RubyNation Tape Inventory

I'm the producer responsible for the video production effort for RubyNation 2010. This is the fourth in a series of articles about this effort. and covers the importance of tape management strategies for a large-scale production.

After the conference, I performed an inventory of the videotapes for RubyNation. We have 34 DVCAM tapes, which are the large tapes from the professional-caliber cameras that we borrowed from Arlington Independent Media (AIM). They'll have to be ingested into digital form IN REAL TIME at AIM's ingestion facility. We have 32 MiniDV tapes, which are the tapes from the small video cameras (Gray's camera, Don's camera, MetroStar's camera, etc.).

Videotaping RubyNation 2010

Of these, 32 DVCAM tapes and 24 MiniDV tapes are from the conference sessions (56 tapes total). The remaining 10 tapes are extra footage, including conference interviews, footage at the RuBy-B-Q, footage of org meetings, the pre-production walk-through at the hotel, footage from the cherry blossoms festival, the Jeremy McAnally interview, etc.

All in all, I'm estimating it at about 45 hours of video footage.

I told the folks at Arlington Independent Media (AIM) how much footage we had, and they were amazed. The average producer at AIM is typically editing an hour or two of footage to produce an hour-long show.

The difference for RubyNation is that we're really producing numerous projects simultaneously. We're producing 28 conference sessions. (It would be 29, but our agreement with Dave Thomas, our keynote speaker, precludes us from airing his talk in its entirety). We're also producing an hour-long documentary for AIM. Add to that about 10 interview clips that we want to publish, a highlights clip and a television advertisement for the documentary.

When I add all that up, this footage will allow us to produce 41 individual pieces of video content, with at least 29 of those projects longer than 30 minutes.

Editorial Note: (May 29, 2010) After seeing some of the footage shot by our amateur volunteers, it's become clear that we need to do a Blooper Clip, too. So, make that 42 individual video items.

For this whole effort, we've shot footage of interviews and organizational meetings before the conference. We even shot footage at the Washington DC Cherry Blossoms Festival, as well as before-hand footage at the scene of the Friday night RuBy-B-Q (hosted by MetroStar Systems), and footage of us doing video production prep work at the Sheraton Hotel.

Of course, the bulk of our footage was recorded at the conference. However, we'll even be shooting footage after the conference, such as post-conference interviews with the organizers, interviews with some of the sponsors, etc.

The image below shows one page from my video production Excel spreadsheet. Specifically, it shows the current video production status of the tapes relating to all of the conference sessions.

Video Production Inventory

To me, there are two things of vital importance with a video shoot this big. First, tape management. Just imagine if none of these tapes were labeled. From the very outset, I established the rule that used tapes were labeled as soon as they were taken out of the camera. And by labeled, I meant that 1) a label got stuck on the tape, and 2) a label got stuck on the case that the tape was in. This was rigorously enforced with all volunteers.

Second, with a shoot this big, you've got to keep track of the footage that you've got. That's what this whole "tape inventory" is — it's me, as producer, tracking all of the footage that's been recorded. The tape inventory lets me know what I have, and allows me to figure out what I may still need to get. And my tape inventory is a living document. It constantly gets updated so I know exactly what I've got for footage right now.


David Keener By ubolt on Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 07:37 AM EST

That is a LOT of tapes. I bet editing is gonna take a while.

David Keener By dkeener on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 at 07:01 AM EST

The bottleneck hasn't been the editing, it's been the ingestion of all the tapes. You see, the tapes have to be ingested at AIM in real time. And only one of us producers is officially certified to rent the editing rooms at AIM to do the ingestion.

I'm definitely beginning to see the advantages of some of the new video cameras that record directly to flash cards, so the content is already in digital form and can easily be copied to a laptop.

David Keener By dkeener on Saturday, April 23, 2011 at 02:10 PM EST

Probably need to do an article about how recording to digital format directly is SO much better than recording to tape. The tape ingestion bottle-neck is horrible in general. And it's further compounded if the equipment needed for tape ingestion has to be borrowed or rented from others.

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