Sunday, December 19, 2010

#0048 Ten Essential Rules of File Naming 8-. Abbreviate Consistently

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Asset Management 101 – part 6

This rule could possibly be split into “Use Abbreviations” and “Be Consistent”, but then I'd need an 11th point, and that just would cause all kinds of psychotropic disruptions in the universe and list makers everywhere might shudder in disgust. The point is, when naming things, be consistent, use abbreviations, and use abbreviations consistently. Let's lump into this post the idea of using codes and talk about legibility.


For example, suppose you're working for a client named Walter Thomas Studios. You can abbreviate most names to between two and four letters, so you've decided clients get three letters: WTS or wts.
Next, WTS has awarded you a short film, The Red Eyed Animator, and a series, Movie Effects Magic. So again, three characters or four characters work with most films, so you use three characters (and save the fourth for sequels), giving you either “rea” or “REA”.
For the series you know you will certainly have double-digit episodes and it could go to triple, so you name your Movie Effects Magic episodes MEM001 and so forth. For series common assets, you use the episode number 000, so you don't need an ad-hoc name like “Season Assets”, which, while perfectly acceptable, breaks sort order.
When naming episodes, remember, clients will have their own show numbers, You may want to use these or part of these. For example, suppose WTS uses the numbers 09000-09999 for its MEM series, you can use 000-999 because your system replaces the initial “09” with “MEM”, thus: wtsMEM001.
Other abbreviations you might use:
example 1
v version
r revision
t take
rl reel
sc scene
sh shot
c camera


You may have noticed that the other abbreviations list contains abbreviated field names, with the data following the abbreviation. Oftentimes you may wish to code other data with shots.
One system I developed employed the use of status codes on all our quicktime takes, so that in addition to knowing what take it was, we knew the level of refinement. Here are some status codes that could modify (and hence follow) your take name:
example 2
ANM 2D Animatic with audio
BLK Playblast Maya Blocking
RUF Rough Composition
STD Submitted To Director
STE Submitted To Editor
TCB Take Accepted, Could Be Better
TCF Take Considered Final
Of course, use of these codes requires the ability of the supervisor to review the shot and rename the file with the correct code. Use your imagination and perhaps you can come up with a set of codes that sort properly and reflect the revision loop you use.


If you always use the first three characters of a file name for the client ID and next four for the project ID, you can dispense with punctuation, yet still have scripts process and separate files based on clients and projects. Consistency in how names are assembled can actually allow you to remove punctuation or field identifiers (such as “v”). For example, elimination of nonessential punctuation and field abbreviations can reduce this file name length:
example 3


One important corollary to abbreviations and consistency is to improve legibility, the ability to distinguish between letters and hence read the file name. Note in example 3 that the text string for reel, “rl” is hard to read when next to a 1. for this reason, try to avoid lower case “l” in abbreviations and codes.
To help with legibility, I kept the client name lowercase and made the show abbreviation all caps. . ou could, if you don't use client names, help by making the show name lower case or switch and make the client all caps – just make a rule an follow it consistently:
example 4
Asset Management 101 – part 7: Essential Rules of File Naming 9 - Use Project identifiers