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I'm over my head in a big project that is going to generate an enormous number of files and I want to establish some order before I get buried.

I'm curious as to how everyone else organizes their files.

What kind of naming scheme do you use? How do you handle the different types of assets (models, actions, audio files, decals, materials, etc.)?

I wonder if there is a hierarchy that is most transportable and doesn't cause A:M to have look for assets if you transfer it to another drive?
I'm not so much worried about it being transportable, but I want to eliminate clutter, redundancy and avoid having multiple files with the same name.

Ideally, I'm shooting for having it modular enough that I can archive episodes as they are completed, but still bring them back in if I need to (like to make an HD version).

There's just sooo many files that get generated in the production of something like this. Having a purposeful place for each one is difficult.

John Bigboote
Do you use the library feature? Sounds like it might help. I am a bad example... I am a file slob. I have one main folder where I throw everything, models that have a lot of assets will get their own sub-folder. I need to learn to use the library feature.
I don't think I'd work well with the Library feature. I can see its usefulness in bringing in assets, but I know where my assets are.

Like you, I usually have a project folder that has some structure, but still has lots of loose files. I had a decent system when I was doing the Wannabe Pirates, but the post files were easy to keep up with. There was a single image rendered for each panel, a single Illustrator file for each strip, etc.

Animation, I find, can be much messier. In addition to all of the A:M files (and associated decals, rotoscopes, etc.) add thousands of rendered frames, audio tracks and all the files I stick into AfterEffects and Premiere and before long, it's a jumble.

Not a disaster when it's just the one thing, but this is a SERIES, so I'm going to have to reel it in some. :-)
Here is a suggested file/folder system that is sorta similar to what was used on SO:

Episode 1
..prjs, cho's, .wav, script
Episode 2
Episode N
Shared Data
....Actor 1
........jpgs's, tga's, etc
....Actor 2
....Actor N
....Set 1
........jpgs's, tga's, etc
....Set N
..Shared Props
....Prop 1
........jpgs's, tga's, etc
....Prop N
..Shared Materials
A:M Renders
..Episode 1
....tga's, avi's, mov's, pngs
..Episode 2

AE, Premiere Data
...Episode 1
....aep's, ppj
....additional assets
......jpgs, tgas, etc
...Episode N
What Nancy showed there is pretty much how I've organized my stuff. Here's my main "My Animation Master" directory.

I've also given the models directory structure for reference.

Image - Rendered Frames    
Images - Displacement    
Images - Foliage Masks    
Images - Other Masks    
Images - Signage    
Images - Skys & Backgrounds    
Images - Space Backgrounds    
Images - Textures    
Images - Water    
    AM Bootcamp    
    Bridges and Highways    
    polygon models    
    TWO Project    
Post Effects    
Reference Material    
Render Pools    
Sound Effects    
Thanks, Nancy! Very inspiring...

So here's how I think I'm going to set this up to start with. I'll adjust as I go:

Click to view attachment

At the Top Level, I'm going to have a folder for all the Paunk Show Assets. Subfolders will house the assets for the Paunk show wraparounds. The cho folder here will hold choreographies that have built sets, etc.

Similarly, I'll have a folder for Parody Assets. They'll be the same structure as the Paunk Show Assets folder, just in individual subfolders for each property.

The Final Files folder will have the final videos for each episode that are ready to upload, as well as the DVD files.

The Promotional folder will be where I'll put all the non-production files. Ads, graphics etc.

The Working Files folder will have a subfolder for each episode.

The Episode subfolder will have folders for: Pre-Production, Production, Rendering and Post-Production

Pre-Production will hold all the things that are accumulated prior to actually starting the episode. I'm not doing storyboards, but they could go here if I were.

Production will have the working choreographies, audio files and I'll have a folder for saving my shaded Quicktime renders.

Rendering will have a place for final choreographies, renders and the Photoshop Docs I create to do color correction, etc.

Post-Production will be where I can put all of the AE & Premiere Files, as well as the final Quicktime movies rendered from Photoshop & AE.

I'm also going to stick in a Miscellaneous folder in each section to give me a place to dump stuff that don't seem to fit.
Looks like a good start to me. Don't forget to back stuff up in more than one location. Dual-Layer DVDs are wonderful for directory or project backups.

Thanks. I think having some structure will make backing up easier. And I should be able to archive episodes as they are finished, meaning I'll only have to keep the current episode folder on my hard drive.

I think, too, that I'm going to make the Audio folder in the Production folder the low-quality wav files and put the high quality files in the Post-Production folder.

I think creating subfolders for types of models (similar to what you show in your directory) is a good idea, too.

Who knows if I'll be able to maintain the organization, but at least now I have a place to start. :-)
Nancy's scheme really is a great way to go. It's so easy to find things that way.
I'll stare at yours as well but at a glance there was only one thing that popped out to me.

I'm also going to stick in a Miscellaneous folder in each section to give me a place to dump stuff that don't seem to fit.

I can't remember the whys and wherefores but something/someone convinced me that Misc folders were to be avoided.
The problem with Misc folders is they are on their face just collections of random (unorganized) files.

Somehow I ended up with pretty much the same thing as a 'Misc' folder but I call it 'Archives'.
Note that there is a subtle but important difference between these two labels because they imply the process that is being used.
With an Archive the whole point is to maintain/extend the organization of your files and folders while documenting.
Whereas 'Misc' is an unorganized collection, 'Archives' is intended to be organized, even if only at a later time.
In practice anything that you run into in a folder that doesn't belong there is either 1) moved to where it belongs or 2) Archived

What this means practically is that every folder you create can have an associated Archive. It doesn't have to but your most active folders will probably have one. If the assets you are looking for in a particular area of the production cannot be found they are more than likely in the Archive.

Why bother with this methodology?
It adds the element of Rapidity to (temporarily) organizing your files.
If something isn't needed in a folder drag and drop it out of the way into the Archive.
Later in the production cycle, when you are not in the peak creative mode, you'll put on a different hat and organize that Archive.
If in looking into the Archive you see it already well organized you can simply rename the title of the Archive and move it to where it should reside.

Underneath it all I believe is our understanding of what the words Archives means to us versus the word Miscellaneous.
Archives gets us into a mode of backing up, organizing and preserving files whereas Miscellaneous files are unknown, unrelated or simply set aside.

I should also say that I feel I have moved one step beyond this scheme of Archiving but I haven't quite locked down my approach to that.
It's hush/hush secret proprietary stuff that helps me (in theory!) be more organized and more productive.
An element of it is that any key to rapidity must work on/with/against the principle of 'garbage in. garbage out.'
In this realm we need something to play the opposite role that is played by the Archives folder which is one of collecting, storing and categorizing useful assets; that's the backend of the store. At the front end is Research and Development which is required in the rapid collection and processing of useful information and ideas that need to be assessed, procured, prepare, processed and fed into the project.

So, a whole lot of words here to say I think you need two folders that bookend your project; one for information and assets flowing in (Research and Development) and one for those you aren't currently using (Achives). Note that for our purposes here Archives is also a (temporary) waste folder.

One final addition. wink.gif
You need some type of journal. While this could double as your Research and Development folder I confess I alter the way I implement this one from time to time (most due to not having a consistent project to work on but I think to keep the process itself fresh and interesting vs unbearably boring). Something that has helped me in the arena of documentation is to create a folder with the current date and then add matters of interest for that day into that folder. The benefit of this is that it helps you sort through the issues of the day quickly and keep moving toward your goal. The downside to this naming scheme is that after that day has passed you cannot determine by the title of the folder alone the contents of the folder. Of course this is where the search function of your computer comes in and it's always a good idea to leverage the power of search tools when the goal is rapid processing of information. The most important thing about these journal entries however is that they are documenting your journey. If later on you have any question about where a particular idea came from or where an asset is located important clues will be found here in the journal. Important processes will be recorded. Important ideas not yet explored. And all of this because you took the time to keep a journal.

Note: If using the date as the journal folder title my recommendation is to use the following format; "20120204 (plus title, description or focus as necessary)". This will allow your operating system to automatically sort them.

So, to recap:

Journal folder (Titled by Date)
Purpose: Document your Journey

R&D folder (Titled by Subject)
Purpose: Organize assets for use in your project

Production folders (Titled by Production Number)
Purpose: Keep the Production simple and organized

Archives: (Titled by Subject) Usually only added to a folder as a previous file in that folder is superseded
Purpose: Temporarily store assets that are not being used

Backup: (Copies of Originals - More preferrably the originals!)
Purpose: Maintain the original files or authenticated (tested) copies in a safe and secure location

The above is a general system of file structure I try to use mostly because otherwise I am a very disorganized person.
More accurately, even with the above I am still a disorganized person. wink.gif
That was a long way to go to suggest something, Rodney ...and still I'm not swayed. :-)

Although the point has some validity in the case of a general Misc folder, these folders are specific to their location and are just catch-alls for the random sort of things that can pop up. Test renders, etc. I would suspect most of them will remain empty.

EVERYTHING will be archived, so there's no point in having a folder called that.

We all, of course, work differently. :-) I was just curious to see how others approached this sort of thing.

Mine works for me and for this project. It accomplishes my stated goals (to make each episode modular and eliminate clutter, redundancy and files with the same names) and it makes sense to me and my workflow.

As far as the naming convention, I'm going to go with "tps001_01" indicating the production name, episode number and shot number. Dates are irrelevant to the production.

As to documenting the journey, that's what the Wannabe Way section is for. :-)
Whatever structure you work out for yourself will probably be the best one for you.

A couple of things I've noticed during the few large projects I've worked on.

* If I have several actors and many props, it is easier to find what I'm looking for if I have a separate "Actors" folder and "Props" folder.

* Have a top level folder for Sets, and in each set's folder include only a "base model" which is specific to that set (can be an empty model) and an "assembly" Action (where you assemble the set). The assembly action will pull in models from the Props folder.

*Even though you may use the same animation rig for all your characters, each actor's actions are often unique to that actor. An example would be that a walk cycle for a tall or fat actor will look horrible if you apply it to a short or skinny actor. I've found that it is easier to keep track of my actions if I put each actor's actions in an "actions" folder within the actor's folder. If I don't want a bunch of unique actions for each actor, then I lump them all in a top level Actions folder, but I use a consistent naming convention to make it easy to find what I'm looking for.

I use a fairly simple folder structure FWIW:

Click to view attachment

In my world; everything gets its own folder.
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