How to work efficiently and constantly backed up.
Updated: Mar 19, 2020
This article takes on how to work efficiently and safely with almost any type of project at no or a very low cost.
Most of us have difficulties to work in a structured way. We always try to cut corners and happily skips everything that takes an extra second. This might save you some time initially but you will regret it when you have to go back a few weeks later to fix something. Finding the right project or master file can then be very time consuming without a clear folder structure and file naming strategy. This short article will give you insight into how I work with audio and video projects. You will probably be able to use the basics on almost any type of project.
When starting a project it’s important to have a good folder and naming structure.
I use this simple but effective folder structure:
PROJECTS - I have all my customer projects in one main catalog.
CUSTOMER - Simply the customer's name. For example “Modul Sthlm”.
PROJECT - Project name used in the client contact. Preferably also date created for easy overview when going back for older projects.
IN - Use this for all incoming files to your project. It could be film clips, audio, scripts, etc.
OUT - All outgoing files such as previews, master files, etc delivered to the customer. Most cloud-based services also allow you to share files directly with your customers from folders. Note! When working with Voicemachine all files shall be uploaded in the Voicemachine web app and not sent directly to the customer but working like this is still a good idea.
WORK - Set this folder to your working catalog for your DAW, NLE or other program used in your project.
On a Mac it could look like this:
Note! Use subfolders in catalogs when necessary for even better organization. For example, you could have separate folders for Final masters and Drafts in the OUT folder. If you have lots of projects it could also be a good idea to have a main folder per year under projects.
Be consequent when nameing files. Filenames should be as short as possible without becoming impossible to understand. Very long filenames can cause sync problems in services like Dropbox. Never exceed 255 characters including the search path.
You should avoid the following characters in a filename for full compatibility:
/ \ : * ? " < > |
Note! . (period) or a space at the end of a file or folder name is not allowed in Windows.
Mac users only have to avoid the : (colon) but still there are far more Windows systems out there and services like Dropbox also have limitations on what characters to use in a filename.
How you choose to name your files is up to you but being consequent in naming and use easy to understand naming is the key to successful file handling.
I use the following method for voice-over audio projects.
Cubase Project files:
Example: 191002 Finago radio commercial v1.cpr
Wav Audio files:
YYMMDD_project name_file description
Example: 191020 Finago radio commercial VO master.wav
Note! Underscore “_” is not needed anymore. It used to replace “space” in older systems.
You should always work with back up. Sooner or later a disk will crash or something else will happen that causes loss of data. By working locally with a cloud back up such as Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive or similar service mirroring your projects you will always be protected. I have worked with Dropbox in larger organizations and it worked great. I also use iCloud Drive for backing up my Macbook projects that very often are created in a hurry on the desktop. By having my iCloud Drive backing up my desktop I’m always backed up. What service you use is up to you and your needs but use one.
It will save you lots of trouble the day something goes wrong. Then, just log in from your new setup or another computer and have full access to all your files again!