As output files get bigger and bigger in our cameras, the issue we often are confronted with is how to successfully manage all the data.

Some times, at the end of a large job, I am flabbergasted with the shear volume of files that we have to deal with.  It seems like a never ending cycle… A new camera comes out.  The files are bigger so we need larger storage devices… in turn we purchase the “latest and greatest” CF cards… 4gig, 8gig, 16gig, 32gig, and now, 64’s…. Ugh…  Its like a big joke.  The simple question is, how to we deal with all the cards?

A long time ago, we implemented a management system that seems to have stood the test of time, so we use it pretty religiously.  It’s  simple (perhaps a bit anal,) but works very well.

We love love love to label things.  The P-Touch probably gets the most use out of any office item in the studio.  This started for me back in LA when I worked as a camera assistant on large film sets.  The guys I worked under were real “type A’s.”  Totally organized.

In the beginning, I thought this was just too much, but after all these years of working on location, I am really thankful that I was trained by such anal mentors.

When a new CF comes into the the mix, it gets labeled.  Photo cards get one label, and video get another.  VID-1, VID-2, Photo-1, Photo-2 etc…  We label the front of the card with its size.  64gb, 32gb, etc…  The lower number card, the higher the gig size.  (I know if I see Vid-1, that it will be a 64gig card.)

The back of the card also gets a label.  In yellow, and in large letters we affix the word “Full.”  In smaller letters, we put my name, phone number, and “reward if found.”

All of our cards ride in Gepe cases, which do an amazing job at protecting the little buggers (even water proof!)  We use different colors for each type.  Yellow is video, Grey is Photo, Red is exposed, or full cards.  When a card is empty, or “unexposed,” it sits in the Gepe case with the card in the “Up” position.  (number facing up.)

P-Touch from Brother

Because the D3s can now shoot two cards at once, we set the camera set to “mirror.”  In other words, when an image is written to a card, a clone is simultaneously written to the other, creating a redundant backup.

When the card set is full or “exposed,” we remove the card and place it in the Gepe case face down showing the yellow “Full” tag.  This gives us a really quick way to see what is available and what is not.

Nikon D3s has two CF slots for redundancy or overflow

The last, and what I consider the most important step is to separate the cards.  Because there are now two copies of the data (one on each of the mirrored cards) it doesnt make sense to put them back into the same Gepe case.  What if the case was lost?  Stolen?  For further “safety,” we split the cases up into two places.  Usually, I keep one in my, or the assistant’s pocket, and the other goes into the camera case.  This way, no matter what happens, loss, theft, flood, stampede,  we still are able to deliver the images to the client.