When speaking with clients, I'm often asked how I back-up recordings after a day's filming. Where in the past you used to see and hold a tangible cassette tape, these days all weddings are recorded to tiny SD memory cards which I still find quite a strange concept (even though I was not working during the tape era.) It seems like data can be erased or lost in a matter of moments on a tiny piece of plastic.
In this post I thought I would just explain my process for looking after your wedding footage during and after the wedding day. I should say, to start, that no system is infallable but it's my aim to follow a system which is as robust as humanly possible.
LOOKING AFTER YOUR WEDDING VIDEO FOOTAGE ON THE DAY
As years go by the capacity of memory cards has increased significantly. When I first started cards generally came in a maximum of 16GB which on my camera, recorded about 40 minutes of HD footage. These days cards come in sizes of 128-256GB and you can film for an entire day without having to change the card once.
Aside from the benefit of not needing to pause filming to swap over, the safest place for the cards is inside the camera. Although tough enough to withstand being driven over or chucked in a muddy puddle, using a single card could avoid me spending time at a wedding on my knees tweezing a memory card from a gap in a floorboard under a strobe light with guests dancing around me.
The negative aspect of larger memory cards is that all your eggs are in one basket. If one memory card fails, you have lost the entire day's filming. Luckily (touch wood) this has never happened in my time filming nearly 100 weddings. But here again, new technology can assist with reducing the risk that this holds.
I film weddings using the Panasonic GH5 and GH5s cameras which feature dual slot recording. This means that everything I record is being backed up to a second card simultaneously in the camera, meaning a card failure is not the end of the world. This combined with using very high quality SanDisk Extreme PRO cards means that I can be confident that your footage is safe.
Needless to say, I don't let the cameras out of my sight and always drive very carefully home on the evening of the wedding!
ONLINE BACKUP WITH BACKBLAZE
On return to my office, all footage from the wedding is immediately labelled and backed up to a 16TB vault drive which is stored in a locked cupboard. This data is then backed up to the cloud using the Backblaze service which encrypts and uploads your files to their secure data centre. If required, you can download the backed up files, or they post them back to you on a hard drive.
For a casual user, your data will back up quite quickly, however backing up 400GB of raw footage can take up to 5 days even with a fast upload connection, so this is a small window of extra risk where a fire / burglary could cause a loss. Although a concern, my weddings are mostly at weekends and I work from home during the week. I'm also lucky to live in a pleasant and safe neighbourhood! In a 'worse case scenario' I might have to start editing from scratch using the backed-up footage, but this is certainly a price worth paying,
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In addition to the 16TB vault drive and corresponding online back-up, I also make a second copy to a local hard drive meaning I have a back up if the 16TB fails in any way and avoids the hassle of retrieving the files from Backblaze and reduces the risk of loss if the wedding is still in the process of being uploaded to the cloud.
I also keep the wedding on the original memory cards and only delete these prior to the following wedding having cross-checked that each clip has been transferred.
Finally, I edit on an Apple iMac and the 'time machine' function makes a constant back-up of all the projects I'm currently working on. This is handy as if anything should happen to the computer, I can restore to a backup made earlier in the day and don't have to start from scratch.
POST DELIVERY OF THE WEDDING FILM
After the couple has received the film, original footage is stored locally and in the cloud for six months before being deleted to make space for new weddings. The finished edited clips are kept by me permanently as a fallback incase the customer loses their film. As I now deliver all my films on USB it's now easier than ever to make your own secure back-ups by copying for other family members or uploading to a cloud drive - I encourage everyone to do this!
I APPRECIATE THIS IS AN INCREDIBLY BORING BLOG POST
Whoever films or photographs your wedding, having a backup process is vital. The memory cards and raw footage are the most important part of the kit. Everything else can be replaced on an insurance claim, but we can't recreate your wedding day, there's only one chance! I understand that this won't be the most fascinating thing you've read all day but it's an important subject matter and something to check when booking a videographer for your wedding.