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When it comes to sound design and audio for film, I will not hesitate to admit that I define "rookie". My keyboard is shiny, and my headphone cable still coils properly!

Curious to get feedback on the concept of project archiving. What do you keep? How long do you keep it? Naming conventions? In-session (DAW) techniques for archiving and/or returning to the project (Track active state, clip groups, etc, etc)....

What do you do!?

With only a few major projects under my belt, I'm trying to establish a system that I can use going forward that will be repeatable, straight-forward, and practical. Space is not an issue.

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I keep everything, usually doing a final Saveout of all my sessions for Backup which has everything neat and tidy (because sometimes there's a lot of scattered saveout seession files for Reel deliveries and such.

Each show has it's own master folder on my drive so I archive that (thus including OMF, spotting notes, sessions, etc). I'll usually do a quick cleanup of un-needed bits like temp prints of design samples for approval etc. Pix is on a third drive for me, following the same master folder scheme, so I archive latest pix too (and older versions if necessary).

If I was just contracted to do a part of a show, like sound design or sound effects editorial (and thus I don't have extra materials), I'll do the final Saveout of the edit session (making sure any and all Stage Addz/Replaces are living in that session, so that saveout is a sort of "final snapshot" of what was shipped to the stage). Usually I'll always leave the guide track living in this saveout, since more often than not I'm having to make volume tweaks and little edits here and there so the guide's not distracting as I work through a show. That way if you have to load up the show again down the road, you can simply open it and you're up and running.

I recommend to always archive, and keep the material on your active work drive until the printmastering is finished - god only knows how many times we receive a call at the 11th hour for some sort of Addz either due to late VFX or a clients request, so if you have to switch over to that show at a moments notice, best to have it nearby and not packed up with a pretty bow just yet.

Archiving is definitely a must, or rather, an investment in future job security - if not for running into a situation where the material is needed years down the road, but also as a good practice of organizational and data management skills.

And sometimes, it's nice to know where maybe you built something unique a few shows ago and know exactly where to snag the source edits from archive to save time. I've found that helpful, especially for a cigarette/candle 'smoke trail' design I made a while back. Constantly grabbing that saveout of the source edits, huge time saver.

  • This is the best advice possible. I'm kicking myself for not keeping a lot of my old music originals. Now I'm positively neurotic about keeping every little thing around. Even all my initial edit sessions. Also, and this should go without saying, keep redundant backups of all of it. Just because it's on a rarely used drive, doesn't make it safe. – Kris Griffin Mar 23 '12 at 1:38
  • Great stuff! This is exactly what I was interested in.... The "Master folder" especially.....I've also tried to use a consistent folder hierarchy (even creating a folder structure template that I can duplicate and rename as needed) Thanks for your input! – Audiophile.2010 Mar 23 '12 at 23:29
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    As Dave Yewdall said in his book, and what resonated with me, is what he more or less called "The Heart Attack Situation" As cruel as it sounds, if you keeled over and died mid-show, somebody would have to step in and finish the work. So, your organization better be precise enough that if somebody actually had to do this (and isn't familiar with you or your workflow), they could 'decode' your organization method and know where to find everything within a few minutes of sitting down with your drive. I try to take that approach/question every time. – Stavrosound Mar 24 '12 at 0:36
  • Absolutely. Quite true. – Audiophile.2010 Mar 24 '12 at 17:05
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I was asked for a copy of my sound report 2 years after I finished working on a film. TWO YEARS! I don't have an answer for you unfortunately as that's the only feature film I worked on and I do mostly post production now.

  • Yikes. Although if it was a low budget indie, i can imagine they took 2 years to cut it. – Roger Middenway Mar 23 '12 at 19:32
  • Aye, Roger. It was a low budget indie film. – Hubert Campbell Mar 31 '12 at 15:40
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I try to keep everything. At my day job I pretty much have to. A client may come back five years later and want to revise a project.

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