With EX1, HVX200, and other cameras that shoot to memory cards becoming more popular every day, the work flow on sets is changing. Log and capture used to be an important phase of post-production, but now, data transfer is a part of production. Weâ€™ve had our share of trial and error here at dvDepot trying to figure out how the future is going to look.
1. What to call them?
Nobody seems to have any idea of what to call this position. Data wrangler comes up a bunch. More common is â€œa guy to, like, do transfers and stuff.â€ Some people just call them camera utilities or assistant cameras. We eventually settled on memory card transfer technician, so that the duties are specific. Weâ€™ll shorten this to â€œcard techâ€ or â€œtransfer techâ€ most of the time.
2. Can a camera utility or AC do this?
A lot of utilities will know how to do this. But a lot donâ€™t. We sent one of our best utilities on a job to do P2 transfers and he ended up taking twice as along as expected. Any time there was a problem with the camera, he jumped in to help fix it. This is what heâ€™s good at, so it makes sense. This shoot also only ordered two 16GB cards per camera for several multicam interviews in a pretty short time. He had to be constantly dumping and wiping cards to keep up with shooting. We didnâ€™t have time for him to do anything else.
3. Can I send an editor or assistant editor?
Itâ€™s tempting to send post people out. They have experience doing file transfers. They know the different formats post requires. We had an editor out once who really knew the transfers down pat and how to format the drives. However, when the camera decided not to recognize the memory card, he had no idea what to do. We sent one of our in-house technicians to solve the problem pretty quickly, but somebody without any knowledge of using the camera on set is missing an important piece of the puzzle.
4. How do you keep the cards organized?
We worked on one shoot when they were making fast transfers. The transfer tech noticed that he was missing the last batch of footage from camera B. None of the cards were labeled. We had to go through each card again and figure out which one had the missing footage. Most camera operators know to label their tapes, but some overlook labeling their memory cards. Labeling your cards is more important than labeling your tapes because cards will be wiped and then the footage is lost forever.
Most people donâ€™t realize it, but P2 cards have an area on the back that is designed for using dry erase markers. You can easily label the cards with A2 or something similar. SxS cards unfortunately donâ€™t have this same convenience. For now, we use paper tape because gaff tape is too thick and can get stuck in the camera. The important thing is training our transfer techs in making sure that all cards are labeled and that they never accept a card from a camera without it being properly labeled.
5. So who do you send?
We decided that we needed people who are specifically suited to being card transfer techs. They need experience working on set, often as an AC or camera utility. The techs are often called upon to assist in the camera department and they need to be prepared. Additionally, the best candidates are often trained editors. They understand the problems that can arise with file transfers and can deal with them. A lot of our techs are working toward becoming full time editors. Using this as our starting criteria, we have recruited a pool of freelancers who are specifically assigned as transfer card technicians.
By finding the right people to handle the job and making sure the process they use is correct, weâ€™ve turned memory card transfers into a smooth process. We are curious to find out how other people are dealing with this situation. Let us know what youâ€™re doing in the comments below.
If youâ€™re shooting with a camera that uses memory cards, we highly recommend assigning a qualified crew member to this position. If youâ€™re like to hire somebody from dvDepot, please contact our crewing department, by emailing [email protected] or by calling 212.333.5100.