WELL.

And you know what?   Our workflow is SCARILY SIMILAR – if not close to identical.

The only main difference?   I back everything up to LTO Tape at the end of the process and keep two copies of those tapes – one in Los Angeles, and one in New York  (kind of like Chase’s theory of making sure floods/meteors etc don’t strike the ONE location where your data is backed up.  I call it Armageddon myself and joke that if CA falls into the ocean – I’ll have some data in NY…)  I do also send my still masters to PhotoShelter for online storage as well.

One of my favorite sayings of all time is one by Bert Lance: “If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it!”

That comes into play here.   Chase – thanks for saving me the time 😉  To everyone here – check out Chase’s video and his workflow – and understand that my workflow is nearly identical.   I’ll detail some of the minor differences below after the video in case you want to get into the nitty gritty / nuances between our similar workflows.

What we use here at LAFORET | VISUALS:

Out in the field:

MacBook Pro 17″ with internal 256GB SSD.

Lexar Firewire 800 readers (stackable) as well as the USB readers that take both CF and SD cards.

For External hard drives we us – G-Tech Mini HDs – looking to upgrade to the SSD versions as soon their capacity increases a bit.   We’ve also used a variety of portable RAID solutions out there but haven’t had a chance to play with the portable G-Tech RAIDs yet.

As with Chase – we keep two copies of everything (sometimes three) AND KEEP THE DRIVES IN SEPARATE LOCATIONS – no one flies back with all of the drives in one backpack – EVER.

We also keep all of the data on our Lexar cards for as long as possible (until they need to be shot over) no matter how long… just in case!

Software:  we use Apple’s Aperture for all of our stills:  from the initial edit, to keywording, RAW conversion, basic toning and as our archive software.   We also use Adobe Photoshop CS5 for more advanced compositing.

We then use Apple Final Cut Studio’s Compressor and MPEG Streamclip for conversion of HDDSLR Footage to Apple’s ProRes format.

We also use RED’s REDCINE-X to convert the red footage to ProRes.

I am currently playing with Red Giant’s Magic Bullet Grinder Software as well to see how that flows in to all of this and to see how I can implement it.

We also use PluralEyes to sync audio and video (a review is coming out on that soon.)

We use Apple’s Final Cut Pro for all of our video editing and grading in Color.


All still material is delivered via secure web galleries to clients, and as 16-bit TIFFs on HDs or via FTP.   We’ve also been known to put stuff up on our business MobileMe account – for clients who prefer to receive a direct link that they can click on (and the files download straight to their desktops) – especially clients who don’t know how to/ or don’t want to deal with FTPs.

All video material is delivered in ProRes 422 / ProRes 422HQ / ProRes 444 – depending on the output to clients.   We also output in a number of H.264 formats for web delivery – usually through Apple’s Compressor sofware.

As with Chase all of our exported stills and video files are kept in a separate location (different RAID.)  We also create AppleTV res H.264 files for our website, and put them on our iPads and iPhones to show clients during presentations.

Back in the studio:

Very very similar to Chase’s setup.   We use Apple’s Time Machine to backup our desktops AND laptops – to HDs and 2TB Time Capsules.   The idea is – when someone opens up a laptop here -the backup starts in the background automatically.  Our desktops are always connected – and backup on a continual basis.  My rule in backup is:  if you have to think about it/ schedule it – you’ll pay for it.  Because the things always die the day before you’re skedded to do that critical backup.  So set up your system to do hourly, daily and weekly backups.

We also have Apple X-Serves here connected via fibre connections back to the MacPros.  And we have 2 racks of Apple X-RAIDS here as well.  One of the RAIDS is an XSAN that all desktops can connect to simultaneously and is perfect for editing large video files and projects.

The final step is that every day the X-RAIDS are backed up to LTO tape – on our Tandberg Data device.

Every six months or so – I first double-check that both LTO Tape backups are up to date (the backups are kept in a fire-retardant and waterproof case) I then copy everything to my Drobo Pro.   And then I delete the old data from the X-RAIDs (as the data now lives on two separate sets of LTO tape, and the Drobo Pro.)

This allows me to have my most relevant/critical date online on my super fast X-RAIDs/XSAN.  And the full video/still shoots that I no longer think I’ll need access to on two sets of LTO Tape, and LIVE on a slightly slower DROBO PRO system connected to my system via iSCSI.   I also send my TIFF files files and RAW files up to the cloud (online storage) at PhotoShelter for extra safe keeping.

And so on…and so on…

Ah the magic of workflow.  It can be so tedious and boring – until you lose incredibly valuable material.  And then you come to worship the backup gods – forever.

To read more about Chase’s workflow and specific links to the gear he uses – read here.


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