In today’s ad production world everyone is shooting in digital format. Most of that footage is stored on servers and drives from which we transcode & edit for our final product. While we know that film can last up to 100 years if properly stored, we do not know the shelf life or predictability of digital storage drives currently used. Nevertheless, we are all storing our footage in digital formats hoping that we’ll be able to retrieve those assets whenever we might need them.
This is an evolving topic right now and there are no solutions that are, as yet, universal or concrete. Most advertisers have their own policies regarding stored assets, and strategies vary as much as the products they advertise. Here are a few recommendations and strategies that will serve you well:
- An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: Planning ahead will always save you more in the long run and that’s why we recommend thinking through the life-cycle of the asset before you’ve even created it. Before deciding how to store an asset, you should ask, “What other purposes might this asset fulfill and how can we ensure that it is ready to be reused when we need it?”
- Upgrade Legacies: Changes in technology can out date your archives and cause sound and picture issues, which could render digital information useless. So you should be backing-up and upgrading your older assets to digital and newer solid-state formats. Any legacy assets that you intend to preserve should be transferred to a format that can be easily archived and accessed.
- Be Redundant: Redundancy is key when it comes to the uncharted and unpredictable shelf-life of digital cinema assets, so make sure you have several copies of the same footage stored in different locations.
- Clear it Out: Identify your “keepers” and purge what is never used, outdated, won’t be called upon again or needed for historical purposes.
- Clouds & Solids: We always recommend that advertisers utilize a cloud-based Digital Asset Management (DAM) system, but we’re also advocates for solid-state formats. So whatever is worth saving in the cloud should also be stored in a hard format as well.
- Make it a Science: There is nothing worse than trying to find an asset you know you have in storage but can’t because it’s been misplaced or mislabeled. Assets should be inventoried and archived according to naming conventions and folder structures that are standardized within your organization to ensure you can find things. Develop specific taxonomy (the science behind naming conventions) so indexing becomes consistent.
Since the technology and formats are forever changing, it’s important to stay on top of the What, Where, How and Why of protecting your assets or risk millions in production spend and the loss of valuable historical files.