Photo & Video Workflow and Backup [chasejarvis LIVE Re-watch]

Friends: at your request we’ve loaded up a re-watch of last week’s episode of chasejarvisLIVE to my YouTube channel [subscribe here] for your review and perusal. If you’re at all interested in our digital photo & video workflow and backup, then this is worth your time. It’s a follow-up to our popular workflow video and post where we discussed and reviewed our entire digital strategy from capture through to delivery of final files to the client…even how we backup our daily work, our email preferences, and our music. You name it. The gear, the plans, the whole mess.

I’ve said it before, but it would be remiss not to mention it again: I think this topic is one of the most important fundamentals–not just for professional photographers and filmmakers like us–but for anyone with valuable digital content that’s worth backing up. In this episode, Scott, Dartanyon, Erik and yours truly took live questions from a worldwide twitter audience and addressed in depth earlier questions that we received from our recent post–about everything the basics of our strategy to the subtle and the scalable parts that make this worthwhile to almost anyone.

We’ll keep an eye out for the comment section below for this post and do our best to answer any other topics/questions we may have missed. Surely there’s plenty.

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Alon says:

Nice Video!
Question: Do you convert your RAW files to DNG files?
Is safe to have just de DNG file, or do i need the .RAW (orignal camera) too?

Thanks for that article

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Tom says:

I really enjoyed the follow up video and would be very interested in more video content on the workflow around Aperture. I would like to see a paid class with Dartanyon or Eirk on the subject of Aperture workflow without all the backup topics. I think your suggestions on backup have been noted. Also I purchased a book called “The DAM Book” by Peter Krogh and it truly covers all your backup questions,needs for all photographers.
Keep up the great advice.

Tom says:

Another question for Aperture and workflow. When you are on location and have downloaded files to your field drives how do you manage the referenced files when they get back to the Studio or base camp. In the video you use referenced files and when you move referenced files from one volume to another they are no longer connected. Do you have a process for migrating the data to avoid this?

When I relocate Raw files and library file I often have to reconnect them until they are on the server.

Dartanyon says:

Yup. You just click on them and re associate them to the “new” masters on the server.

Tom says:

Hey I have a quick question about Aperture and the library tab. What does your projects,folders and such look like in the Aperture software. Does it look identical to your system level folder management? I’m trying to set up a similar system and it would be helpful to more about how you manage files in the Aperture software.

Do you re import your psd files or livework files back into the Aperture library or at this point do you no longer use Aperture after the Raw work has been completed?
Thank you very much

Dartanyon says:

It does look identical to the finder’s structure. So … Project Folder / Date folder / then by Card-Camera. We don’t re import any PSDs or anything once the RAW work has been done, all of those files live in their own place on the server, the live work area.

Eric Rudd says:

I’m a bit confused on your use of Time Machine. Do you guys need to change the TM options on the server to allow it to do backups to different target drives? If so, how do you automate this switch?

Thank you very much.

Dartanyon says:


In fact we don’t automate the process at all, every Friday evening it starts from scratch. Creating a new time machine on the new disk.

João Santos says:

how do you guys going to do with Xserve will no longer be available after January 31. Will you guys use a windows server, linux or a macmini or macpro? Thanks

DanielKphoto says:

Hey Chase, great video, but I wonder, in what file format do you deliver your work to the client? Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us anyway :-)

Marius says:

You’re using Time Machine to back up everything to an external HDD. I’m just wandering whether you’ve ever actually used it? That is, whether your main HDD cracked and you used Time Machine to recover what you’ve worked for in the past 2 days for example.

I did, and it didn’t worked. Although both are made by Apple and are supposed to work in harmony (you would expect that at least from Apple) Aperture does not work well with Time Machine. I did everything I was supposed to do, I backed everything on an external HDD using Time Machine set to back up every hour. When the main HDD cracked and I tried to recover the aperture library through Time Machine from the external HDD, everything broke down. It could not do it.

Every time it does a back up, in my case every hour, Time Machine backs up the new information just added in the past hour. So if the information added is some editing in Aperture, then it backs up that editing. But it does not put it all together. So when the time comes to recover it, the information is there, but it is useless since you cannot open it as a library. All you have is a folder with millions of folders and files, named with numbers. Not only that, but the edited versions are not couple with the raw images. Instead of looking yourself through the millions of random named folders to find where your photos are, you’re much better of reediting everything from scratch. It’s a mess. In other words, its useless. If your HDD fails, don’t count on Time Machine to recover your Aperture Library because it won’t. The only way to ensure the safety of a library is to export it yourself on the external HDD.

I was very disappointed to discover that Time Machine cannot do what is supposed to do, it cannot, competently and reliably, back up Aperture. At the moment the only reliable method for back up I can think of besides manually exporting the library, is mirroring in Raid 1.

You might be using an expensive external safe g-technology HDD with Time Machine and have the felling of safety, when in fact the contribution to safety brought by Time Machine is 0.

Again, this is short term back up, but even if short term, if we do it, we want it to be reliable.

My final question is: did you use Time Machine to recover an Aperture LIbrary? If yes, did it worked? If it did, how did you do it because I and other people have gotten busted by it. If no, would you do a testing?

Thanks guys!

David says:

Hey guys,
I think I found the correct place to post this question!

I’m just now opening my 15th 2TB drive this year and have old hard drives strewn around like Zip disks, I’m wondering if there is a better way to manage the new and old hard drives.

Your studio uses a LOT of hard drives and is constantly upgrading, replacing, mirroring and off-site-ing individual drives. How do you name them and label them to avoid confusion and ambiguity? Do you simply reuse the same names, kinda like the new Dread Pirate Roberts?

I understand that the RAID drives would have their requirements, but what about the smaller single drives like LiveWork that are rotated. Does each drive name stay LiveWork and get swopped out so that it is invisible to the Aperture system or is each drive given a suffix? (or is it just written on the enclosure that this drive is “LiveWork “B” circa 2010″?)

How do you handle the labeling of upgraded capacity drives and archiving old hard drives? Does the physical hard drive get tagged with it’s volume name and date and the replacement drive still keep the same volume name?


super piece, guys. thanks so much. back is so important yet so overlooked by most.

one question: your g-speed 4 drive raid that you keep backups offsite with. how is that configured? RAID 0 or RAID 5?


Dartanyon says:

Ted, the back up is configured RAID 0, It probably could be 5, but in the case that it is really the back up of an already RAID 5 volume, it doesn’t seem necessary.

Jonathan says:

I understand about the naming of files that you guys use. How do you go about matching the naming to the folder structure? Do you use Aperture 3 to do this or some other program? I would appreciate if you would provide some more detail into this.

Rob says:

Thank you for the info on the workflow. I’ve watch every video on Chase workflow. I understand the part of transferring data to the server, what I’m missing is how does the your Aperture look on the workstation? Meaning do you import just that project to your workstation or do you have one big Aperture Database that can be viewed from the desktop?

I would love to see a video on taking your project from the server to your workstation. It would give us a chance to see how Chase sets up his workstations.

thank you

Chris Alwin says:

Thanks for the great video, any idea when its going to be on the podcast? Really loved the pictures from you trip to asia, chase. Also is the best cam app coming to android or just staying i phone only?

Daf says:

When you or guests mention useful stuff in these – it would be great if you could add links to your blog pages here, or youtube.
Or/and maybe a summary at the end.

Not so lazy that I don’t mind finding stuff myself – but just now I came back to this with a “Oh – what was that software he mentioned”.
Didn’t fancy scrolling through 1:23 to find the name.
Luckily I#’d already downloaded it! ha – clever me ;)

Anyway, for others – MPEG Streamclip :

Tim says:

Hi Guys,

I’m curious as to how you make use of the dual card slots on the D3’s. Do you have one back up the other?

If so, do you download both just in case one of them has an encrypted file?


Jonathan says:

How would you go about if you used a laptop and desktop. I would use my desktop in a studio and my laptop in the field. After I am done from shooting and downloading from the field, would I then merge the library? I am trying to do something similar to you but instead I want one big library and not alot of smaller libraries. Is my thought on how to do this right. Would it work even if I backed up to an external hard drive and then used the external to import into the main aperture library?

ray lopez says:

i was just wondering why you guys only use apple equipment? i know some photographers personally and they all prefer macs but when i ask them why, they cant seem to give me a reasonable answer to going mac over pc.

great video and very informative. thanks guys!

rix weber says:

I just love your videos. they have this chit-chat feeling that makes me wanna go grab a bottle of wine and spend some time at my pc like with some ol’ good friends… :)

Karl Arndt says:

Were can I see more about your travel laptop case. Construction, specs.
Thanks for all the great work you guys share.
Very sincerely,
Denver, Colorado

Felix says:

I have a really big problem with my refernced photos in Aperture and hope someone can help me.
I moved all my photos (all are refernced) from my external hard drive to a new one using Finder. The new hard drive has the same name as the old one (“MyBook”). So I thought Aperture would find my photos without any problems, but no photo were found anymore.
Ok, so I thought, that is not a problem and wanted to simply reconnect the photos. This took some time and I thought everything should be fine now. But I was wrong:
I have some RAW+JPG (RAW is master) photos and now Aperture finds the RAW file but not anymore the JPG. The RAW and JPG are of course at the same location, but I think Aperture did only reconnect the RAW files. The crazy thing it didn’t happen to all my RAW+JPG… Only a few projects are concerned.
I have tried reconnecting them again but without any success…
Do you know how I could fix this?
I would really appreciate it :)

brec says:

hey CJ Inc. Team,

out of interest, out of all these shoots, test shoots, iphone, etc. – how do you organize the photos that are considered for portfolio or to be shown to a client at some point?

CF Cards – I never heard a clear statement of the lifecycle of a card, what do say how long or how many re-writes can you use them?

thanks in advance!

Cody says:

How exactly do you migrate your files from your location laptop to your studio computer in Aperture?

Ben Robinson says:

Question to Chase and Team and also other users… Do you add keywords when Importing?

I use Aperture and don’t really have the need for keywords as yet but I wonder what’s the pro’s/con’s?

claude etienne says:

Hi guys,

Very insightful. Thanks for taking the time to do this. From what I’ve read, RAID creates redundancy and not true backup. By that I mean that if someone hooks up their RAID unit to a virus infected desktop, then the RAID unit will also be infected. RAID also doesn’t protect from data corruption. So, my question is. How do I create a true backup and how do I prevent a RAID unit from being infected by a virus if my desktop computer is infected?

@Jonathan: I haven’t had any experience with Drobo but I’ve read quite a few horror stories about Drobo on forums. The nail in the coffin for me was the experience that photographer Drew Gardner had with Drobo. He had to return 4 Drobo Pro units and lost valuable data. For me that’s an unacceptable failure rate and I would not trust Drobo with my data.

W says:

Love this and agree that this was more of a data integrity than photographic work flow, but still great information. Love the Chase Live, blogs, Best Camera iPhone app (just updated, yay!). I’m definitely a fan. I keep active files on the laptop with backups on DVD and portable hdd, plus cloud backup.

Since you mentioned cloud backup services, I wanted to plug the company I use (no affiliation). Backblaze ( is only $5 per month for unlimited backups from one computer. I like the fact that there is nothing to configure – they just back up your entire system. You can retrieve individual files or they can send you a hard drive. Fortunately I haven’t had to use them. Unfortunately, I found them after I suffered a catastrophic hdd failure and data recovery quotes are coming back at four figures! I certainly learned my lesson, if not a little too late.

You should check out their blog post on how they built their own rack storage “pods” that you can buy – 67TB for less than $8G.They also released the plans open source so you can build one yourself.

Jonathan says:

Why don’t you use a Drobo from Data Robotics to backup your photos and videos? I think that you guys would benefit from it tremendously.

Shannon says:

May be a stupid question, but how do you transfer large size video files off to your external harddrive? I have a multi-GB video that I’m trying to transfer, but it seems to be too large of a file…

Hi guys, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help as my system was designed from scratch and seems almost identical to yours except we use Caldigit Raid 5 Arrays instead of the rack mounted Gtech unit. What I want to know is, if you never delete footage (which we also go for) how do you do a sync’d off-site copy of what’s on that GTECH Raid / Server? We have been relying on the RAID 5, like you, but what if it’s stolen or burnt to a crisp? I know you said you have an off-site drive – 8TB Gtech or something. But 64TB is a lot more than 8TB so how do you split that up and maintain a sync’d off-site copy?

It’s the last piece in my puzzle and I’d suuuure like to find it!

By the way… big fan… big!

Hi Chase and team

Some specific questions I still haven’t found an answer for:

1. I remember in the first workflow and backup post on the blog you stated to never download or backup through any piece of software, but instead just use OS functionality (plain copy-paste) for security reasons (having a clean copy of the original RAW file, software could be buggy). Looks like you do it differently now if I understand it right (downloading and backing up through Aperture). Why?

2. How you verify the downloads from the CF cards? Any tip how to beware of surprises later (corrupt files), if you have a big shoot with 4000+ images every day and maybe not the time to inspect every image in LR/Aperture before reformatting the cards? I had corrupt RAW files caused by a bad card reader lately. Re-downloading the cards with another card reader solved the problem. But that was only possible because I hadn’t reformatted the CF cards yet. I usually check amount of files and actual byte size after a download, but this did not reveal the corrupt images created by the bad card reader. Scary experience. How to beware of that in the future?

3. How you verify the data integrity when you move files around (e.g. from location drives to the sever in the studio and later to the offsite drives) and be sure nothing got corrupt on the way there? Do you use any software to check? I can’t imagine you use a bit by bit verification as this would take a very long time for the data you produce.

Thanks to clarify!

Juan says:


What do you think of Final Cut Server? I know you use Aperture for cataloging.
Did you consider Final Cut Server over Aperture for the backend?


Daf says:

Woo – long one.
I’d say this one was definately more on data backup/integrity – not really photo workflow. All good though.

Reminds me we at work might need a new NAS.
Looking stuff up – G-Force non-rack mounts seem to be limited to 4 drives. Might go for Qnap – they do up to 8.

piero ferrari says:

Hi Chase!

Do you have only one, big Aperture Library, on your server, or do you have an aperture library per each project?
And in the part of the server where do you storage your RAW files, this files are in a library or just in folders?

jamesd3rd says:

I liked both the original and follow-up. I was hoping that a continuation would be done. I didn’t quite follow the scenario explaining multi-day shoots however. Not that it would be relevant to me, but let’s say hypothetically you had a 2-day shoot on Oct 11-12 for acme widgets.

According to your explanation, the project name takes on the first day of the shoot. I interpret that to be 20101011_acme_widgets_day1. So I assume that embedded in the file name, you add day1 or day2 whatever the case may be depending on what day you’re on correct? So all the child folders would be day1 and day2. Within those child folders, you have the camera folders?

What happens to the naming convention on day 2? Do you change it to 20101012? Or does it remain the same but with the day2 added on?

Something like this?

|__ 20101011_acme_widgets_day1
| |___cam1
| | |__20101011_acme_widgets_day1_cam1_8387.nef
| |___cam2
| |__20101011_acme_widgets_day1_cam2_7217.nef
| |__20101011_acme_widgets_day2_cam1_9436.nef

Felix says:

I also have a question about your folder system, but maybe someone else here can help me too.
How do you add day1 and cam1 using Aperture? I can tell Aperture to create a folder based on the date and also based on the project name, but how do you add information about the day and the cam?
My preset looks like this:
So the first (???) supposed to be the day and the second the cam, but I don’t get it how to create that preset. I thought I can just add a custom field, for which I enter the info on each import IN the import dialog. All I’ve found was a custom field, but I have to enter the information in the preset settings.

Rick Koetter says:

Awesome! I was so bummed when I missed this live and I can’t wait to watch it! Thanks again for sharing!!!

Hello Chasejarvis,

Great vid, but i still don’t get the picture with the workflow Aperture+photoshop.
When i’m store my raw images on the server it creates a map with the pictures so far so good.
But how do you import the images, do you keep the images at there current location or store them in your Aperture Library?
I use keep at current location. So when I’m finished with the project, all metadata and editing the picture, I have to export the Aperture library as well to keep those settings on my pictures.
Within these aperture package there are several things;

So the Raw image won’t be harmed at any time. But what now?? Do you export it again as a new library or what? Because when a client want the image from last year with the settings that you made to it how do you get it back on screen?

The process between RAW – APERTURE – OPEN THE EDITED PICTURES from last year? Do you open a Aperture Library or do you import the pictures, if so you don’t have all the metadata and settings.

Sorry if my English writing isn’t as good, I’m from the Netherlands.

Greetings, Levin den Boer.

dartanyon says:

We’d store the aperture library and re-export the needed photos if we had to go back to particular photos.

Peter Frank says:

hello Dartanyon,

saw the workflow video – great stuff and inspiration. But how do you copy the camerafiles from the Powerbook simultaneous to the G-Drive SSD ?? Do you use a program to mirrow them on the extern SSD ? Please let me know.

Ben Robinson says:

A follow up question if that’s alright with you guys.

Do you organise stills and video (from the same project) within separate folder structures too?

For example:


Within that goes folders:

‘20101005_CJLIVE_D3_VIDEO_2345.MOV’ and ‘20101005_CJLIVE_D3_STILLS_2346.NEF’

Thanks again!

dartanyon says:

Ben the video is just another camera, so those clips will fall into a subfolder just like when we switch cards.

Ben Robinson says:

Ok great, thanks for the response Dartanyon!

Ben Robinson says:

Thanks again for this post Chase and Team and thanks for answering my question!

Frank says:

Thanks for reposting the episode. Been looking forward to seeing it.

Derek Kneblewski says:

I love the Banksy art on the back of the laptop. great vids as per usual.

Greatness, was sad I missed it.

Keri says:

Awesome, cheers for this guys, much appreciated.


Mike Padua says:

Thanks for all the work you guys do, and for sharing your insight and experience!

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