A few days ago, a friend of mine Dr. Chika Onu was desperately looking for copies of some movies he made some years back. One of these movies was The Battle of Musanga. He could not find any copy at any of the video outlets, reasons being that the movies was shot on the umatic tape format and distributed on the VHS format.  Now years later, he is looking for a copy of these movies which he made but could not find any.  Many of us as producers and directors are caught up in this dilemma.  VHS is no more in vogue. Getting a VHS copy will mean looking for someone who had the presence of mind to preserve a copy in his or her private collection.  Even in a situation where you kept a copy for yourself courtesy of your marketer, will the copy be playable?

Those of us who remember the era of VHS remembers the issue of ‘dirt’ or mucus accumulating on the tape due to the high humidity of this area. Umatic went obsolete long before the demise of the VHS. Don’t get me wrong here, VHS players may, and I repeat, may bounce back viz a viz the vinyl record players but right now, it is no where in sight yet.

Anyway, back to the order of the day, in a very short space of time, we have transited from Umatic through VHS, SVHS, DV, miniDV formats and now, direct to disk recordings or in popular parlance recording to removable media is in vogue.

Working with removable media calls for a different workflow and approach to the way things are done. Where all you need to do was to shelve a tape after use for further use or reference, today, if you use removable media, you are left with the choice of either deleting your digital asset after use or to look for an effective and cheap way to archive your footage for further reference.

So how do you preserve a production that your client wants preserved? My take in this, is the use of cloud computing services. What do I mean? A lot of us make use of the concept of cloud computing in one form or the other. Cloud computing is all about computers linked together through some form of network such as the internet and by virtue of this linkage, share resources. The resource although resident in one of the computers, is actually distributed by a virtual server.  Most of us store our documents on our email servers as an attachment, which we download anytime we need it.  This is actually using cloud computing resources, although in terms of efficiency, using your email attachment as a way of storing documents is clumsy and inefficient. The size of the documents you store through this means is also highly restricted since most email service providers have a limit to the size of the document which they allow you to attach. How then does this apply to us?

Creative use can be made by Producers and Directors of media content, of services such as YouTube, Vimeo and other online media streaming services among others.  Any of these service can be used to transfer media files to clients ( in this day of digital contents). You don’t have to look for a recorder to dub out a copy of the finished work and then spend some hours driving through heavy traffic to deliver the content to your client when you could have uploaded the same material online using one of these services and have your client download it at his or her own end for use.  It is even a lot better on some platforms, since the online material can be accessed by different persons at different locations.  Note that even public oriented providers such as YouTube sport an option that allows you to make your material private and only accessible by individuals of your choice.

So many of these services abound that cater purely for file transfers, their functions are sometimes better than the conventional file transfer protocols or FTP’s in short.  I would have liked to list some of these services here, but unfortunately, we would not want to be seen as making a case for one organisation over another.  The good thing about using any of these services is the fact that currently, 4k, 6k and even 8k digital media are getting popular and the means of acquiring the footages are getting cheaper. It is likely that within a short while, we will begin to see a proliferation of these formats in everyday professional, prosumer and possibly consumer use.

It therefore lies on us as producers and directors to offer to our clients options that grants them the ability to have productions that are scalable. I am trying to say that it is easier to transcode digital content from one format to another. Storing your clients job on a cloud server can offer you and ultimately your client that scalability. It is easier to download any digital media file, transcode it into a different format for use.  The greatest attraction about this is that the responsibility for storing and preserving the digital resource is left for the cloud service that you use.

We will however want to posit a caveat at this point in time. Be careful of where you store your materials especially if they are of sensitive nature.  Other than that, cloud computing storage is a very attractive option.

What do you think? Do you use any of this or do you think you have a better option, please feel free to comment and let our other readers know.

This post was made by Chyke Chekwas

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