The Photo Booth Guys x BitTorrent Sync

Steve Bliesner shares his team’s story: 

Here at The Photo Booth Guys, our aim is to create beautiful photos and amazing experiences. There’s no detail too small; we look at every background, every prop, every print, making sure the final product is awesome. We operate in Australia and the United Kingdom, offering both photo booths and InstaPrinta, a real-time Instagram printing station.

We upload photos in real-time at each event we do, so as you can imagine, we have a lot of files traveling through our system. We used to use a cloud-based service, but were running into issues. For starters, it was becoming really expensive (with 15+ users and growing).

The bulk of our data is uploaded via 4G modems, and we had too many cases of ripping through our monthly data allocation with our provider, because we’d inadvertently sync the wrong folder.

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We were getting bottle necks when moving a large number of files (something we do frequently). Files had to go up to the cloud and then back down to us. Moving a folder with thousands and thousands of fairly large images was proving to cause some downtime at our end.

It also required an active Internet connection. Our photo booths go out to jobs in some remote locations where there is very poor Internet – or none at all. This was problematic, as we required a solid LAN sync solution as well.

Lastly, not everyone on our staff has large enough hard drives for all of our files. And whilst they don’t always need access to them 24/7, they do need the ability to grab anything they need at a given moment. We had ran into version control issues when some folks were flicking between the Mac Finder and the Web app, editing files but not re-uploading.

When we discovered Sync, it wasn’t long before we realised it totally fit our needs.

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Each of our photo booths have two Microsoft Surface Pro tablets (one in the main photo booth and another in the printer / social media sharing station that sits next to it). As a guest uses the photo booth, the photos taken are synced back to our main server (which we have hosted with Mac Stadium). The photos also sync across the local network to the social media station.

When photos get to the server (generally just in a minute or two) we run a custom Adobe Lightroom plug-in, which imports the photos into Lightroom, applies an editing preset and then exports the files back out as a finished JPEG. Those files go into a folder that then sync backs to all our office/staff computers for quality checking. They are then uploaded to a gallery for the client to download after the event. The time a photo is taken, to the time it’s completely finished, is often just a few minutes. We also backup files to Amazon Glacier using Arq (for a low cost backup).

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At an event, we allow guests to upload photos to social, as well as being able to email themselves the photos at the station. We could have used a simple network share to get the images from the photo booth to the social media station, but Sync is actually a much simpler way of doing it. It also means our staff doesn’t need to be overly tech savvy to troubleshoot (compared to figuring our Windows sharing, for instance). Basically, as long as the two computers are connected to the same router / 4G modem, we know it will sync; the same can’t always be said for a Windows share.

This was where our previous cloud service let us down since (1) the LAN sync still requires an active internet connection (2) it was too slow. Sync is awesome in this respect as it truly does sync across the LAN.

Overall, Sync has saved us a ton of money and has given us a very fast, simple, private and robust solution – one that is quite easy to troubleshoot. Also, I especially love being able to have access to all our files on the desktop and only downloading the ones I need to work on.

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