Tuesday, December 21, 2010

#0050 Ten Essential Rules of File Naming 10-. Include Extra Data

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Asset Management 101

Include Extra Data
In the post, #0043 AM101: Part 2 - Understanding File Classification , I list more than 15 ways to classify files. In your naming system, incorporating this meta-data into a file name can often be useful, avoiding the need for secondary data files with data about the data. Let's look again at some of the extra data you might include:

Artist Names

This should go without saying, but sometimes it is important or helpful to embed the artist names or initials in a filename. Case in point: I currently am supervising in a mixed-OS environment, with Linux, Mac and Windows machines. The server is Linux, and my Windows machine doesn't convert for me the user and group ID numbers into names. For most files, we don't care enough to make this an issue. But for some files, with shared authoring, it is easier if we know who authored the most recent revision. Likewise, artists may be working in a common folder generating multiple assets.  In both these examples, knowing who made the file can save time.

Variation vs Option Descriptions

Often we are producing more than one option. For all files, this also belongs after the revision control number, unless the options and variants represent unique elements that can or should be used.
To clarify, suppose we are making a single element in Photoshop of a gaseous cloud for compositing. We've designed three Layer Comps and named them, “red”, “blue” and “mixed”. If only one of these should be used we would name these:
example 1
But suppose we are asked to provide three unique gas cloud variations for a shot. These might be named:
example 2
This implies, of course, a requirement for explicit and clear instructions to the artist. However, giving explicit instructions will strengthen your command and control system. When in doubt, the artist should ask if they are presenting options or variations.

Other File Classification Data

Rights Managed Files – One company I worked for found it important, when collecting stock files, to include rights usage information in the filename. They developed some simple abbreviations to indicate Royalty Free and Rights Managed assets. When collecting or accepting assets from the client for reference or use, it might be useful to encode the file with information to indicate whether the file is only for reference, client use in a particular project, or general use for all client projects.

Camera Data – Sometimes it might be useful to file footage with information about the camera angle (wide, close-up) or a camera number. Suppose you have stereo footage, then you need a consistent way to name your left and right view footage and asset files. Likewise, suppose you're assembling work from a multi-camera shoot, you may want to identify which camera was used in the source footage filename.

Use your imagination, and remember, that the most important aspect of asset filenaming is to facilitate control, yet accommodate unpredictable needs. Allow in your convention for modifiers and additional data, don't try to predetermine every possible situation, and update your specifications and review them with your staff often.
Just remember to protect your sort order, Usually the most important aspect of sort order will be the asset name and the next most important will be the revision control system numbering. After that come your modifiers and other data.

Asset Management 101 – part 9: Ten Essential Rules of File Naming-Summarized