Monday, August 13, 2012

Post Production Workflow: Output From Edit System

Archiving your digital elements is the final step in the post production workflow.
An analog film archive.
Throughout the digital post-production workflow, we’ve taken the care to make sure that the organization of our digital video was optimal from the early stage of input through editing. Now it’s time to prepare the media for saving into an archive system and to make space for new projects on our local storage. This is especially important for clips that can be used on any future projects.
This week we’ll be discussing the best practices for outputting your video. When I say outputting, I’m talking about saving your video for archiving, and not the format for distribution. The output for distribution depends more on the needs of your client or end-user, so we won’t be discussing that here. We discussed that in greater detail in our "Encoding Video for Web Deployment and Archive" blog. The goal of the output for archive is to do our best to maintain the highest quality and to try to guarantee that it will be a usable format in the future.

Archiving of your video involves saving the final sequence as a single video file, as well as saving all of the source files used to create that sequence.

When saving the sources, I am of the school of thought to save the clips used in their entirety rather than truncated versions of those clips. This is a personal preference. There is nothing wrong with consolidating your sequence before archiving, but I prefer the added flexibility of archiving the original full-length clip.

In some cases it might be a good idea to save the final video in two forms: the same format as the original sequence and, if the original format is proprietary, in a generic format as well. A lossless compression codec such as the Animation codec, keeps a version that is available to all editing systems.

After you’ve collected both your source files and sequence file(s), it’s time to put everything into your archive system. At this stage it's important to add the metadata about the project so that the elements can be easily found in the future. I generally include the Project Name, Client Name, Producer and any other information that can help in a search.

If you are at a facility and use shared storage, put any generic clips such as sound effects in a common partition that is available to all to use. You've done the acquisition of these elements, why not make them available to everyone. A lot of time can be wasted by starting from scratch gathering generic files that are repeatedly used in projects - keeping those files online and available, increases the efficiency of all components of the post production workflow.


  1. If your project/material is important or may be needed again in the future and if you can you should make two back-ups and keep them in seporate buildings so if something happens to one the other should survive. I had a client had flood in his warehouse and lost everything luckly I still had quite a lot of old project archived and was able to re-provide them for him. my personal view is you should keep all projects for at least 6 months after that if client wants you to keep it you should charge them, I would be interested in others views on this.

    1. Absolutely, geographic redundancy for your archive backup is the optimal solution for guaranteeing that no data is ever lost.

      I agree with your policy on long-term archive storage, if I'm handling the whole project, rather than just acting as a freelance editor, the terms and conditions I give to the client spell out the data restoration policy and gives them an option (for a fee) to extend the period of time in which the data is kept. I've rarely had a client take me up on the extended archive (kind of like an extended warranty), but it makes them aware of how long the data will be kept.