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Storage vs. Changes

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EvolutionStorage vs. Changes
by on Aug 17, 2007 at 1:16:34 pm

I'm sure there are other threads on this, but the Pet Peeves thread got me thinking, and with advances in storage abilities and dropping costs , I figured I'd throw it out there.

What is your procedure for archiving projects and how do you charge or not charge for it?

If you're backing up to portable drives does the client pay for the drives and the time to back-up?Do you archive the project and then charge for time if you need to re-build? If you're working on flat rate do you build in for this? If you invest in an efficient but costly back-up DLT for instance, do you build in costs for that or just call it a cost of doing business?

We have a 2.5 and a 3.5 X-Serve and working uncompressed there's still never enough space for anything too long term. We have always backed-up project files and GRFX files but not source. We have had several large projects that we have had the client buy portable drives and pay for the time to back-up. We often give them the drives as well so they are responsible for them. We see it as a service to them if they think there are any chances of revisions down the road, since it would save money in the end.

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David Roth WeissRe: Storage vs. Changes
by on Aug 17, 2007 at 3:09:24 pm

In my opinion, backups and archiving have pretty much become a no-brainer these days. With really good 500gb hard drives available for only $110 ( there's no good reason to use anything else. I think tape backup is a huge waste of time, especially as it entails additional software to make use of the media which is usually recorded as a proprietary or non-native file type.

The setup I use makes the process of archiving to hard drive(s) easy as pie. In addition to my primary 4-bay SATA array that I use for editing, I have an additional 2-bay hotswappable SATA array that, depending on the size of the project, allows me to backup to either single drives or two drives stripped together. So far, 1Tb has been sufficient, even for backing up some pretty big documentaries, but I now have the option to stripe two 1Tb drives together if needed. Another benefit of using SATA is that, depending on the format we're using, most of the time I can make revisions right off the backups without moving the media onto my main array. Thats a huge timesaver.

I simply sell my clients the same hard drives I use in my hotswap array, with a small surcharge added, and I charge them by the hour for the time it takes to backup all the necessary files. They own the drives and they can either take them away or leave them with me.


David Roth Weiss
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles


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Todd at Fantastic PlasticRe: Storage vs. Changes
by on Aug 17, 2007 at 6:17:26 pm

We archive everything including source files, and typically do not charge clients for archival (although we probably should... this post now has me thinking about it).

One of the advantages we have, is that most of our work is NTSC broadcast commercials so our project sizes aren't gigantic compared to some of you guys... we live in the :30 world. If a project's acquisition format is 35mm then the project is even smaller since when I shoot film I'm even stingier with shooting. Typically we have been just burning archival discs... our projects usually don't fill up a data DVD... and rarely if ever more than 2 or 3.

However, we realized about 6 months ago that we were spending too much time burning discs, and so went to harddrive archival. I just bought two plain 'ol Seagate 750GB drives, and when my editor or me (if I'm the cutter) finishs a project we just drag a copy of it to each drive. When those are full, we just put them on the shelf and whip down to Best Buy and pick up two more (they are so dirt cheap now). These drives are directly attached via firewire to the computer in one of our suites. If we want to archive from one of the other suites, we just drag the files to those drives via the network. That way is kind of slow, but our projects aren't that huge and we are not in that big of a hurry anyway... we just do it at the end of the day, let it start cookin, and go home.

Our projects are small enough that we can get a fair number of them backed up on a 750GB drive, so we don't "sell" a client the drive or dedicate a single particular drive to a singular project. So far we haven't dedicated a single drive to a single project, so we always keep the drives in house. As I said, we haven't charged for this service as of yet... storage is so cheap that it would be such a tiny part of a project's total budget, we just eat it as the cost of doing business.

I know that's a pretty low tech way of doing things... we don't use any kind of fancy schmantzy automated backup system or anything. It's low-brow but it works for us.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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beenyweeniesRe: Storage vs. Changes
by on Aug 17, 2007 at 6:53:04 pm

My studio archives projects and associated media for 6 months for free, as part of our service. These archives do not include final output files (such as master Quicktime files etc.) but it does include all source media (video captures, After Effects renders etc.). After 6 months source media are deleted but all project files are kept for 2 years.

We too face the endless crunch of storage needs, but we generally back up to external drives because they are so cheap. This way we can get the media off of our central storage and free up space for current projects. With most projects we also back up to data DVDs and take those off-site for protection against disasters. We don't use tape backup (though that will change soon) simply for economic reasons, but it is highly recommended.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

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Marco SolorioRe: Storage vs. Changes
by on Aug 17, 2007 at 9:04:55 pm

We used to charge for the archival of projects, but since the dawn of cheap drives (exactly as David mentions above), we've just included it in our added-value services. Not only can we go back to a project later on if we need to revisit it, it's also nice just for us in case we need to pull something out of an old project for a demo piece or something.

And I also agree... death to tape archiving. At a hundred bucks a pop for a 500 GB drive on any system, it's just a no-brainer. We archive it and we put the drive away. It's not used in any real production for it to get worn down.

If a client is spending five figures on a project with us, I think we can sacrifice $100 on an archive drive! We can usually fit several projects on a single drive, so realistically, we're talking about $5 to $30 per project to count towards the purchase of that drive. So even a low budget project will get placed on the archive drives. It costs us practically nothing and the clients love that we have their old projects on tap for them.

Marco Solorio | CreativeCow Host | OneRiver Media | Codec Resource Site | Cinesoft | Media Batch

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Rich RubaschRe: Storage vs. Changes
by on Aug 17, 2007 at 10:47:09 pm

Hmmm...sounds like we are all talking about backing up the files. We backup the project files, graphics and pre-renders etc, including most but not all of the actual media to a hard drive. We also back up the project files without the big media files to a DVD. If it is short form, we include a DVD if we authored one for the project in the backups. This way we have two copies of both critical project files. And since I don't really trust hard drives for critical backups, we make the DVD data backups too.

We use hot swappable 250 gig SATA drives. We might move to the 500s soon. Also, we are primarily a SD shop so we don't have a ton of HD rez footage to backup, and we use DVCPro50 and DVCPro HD codecs for our projects.

We also archive the final edited program to DVCAM tape. Many times we can simply do a 5 minute upload of the show to make a change etc. Rarely does it require a full media restore.

We do not charge for backups per se but we do charge for time restoring the project and add about a half hour of our "Prep Time" rate to every invoice for doing the backups and covering media costs. I would rather roll items like backups into our service rates than line-iteming them on the invoice.

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zrb123Re: Storage vs. Changes
by on Aug 17, 2007 at 11:37:30 pm

Even if you do back up oh a hard drive, would still back up the project, graphic files, music and other small assets, to a CD/DVD.

You would hate to go to a backup and find the the drive is toast. At least with a project file & small asset back up you can recapture and go from there.

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Marco SolorioRe: Storage vs. Changes
by on Aug 17, 2007 at 11:40:04 pm

[zrb123] "Even if you do back up oh a hard drive, would still back up the project, graphic files, music and other small assets, to a CD/DVD."

Absoutely. We do this as well which I didn't mention. We have those 400-disk binders to hold the DVD disks. It's sort of our "redundant" backup for the archive, LOL.

Marco Solorio | CreativeCow Host | OneRiver Media | Codec Resource Site | Cinesoft | Media Batch

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Mike CohenRe: Storage vs. Changes
by on Aug 20, 2007 at 12:32:52 am

Our projects are either products that we develop and sell, or projects that we do for outside clients. In either case, as the others have stated, we all keep a stack of SATA drives on a shelf, so when a project is done, that drive goes on a shelf. I too backup the non-video files of a project to another drive - what are the chances both drives will fail? I guess there is a chance.
For products, we make a DV or DVCPRO master, and also render out an AVI of the completed video, which is stored on the original hard drive, as well as in our library, so we have minimum 2 AVI copies. In the case of a DVD project, the ISO file and the Encore project files are on the project drive, and the DVD duplication master is in a binder. Push comes to shove, you can rebuild a DVD from the VOB files, which I have done in a pinch.

Mike Cohen

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MargusRe: Storage vs. Changes
by on Aug 28, 2007 at 8:17:46 am


We also make 2x hdd copy's on sata with all the project files.
Before making back up i make mjpg files out of original uncompressed. It saves space and is later accessible as original would be.

Generally we do not charge for that but when client orders changes then charge is a part of total cost.
Other way to charge is when we make tapes dvd etc. from hdd copy.
Generally it may take up to 1 hour to make those copy's so
now i started to make one hour flat cost + tapes.



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