One of the things that emerged as an early challenge for me has been managing the massive volume of drone media I’ve created since I first started flying my own video drones (as opposed to Uncle Sam’s drones) back in 2013.  I’m somewhat of a digital pack rat, so I still have all those early shaky-cam flight videos.  I have no idea why.  My collection of drone video now sits at about 7TB.

After a lot of thought and research in the hallowed halls of the University of YouTube, I started a system that has worked even as Talon Six’s business has exploded. Before I get into this, lemme describe my setup.  My primary editing computer has an onboard 1TB solid state drive.  The computer is connected to two RAID drives, one 10TB “Past Projects” drive and one 8TB “Archive Drive”.  I also have a very, very fast 1TB Thunderbolt 3 SSD connected to my main editing computer.  This drive is called the “Editing Drive”.

My media is divided into three categories: current projects, past projects, and archived projects.  Within the project name folder, I’ll also include a folder for video, one for client logos, and one for photos.  So inside each of the drive I described above, there is a hierarchy that looks like this: organization by year -> client -> project name. 

As I said the editing drive is very fast and it’s portable, so I can always take my current projects with me if I go to get coffee or to a meet with a client.  At 1TB it can accommodate very large 10 bit video files. Just to give you an example of how big these files get, a 30-second ProRes 422HQ clip will about 2GB!  My latest project generated over 250GB of video, and it was just a two-minute commercial job!  The FCPX library along for this project was over 150GB, so keeping all this on the computer’s internal drive is not an option.  

So anyway, once the project is complete with all client revisions done and payments made, I’ll delete the render files in FCPX, then transfer the whole project folder from the Editing Drive to the 10TB Past Projects drive.  This frees up the Editing Drive for the next project.  When 2020 rolls around, I’ll transfer all the 2019 projects from the Past Projects drive to the Archive Drive and start over again.  I keep client projects in the Archive Drive for two years, so last month I deleted all the 2016 projects.  As I mentioned earlier I’m a digital packrat, so I keep all those old drone videos from 2013, even though they are garbage from a quality standpoint.  Call me nostalgic.  

One final insurance policy I use to make sure nothing bad happens is that I have an app called Carbon Copy Cloner that automatically backs up the Editing Drive every Sunday night.  In the unlikely event the Editing Drive crashes, I’ll still be able to get the project done.

So that’s my system.  It could easily use some improvement and I plan on investing in another RAID drive this year, but this system has served me well for three years now.