Tips on media filling

I thought I would share this information to build up my portfolio of journalistic publications. Thanks to digital technology and the digital platform of communication and trading, we are creating more media files than ever before… both hobbyists and professionals. We produce video files, graphics files, audio files, textual files and of course photographic image files. With the exception of textual files, these file types are generally quite large and quickly consume storage space.

A professional media producer might start out with gigabytes of storage, but in a short space of time will be consuming terabytes. Fortunately the memory resources required are readily available through plugin drives, network mapping and cloud technologies.

Unfortunately though, finding a particular file when you need it can be a different story. Looking for one file among a terabyte of files can be time consuming if you don’t have the file name. This is were a good classification, indexing and cataloguing system will help.

The first thing most people will consider is a naming and folder classification convention. Some may try to model a set of folders based on library classification systems, only to find it cumbersome for their particular application. To find a particular digital media asset you continually must think in library taxonomy terms, only to discover the media could belong in multiple categories, so which one was it filed under?

Having all the media files stored in one large folder is most convenient to media project applications that these files might link to, particularly if the application cannot automatically update these links when the linked files are moved elsewhere in a folder catalogue.

Using a single folder will mean these linked files will always be located in that same folder and the links will never be broken due to relocation of the digital asset. However it makes it difficult to locate a particular file manually—when you don’t know the file name.

One solution is to create a folder catalogue to classify media files into subject matter and event groups. This once again makes it difficult to maintain links in those project applications these files may be linked to. If you ever use still images and graphic files in video productions you will know that their link data is imported into the video production projects. Importing link data is extremely light on digital storage resources by comparison to importing copies of the actual physical files. The drawback is that if the source media files are moved then links can be broken—affecting the video production project. Now if all media files only had one home—one folder, they would never be moved.

Unfortunately that makes the task of finding individual images much harder, as already mentioned. Fortunately though, there are solutions of compromise. Firstly, it will pay to separate client work from the enterprise pool. Then it would pay to separate commercial artwork and composite separation stock from the general media stock pool. Next it would pay to categorise media types into exclusive folders... audio, video, graphics and photographic image files as subcategories of the “Commercial artwork”, “Composite separations” and “General media stock pool” folders.

The logic behind this is that you will know what type of media is linked in project applications, so you will know which folder and subfolder will contain those files for manually relinking them again in those video production projects that have incurred broken links. Of course you can always duplicate files for exclusive storage within these projects, but that will add to system storage loading and media file update sync problems in many workflows—defeating the purpose behind importing links instead of physical files.

To overcome the difficulty of locating specific files contained in one folder there is a number of things that can be done. First is in the file name convention chosen. It is not possible to use filenames that describe the subject or action of photographic and video files to any helpful degree. The file names would simply be too long. I have a preference of starting the file name with a reverse date. If an image or video file was created on dd/mm/yy, then my filename starts with yy/mm/dd- followed by a three digit count index—or four digits if you think you will rename more than 999 new files produced on the same day. I use metadata keyword tags to identify the content of the media file. If I know the filename I am looking for I can just do a file name search. If I don’t, I do a metadata keyword tag search.

My reason for using a reverse date is that the year is a progressive number that will not reoccur in my lifetime. It is ideal as the first set of digits in a naming convention are chronologically sequenced. It does add a step in the file download workflow, but when done in a batch using a renaming application, the time consumption is greatly reduced—particularly when combined with initial downloading of the files. I also add a three digit sequence number after the reverse date to cater for the renaming of multiple files on the same day—they must all be given unique names. This sequence number can be repeated for different date numbers because the uniqueness of the file name is determined by the combination of the reverse date number and the sequence number… thus the sequence number never climbs too high—it can start again the next day. Adding an author ID will also help when your files are entered into the public arena—incase others are using the same naming convention. For example 190316-105.jpg. This is file 105 in the batch created on March 16, 2019. Adding an author ID might look like this: 190316-105-GLdigital.jpg

The time taken to add keywords using Adobe Bridge or Lightroom tools is much less than trying to locate files over and over again when you don’t have the exact filename on hand. Most good image editing programs provide keyword tagging options. Adobe Lightroom and Bridge do and Bridge is actually free. It usually is packaged with Photoshop, but can be acquired independently from Adobe. Both these applications allow the storage of a keyword list that you build up yourself. It is easy to transfer copies of these keywords to the file metadata from the list to individual, or a batch of selected images through a simple checkbox interface within these editing applications.

If you can’t find what you are looking for by its date (file name), then you can fall back on a metadata keyword tag. Again both Adobe Lightroom and Bridge provide a search user interface in their applications, as do Mac and Windows operating systems, so searching using keyword tags is not a problem. It allows all media files to be stored in just a few folders, rather than a library of them in which a single image or media asset my belong in many different categories. The main thing to avoid is duplication of media files to satisfy multiple categories of indexing. Duplication leads to a real mess and excessive storage space requirements over time.

I hope you find helpful insight from this article. It has been developed over several years of application and learning.

About the author:

Gavin Lardner operates in the Gold Coast region of Australia. As well as being a freelance media asset producer, Gavin Lardner is a mature age student of current digital design and media technologies that include photography, video, graphics and web technologies… visit his site at … enjoy your filing upgrades.

Lagoon Gulls

Photo credits: Gavin Lardner.

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