Workflow: Revision


You take photos. You film moments. You own thousands of songs. You are cinephiles. Your homework is primarily online. You have heaps of digital content that you rely on hourly!

We heavily invest our lives into these Apple devices–like your MBA and iPhone–sometimes to be left dumbstruck and clueless when they malfunction. In order to make sure your devices work WITH you and not against you, learn to organize your digital life.

One of the most important things you'll learn from the newMedia Lab is how to manage all this digital content to retain its quality, organization, and safety (from deletion).

Organizing your files

It's imperative to figure out a system of organizing your files that works for you. Here at TGS, I organize the school's media archive like this:

2013_08 19 Classrooms
2013_08 20 Ultimate Frisbee with Indus

I have found that this is an optimal way to organize my folders because they are shallow, not deep. This file structure makes it easier for Spotlight search to locate files. I also like the chronological order and helpful descriptions.

At home, I organize my life experiences by years and months, which is why my organization looks like this:

My footage - 2012 - 09 Student Orientation
My work - 2012 - 08 Argentina - Visa forms

Think of each dash ( - ) above as going into another folder. If it's easier for you to categorize your files by place, you could create folders like so:

Argentina - Academic work - ESS - "2012 09 23 Assignment 6"

The important thing is to find what organizational system works best for you!

This system should be implemented on your Google Drive for school work and your MBP/external hard drive for media, so you know where all your files live.

When you are making multiple drafts of work and want to see this progression, consider naming your files in a way that allows you to find all versions sitting together in your computer and clearly find the most recent version. It helps to make this simple and memorable, so you can apply it regularly and have a common organization method to search for.

What about those pre-made folders like Documents, Pictures, and Movies? Make it a part of your practice to keep Documents clean, clear Movies to only hold active FCPX events and projects (if not on external), and save only webcam pictures that would probably seem like a waste of time to back up.

Back that work up

"If it doesn't exist in two places, it doesn't exist."
-Alex Lindsay of Pixel Corps

Installing Google Drive on your computer allows you to have readily accessible back-ups of your school work. Google Drive has expanded your storage size from 5GB to 30GB, but with all the filming and media creation you do at TGS, I still recommend storing your media elsewhere...just photos might be okay.

P.S. Don't forget to sync your work offline by clicking on Settings (the top right "gear" icon and then settings in its dropdown menu) and then checking the box for Offline, as seen below.


Frequently use Time Machine to back up your MBP with an external hard drive. This makes a mirror image of your entire hard drive that's easy to unpack and find what you need (given your MBP is well-organized). If you are starting to lose space on your external hard drive, Time Machine will start deleting the oldest back-ups, meaning your older work you've deleted off your MBP could be lost.

Ideally, you should be able to last a school term without completely losing space on your MBP and external hard drive. Then, when you go home, you can use yet another external hard drive (that lives at home) to make sure all your work from that term is kept safe. When you return to school for the next term, you won't have to worry about your updated back-ups knocking out your work from last term.



Make sure YOU KNOW and are able to prove to yourself that your content lives in two places. Having that organizational system for your photos, films, music, homework, etc. makes it easy to double-check in your hard drives and cloud locations. Good cloud locations for media include Flickr (premium is worth it) and Vimeo (free version is just fine).

If you don't keep your eye on this, you might end up like me a couple years back... 

Respect your tools!

Anyone: Whose computer is that?

You: It's the school's, but I'm taking care of it.

imageThat's what your response should be, and that's the mantra you should repeat when working with your school technology. We are a very lucky institution that supports a 3:1 device set-up for students (and faculty!), and we must respect this as though we are all being knighted by Steve Jobs himself.

Treat your devices properly. Store them in dry and mild-temperatured place. Travel with them like they're your babies. Don't let them get water-logged on a walk home from school. Don't yank a USB cord out of the side like an animal; always eject them nicely to avoid the screaming "you did it wrong!!!" error message. Hopefully by now, this sort of advice doesn't need to be explicit, because you have grown up treating technology like it's meant to be treated.

Software updates

Do them as soon as possible, as often as the App Store calls for it. If your computer asks you to update Final Cut Pro X, speak with Lindsay or Mike, and you will receive a link to download the most recent update on the application. This is due to the license we have as a school of our beloved FCPX.

Managing your applications

Press and hold "Command" then tap "Tab" to see all the applications you have open on your computer. If you have a lot open, or if you have multiple apps along with iPhone/iMovie, that might be why your computer gets so hot or crashes often.

In order to maintain battery life and keep your computer functioning quickly, only have necessary apps open at any given time.

The right applications

Importing media: When you pull your images or footage from a camera to your computer or external hard drive, use Image Capture (spotlight search or find in your Applications folder). You can set this program as the default anytime you plug in your camera. This program doesn't create copies or save your files in obscure places. They go where you tell them to go: desktop, pictures folder, external hard drive, you name it.

Why do I despise iPhoto and iMovie? Both create unnecessary copies of everything you input, thus overloading your storage and giving you no room to let your computer function. Also, they are just awful.

Video: Apple prescribes closing iMovie every 10 minutes. I promise; I called them once about it. Really, Apple? Rather not. Instead, we will use Final Cut Pro X in order to edit our films.

Photo: iPhoto also loves to exhaust your MBP. We have provided Adobe Creative Suite CS6, which includes Bridge and Photoshop. Bridge is a great sorting platform* that allows you to metatag, rate, or organize your photos/video clips. Think of it as a multi-functional Finder. It's integrated with Photoshop, so that if you single out images you'd like to edit and double-click, they open in this lovely editing software.

*An important thing to note is that Bridge does not HOLD your media files but instead allows for a more functional window into your media folders and files.

Disk Utility

If you are having issues with your software, you might, on occasion, have to launch Disk Utility and sort things out. Start by verifying the disk (your main hard drive) and then repairing whatever it identifies as an error. If you need to perform more complex tasks in Disk Utility, meet with the onsite tech support person to get your computer up and running again.

The bottom line

It's really up to you what your workflow is for media work, homework, leisure time, but I know that these applications and methods of staying light and organized have proven themsleves successful for maintaining your devices for many years...as well as getting your work done well and on time.

What's your perferred workflow? What do you do to respect your Apple devices?