Sync Stories: Video Design Firm Tackles Big Files

Sync Stories is a column dedicated to our users. Each week, we showcase a different use case for BitTorrent Sync and the personal stories behind it.

In this week’s edition: Luke McKibben of Lukrative Visual shares how Sync helps him work effectively with massive files, creating a suitable workflow and backup system.

From Luke:

I am a videographer based in Houston, Texas, who shoots a range of projects from short documentaries to real estate tours, wedding productions, special events, interviews, and B Roll footage. Some of these projects are multi-hour, multi-camera shoots, and increasingly cameras are capturing a raw 4K image. Read: the file sizes can be massive, which I will get in to later. 

Key to handling so much media is a robust, well thought-out, and well-executed organizational structure. This safeguards against wasted time looking for media, or god forbid, accidentally deleting media, an experience I only had once in my early days in the field.

Massive Files, Big Problems 

As mentioned, file sizes can be massive. At my home studio, I have countless external drives to keep up with the volume. I work primarily from home, so sometimes I want to access files from an external drive that is connected to a machine I am not currently using. Sure, all of my machines are networked, but reading large media files (video) over the network can not only be “buggy”, but can also tax network resources and slow down general network traffic. Another issue that I have run into is how to get media files to collaborators, sometimes people in other cities. Dropbox and the like are great for sharing small files, or photos, but again, it’s cost prohibitive to buy a dropbox account that can handle video files, and I am convinced they throttle upload speeds, so it can take forever to send media to an editor.

Syncing 9 Terabytes

When I discovered BitTorrent Sync, I was initially looking for a way to create my own “cloud backup” in the event something happened to my media locally (fire, theft, other disaster).  I purchased a cheap PC and a number of large external drives, and hosted that setup at my uncle’s house in Dallas.  I found the entire process abundantly simple to set up on Sync and while it did take a while to sync all 9 Tb of media over the network, neither of us encountered any sort of significant bottle neck or lag. I now have media on (at least) three different drives: 1 primary external that I work from, 1 backup external locally in case of drive failure, and 1 “cloud” backup in Dallas. Once I set up the folders, I didn’t have to do anything else. No expensive accounts or limits, just peace of mind.

Creating My Workflow

It was soon after that when I realized the further potential of how Sync can help with workflow. I work primarily between a 21.5″ imac and a 15″ MacBook Pro. Sometimes I transition between 2 machines with frequency, depending on where I am the most comfortable working. Furthermore, it’s more often than not the case that when I download something on one machine, I will also need to access that same downloaded file on another machine. My solution was to use Sync to sync all my download folders on these two machines (and incidentally, a PC which I use as a media hub). So I download a file that a client emails me and it’s immediately available on all of my work stations.

Similarly, I used Sync to sync my “filing cabinet” with all client files. I was sure to make the folder hierarchy identical in both machines.  The result: I always know exactly where to find files, and when I make changes to files on either the MacBook pro or the iMac, it automatically updates on the other machine.

There is also a peace of mind in this approach, as I am creating a defacto “backup” of my files and media on both machines – each of which of course I run regular “time machine” backups, and those “time machines” backups are syncing to the “Dallas” cloud I mentioned earlier. This is all handled through Sync and once I set it up initially, it quietly works in the background and I never have to think about it again. It just works.

Needless to say, not only has Sync provided a workflow solution with regard to constantly having access to the media I need on any work station, it has also been an instrumental tool in collaboration with partners and editors – sometimes in different states than me.  It has also provided a significant and simple advantage in making sure that the files I want duplicates of for safekeeping are being duplicated on different drives, without the messiness of constantly having to manually copy files from one location to the next. That peace of mind, knowing that there are more copies of my data on several machines, is worth a lot – and yet Sync is free.  The interface is easy enough that I am not constantly creating duplicates.

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