APRIL 29, 2021

Foundational Strategies for Organizing Shared Media Storage Workspaces

viewing media in a shared storage workspace

One of the most crucial tasks in the design of a post-production pipeline is deciding exactly how to organize and manage all your media. As both the volume of media and the number of users accessing it grow, creating distinct virtual storage workspaces streamlines the workflow for everyone involved.

Workspaces are a way to focus each user's attention on the particular project and media they need to do their job, regardless of whether they're an editor, assistant, or supervisor. Each workspace becomes a separate virtual storage space, making it easier to locate and work with media and increasing user productivity.

Organizing your workspaces can also help streamline security. You can assign permissions to each workspace to establish who can see it and whether they have read-write or read-only access. Workspaces can thus become a handy way of managing both media access and security across the entire post-production pipeline.

The Building Blocks of Media Management

Successful storage workspaces will be tailored to your team and their projects. However, you can lean on a few basic but essential building blocks to lay the foundation for how you organize media within workspaces.

User-Based Workspaces

One approach is to create workspaces unique to a particular user or set of users. When that user connects to the workspace for their team, they see a collection of media specific to their needs. Other users who connect to different workspaces will see a different set of media. This approach can work well in an environment where each editor or team typically works on their own projects.

For example, each client in an advertising house may have a dedicated team working on their campaigns. Imagine you had a Coke commercial and a Pepsi commercial being edited using the same storage. User-based workspaces would give each team a streamlined view into just the media relevant to their work and wall them off from content for competing clients—which, in turn, bolsters security in situations where confidentiality is critical.

Project-Based Workspaces

Another way to look at a workspace is as a home for media that relates to a particular project or part of a project. Each virtual storage space would contain everything needed to work on a specific project. From there, users can be given varying levels of access depending on their role in that project. The editorial team may have full read-write access, for instance; meanwhile, those who just need to reference the media for other projects or to review and provide notes may have read-only access.

This approach can be particularly useful in episodic work. If an editor is working on one episode of a show, having to dig through the media for the entire show to find what is relevant to a particular episode can slow down their work. In instances where elements like music or graphics have been approved for use in particular episodes, organizing your workspaces this way can even prevent assets from being used in the wrong projects.

With this method, an individual editor could have access to multiple workspaces if they work on multiple episodes. But when they connect to a particular workspace, they know everything they need for that specific episode is contained in that workspace. Workspaces could even be created as archives for complete projects or episodes that may still need to be referenced but whose media will no longer be edited.

Media-Based Workspaces

When working on a larger-scale project with more distinct stages of post production, such as a feature film, organizing workspaces based on where the media fits into the process can help streamline the workflow. For instance, someone might connect to a workspace dedicated to dailies in order to browse media. Once cuts or takes are approved, proxies created from the dailies process could be put into a workspace for the edit. Even if there is a need to go back and find additional material, the dailies workspace can always be accessed again. This scheme also works well for keeping elements like music and sound effects libraries in their own separate, easily searchable workspaces.

Putting the Building Blocks Together

The most important aspect of organizing your workspaces is to examine how your team uses media. Some media will be exclusive to one editor or team, some media will be specific to certain projects or episodes, and some will need to be accessed by type. The more closely workspaces match the way people already look for and use media, the more you will see the benefits of a streamlined workflow and security process.

For most projects, a good starting place is to create a workspace for each user, a workspace for shared assets and libraries such as music and sound effects, and then another workspace for completed and archived media that may need to be referenced in the future. As the needs of the project grow, you can update your workspaces and user permissions to match those needs.

Taking Advantage of Storage Flexibility

Because you aren't actually allocating physical storage space but are instead creating a virtual window into that physical storage, you can create and dynamically resize workspaces as needed. You aren't confined to a single building block—put those blocks together to create a strategy that factors in elements such as the type of connectivity each user has to the shared media storage, the resolution of the media they need to access, and which applications they use.

You might start out with one workspace per editor and then discover you need a more complex arrangement; you may allocate a small amount of space to a particular workspace, then discover you need to expand it, or the reverse. You can even adjust permissions and security features as you go.

This organizational flexibility is a good argument for getting rid of storage silos and uniting all of your storage into a single, scalable solution so that all of your media lives in the same virtualized pool of storage.

You can navigate these changes and more fairly deftly when you manage your media through virtual workspaces. After a baseline setup, don't be afraid to tinker to find that sweet spot of efficiency, productivity, and security for your projects—that's the beauty of virtual storage.

Avid NEXIS is the media industry's most comprehensive and reliable shared storage solution, offering efficient, scalable storage tiering on premises and in the cloud.

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  • Amy Leland Headshot

    Amy Leland is a film director and editor. Her short film, Echoes, is available on Amazon Video. She is an editor for CBS Sports Network.

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