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Improving tapeless media management with Auto Transfer

Working with tapeless media requires a robust organization and backup policy to ensure your footage remains safe.

One key area of concern is memory cards and readers, as cheaper ones can sometimes behave erratically when they get hot, causing data corruption. Worse still, OS X's Finder will not always show an indication that footage is corrupt when you copy it to your hard drive.

If your camera shoots to QuickTime movies, you should at the very least browse to the copied location and scroll through the directory to spot movie clips without thumbnails, as this may indicate files that are unreadable.

Another potential issue is directory structure. While it may be tempting to copy just the movie clips to your hard drive, some applications and Log and Transfer plugins are expecting the files to exist in a particular place within the directory hierarchy. Not maintaining this structure can lead to files being imported without metadata and timecode or sometimes not importing at all, depending on the application or plugin.

Auto Transfer is a tool for simplifying these problems. It can automatically copy the contents of your memory cards to multiple locations for safety. It also performs checksums on the copied files to ensure they are exactly the same as those on the card.

If a file fails the verification check, Auto Transfer allows you to try copying the file again. The Info pane keeps a record of how many times a failure occurs when copying from a particular card, which is a very useful indicator of a card that's potentially faulty.

Auto Transfer copies the full directory structure from a card, which ensures that it will be able to be read correctly by your NLE and companion apps. It can copy multiple cards simultaneously.

You can also specify additional metadata which can be used to create a custom directory structure, similar to our project management app Post Haste. For example, you could instruct Auto Transfer to create a new folder for each shooting day and put the relevant day's card contents in that folder. Alternatively you could create a directory structure based on the reel, project name and date. It's very customizable and is great for businesses that wish to have a consistent naming convention.

The metadata can also be added to a spreadsheet. There is one spreadsheet per project and each card is added to a new row at the end of the sheet. This allows you to have a printable record of any data you wish to track such as the reel number, scene information, description and more. The columns are customizable.

Various actions are available upon a successful transfer including Growl notifications (see our tutorial for sending Growl notifications to an iOS device), playing a sound effect, ejecting the drive, showing the files in Finder and much more.

Auto Transfer is an essential tool for DITs and anyone who deals with tapeless media. It is available as part of Pro Media Tools and there is a 15-day trial available here.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Mar 29 2012 to Tutorials, Software, Cameras