Organising Timelapse - How?

First published December 28th 2015.

Over the last few months I've been working on improving the way I store my timelapse shots. My current drive structure is adapted from Matthew Vandeputte's structure, with a few tweaks.

Although I did not shoot timelapse for a living until recently, I have accumulated over 10TB of footage over two years of shooting. Some of this is project specific and is stored separately to the rest, but generally all my timelapse is stored across two drives, which are cloned directly by software twice a day.

The Drives

Drives 1 and 3 are cloned to drives 2 and 4, and to differentiate between the two I add "_2" to the second drive:

  • Drive 1/2: 3TB drive called "CFrames_TimelapseA", currently full
  • Drive 3/4: 4TB drive called "CFrames_TimelapseB", currently full
  • Drive 5: an 8TB G-Technology RAID drive called "CFrames_TimelapseC"

The Folder Structure

Top Level Folder

The top level folder has the following naming structure: 'YYYY-MM-DD-Location'. So, a timelapse I shot in Walldorf (Germany) on the 25th July 2015 would be named '2015-07-25-Walldorf'. If needed, the top level folder is tagged. 'Not Rendered' means that there are unrendered sequences from that shoot and 'Additional Processing Needed' means that I need to do further work on some of the sequences (stabilising or noise reduction for example).

Sub-folders

Inside that top level folder there are five other folders, and one text file… the text file contains any relevant information about the shots - I often make notes on my shots whilst I'm shooting, and those get copied from Evernote or iCloud Notes into this file for ease of reference. The other five folders? Well, they are as follows:

'YYYY-MM-DD-Location-RAW'

This is the folder which contains the camera data to be processed. 

Inside that folder there's a '_Misc' folder which is where I put any BTS images or videos, stills with my second / third camera, etcetera. There's also a '_RAMPERPRO' folder which is where I put the Ramper Pro XMP files from the shoot, but this is a new addition.

There are then the image sequences which are named 'YYYY-MM-DD-Location-ShotName'. I usually try and give a shot a sensible name: calling five different shots 'sunset' will not be particularly useful, so I'd call them by more identifiable names. Perhaps one shot was looking due north, or was tight on the sun. Perhaps one was wide. Whatever can differentiate it from the other shots, that is what the name comprises of. 

These shots are tagged with either 'Not Rendered', 'Rendered', 'Exported', 'Ready to Export', 'Shoot Again', 'BTS', or 'Do Not Use'; these help tell me whether shots have been processed, are a behind-the-scenes shot, need reshooting, or whether thet need processing. Also, I can search the entire drive for shots that have a 'Ready to Export' tag, for example, which is much easier than having to look into every folder for shots.

'YYYY-MM-DD-Location-JPG'

My workflow involves the use of Lightroom, so this folder is where Lightroom exports end up. Inside that folder, there are all the JPG image sequences. If any of the shots have been exported from Lightroom but not rendered, then they are tagged with 'Ready to Render'.

'YYYY-MM-DD-Location-LR'

This folder contains the Lightroom catalog, and its associated files (such as previews and import databases). The catalog is named 'YYYY-MM-DD-Location-Catalog', which makes it easy for me to find in the 'Recent Catalogs' list in Lightroom itself.

'YYYY-MM-DD-Location-ProjectFiles'

This folder contains any needed project files - typically this would be an After Effects project but it has been a Premiere Pro project in some cases. This is usually empty, with the exceptions of when I need to perform any of the above further work, or if I'm shooting hyperlapse.

'YYYY-MM-DD-Location-RENDERS'

This contains the rendered files. Typically, I only have two folders inside this: 

  • 'YYYY-MM-DD-Location-4KRENDERS'
  • 'YYYY-MM-DD-Location-HDRENDERS'

Even then, I often do not render an HD version of the shot - sticking to a 4K export most of the time. Inside the '4KRENDERS' folder, I have all the rendered shots ready for sale, import into an edit, and whatever else I want to do with them. These ProRes 422 (HQ) files are tagged if they need further work - the tags are as follows:

  • 'Remove Noise' - if the shot contains sensor noise, then I'll use NeatVideo to remove this inside After Effects
  • 'Remove Birds' - sometimes timelapses can contain annoying birds which appear in one or two frames and then disappear, and I like to remove these
  • 'Stabilise' - sometimes the wind can make light work in moving even the sturdiest tripod, and I need to use warp stabiliser or other tracking tools in order to make the timelapse look pristine
  • 'Deflicker' - sometimes timelapse shots can end up containing flicker, although I try and remove this whilst editing

Example

From one of my recent shoots in Snowdonia:

As you can see, all the shots have been rendered (that's what the green tag is for), but I need to do some additional work on some of those shots - either noise reduction or stabilisation in this case.

Post Haste

Post Haste is an awesome and free tool which I use to generate folder structures. I use it for video editing, timelapse and photography structures. It allows me to quickly type in the location and for a folder to be generated with the correct structure and folder names.

You can download Post Haste for Mac and PC here. If you want, you can download my template for timelapse here - you'll need a date field and a text field which I've named as Timelapse_Location to avoid confusion. 

If you find this post useful, please let me know on Twitter or in the comments below!