How to save your timelapses


UPDATE 2024/02/08: This LaCie Raid just failed me out of the blue and I'm having to restore it manually using expensive recovery software, so yeah, not ideal.

As you probably know, I shoot a lot of timelapses. 

Each timelapse can easily count 1,000 RAW images.

Earlier this year I recorded over five terabytes of timelapse sequences over four nights.

This results in a lot of data that I need to store, and if there’s a paying client involved, I need to store that data securely.

Naturally, a question I get asked is “How do you store all that data?

Today I’m teaching you the best data storage strategy for timelapse photographers.

I’m happy to announce that this content is sponsored by LaCie

The featured products are below:

Let me walk you through how I tackle a commercial timelapse shoot.

First of all, I roughly estimate how many photos I will be taking.

I then calculate how much data that will be, based on the average size of each RAW file.

Despite having a 2TB SSD inside of my laptop, I’m almost always running out of space on that, so I will be editing on an external SSD (Solid State Drive).

The reason here is simple: speed.

SSDs are much, much faster than HDDs (Hard Disk Drive) and are less prone to breaking.

Once the shoot is finished you need to offload your SD cards onto your SSD.

To keep things consistent and efficient, I use an app called Post Haste to generate a folder structure.

I've been using the same folder structure for years, so I can always easily find RAW footage or exports from older shoots.

Here's what that folder structure looks like:

This template I use is included in my timelapse courses, by the way, so check those out if you want to learn more.

As you can see, this folder structure holds a place for my project files, my RAW footage, and my exports, aka the finished timelapse files.

I keep working on this external SSD until all the timelapses are exported as master files.

If it’s an important project, either for yourself or for a paying client, it’s important to have one, but ideally two backups of your project files and your timelapse shots.

In comes the LaCie 2big DOCK.

I am using the 16TB version, and because it allows you to select either RAID 0 for speed or RAID 1 for redundancy, it’s a very attractive, and good-looking storage option.

I use an app called GoodSync to mirror the content of the SSD onto the Lacie 2big DOCK while I work.

For total security, you should consider having a third hard drive stored in another physical location, just in case your house burns down or you get robbed.

So to recap:

  • I offload and work on the external SSD while I’m out and about.
  • This SSD gets cloned on the bigger hard drive on my desk as soon as possible.
  • For total safety, I have a third storage option somewhere else.

Now, quick quiz, what is a way to make this process even more secure?

Imagine we’re on-site at the shoot, we’re dumping our SD cards on the SSD but what if the SSD gets stolen while traveling home? Before you get a chance to clone the SSD onto the bigger hard drive?

I used this on my biggest project to this date at the start of the year.

What I did was I simply bought more SD cards, and I only formatted the used cards once the entire project was placed on both the SSD as well as the HDD.

This way there is almost no scenario possible where you lose your footage.

I want to share a final, hard-hitting bit of truth.

If you take one thing away from this video, let it be this: if your footage is only on one hard drive, consider that footage lost.

Please make sure you have a solid data storage strategy, and please use this moment to do that back up you know you should have been doing!

Another big thanks to LaCie for sponsoring this content.

Check out their channels here:

Get all the best tools and techniques to become a great timelapse photographer.

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