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Why Post-Production Pros Need Automated File Transfer

by | June 11, 2024

If, like me, you work in the media and entertainment industry, quickly and securely transferring massive amounts of media to the right artists at the right time is utterly foundational to keeping your creative business operations running at full speed.

That secret sauce to doing this data transfer accurately and efficiently? Automated file transfer.

Repetitive and error-prone manual processes, such as moving data from one system to another, are ripe for time-saving automation.

In this brief article, I will demonstrate the power and potential of automating file transfers of all kinds in your daily business operations and help you unlock time and cost savings by streamlining your media workflows.

Table of Contents

Why Manual File Transfer Is Inefficient and Insecure

Though familiar to us all, the main challenge with a manual approach to the transfer of large files or large numbers of files is that the process quickly becomes inefficient, unreliable, and error-prone.

This is especially true when manually sending several files to different recipients, as this quickly gets repetitive (aka boring!), which can, in turn, lead to a lack of focus. This can often lead to simple mistakes such as entering the wrong recipient email or storage platform, not password-protecting a transfer, or sending the wrong file.

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Source: Wes Hicks, Unsplash

Manual file transfers also require manual oversight. Someone needs to be present to initiate and monitor the transfer, taking valuable time away from more important tasks, while literally no one enjoys watching progress bars!

Other human errors, such as accidental data loss, incorrect file naming conventions, and interrupted or missed transfers can lead to costly delays and unreliable data. Because media file transfer pipelines often involve multiple touch points, doing it manually increases the risk of security breaches along the way.

The Timeline of a File

Let’s consider a common scenario: New footage has been shot on set, and you need to get it to editorial, pronto.

To do that it must be transferred from the set, processed by an assistant, and then delivered to the remote editor.

Here are the potential problems with a manual process:

  • Manual processes happen asynchronously and haphazardly.
  • Manual processes cause delays at each handoff point.
  • Transfer interruptions can lead to metadata loss or corrupt media.
  • If the above happens, repeat transfers are necessary, adding further delays and costs.
  • Multiple handoffs of sensitive media increase security risks.
  • Manual processes often lack chain-of-custody oversight or log creation.

As media file sizes and production shooting ratios continue to grow, the burden on creative staff to manage and coordinate endless transfers becomes increasingly cumbersome, needlessly consuming time, energy and creative resources that would be better spent elsewhere.

Yet there is a better way.

Benefits of Automating File Transfer for M&E Workflows

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Improved delivery reliability

The benefits of setting up an automated file transfer workflow for the dailies scenario depicted above are numerous but include:

  • Elimination of handoff delays and reduction in costs (both time and financial).
  • Fewer hands on potentially sensitive intellectual property, reducing the chances of a data leak.
  • Automated uploads of media to cloud storage or connected NAS storage.
  • Auto-completion of any interrupted transfers and automatic file corruption detection with checksum verification.
  • Instant handoffs using Watch Folders with automatically triggered scripted actions to send, receive, and store large media files with no coding required.
  • Chain of custody logs and audit trails for secure oversight.

Performance and speed

Setting up an automated workflow that seamlessly starts uploading or downloading media as soon as it’s available removes the need for a human to be around to press ‘go’ or notice that it has all arrived, leading to immediate and frequent time (and cost) savings.

In our production-to-post transfer scenario the assistant’s ability to start their day with media already waiting to be processed, instead of starting their day downloading media, delivers yet more time savings. An example of an automated file transfer workflow looks like this:

  • You can configure the upload portal receiving media from the DIT to transfer the files to a specific location (such as a cloud storage service or NAS), with the target directory set as a Watch Folder. A Watch Folder is a folder set up to automatically upload to portals or specific recipients whenever folders are dropped in.
  • The Watch Folder can be set to automatically download media to a local hard drive, rename files with a specific file-naming convention, or add metadata tags. All of which saves the editorial assistant time, effort, and, ultimately, money.

Scalability

Another benefit to using an automated, secure file transfer workflow is the ability for the data transfer to scale up or down instantly to handle wild fluctuations in data volumes without any deterioration of performance or reliability (unlike a stressed-out human when faced with a sudden increase in workload).

When the process is automated, it doesn’t matter how much data you throw into it; the system will process it all.

Productivity

When you automate file transfer, it makes creative teams productive and delivers compounding efficiencies day after day. Cloud-based managed file transfer can be set up in just a few minutes with no coding.

This ultimately frees up talented artists to focus on the profitable creative work they’re paid to perform rather than being bogged down in mundane file management and administration.

Automate Transfers with Ease

Sign-up for MASV today and try our automation features for free.

MASV’s Unique Automation Capabilities

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MASV is a large, secure file transfer platform that can handle single files up to 15TB (or unlimited packages of files) and offers cutting-edge automatic file transfer technology tailored to the unique needs of the M&E industry, such as easy-to-use upload Portals and scriptable Watch Folders.

Watch Folders

MASV’s Watch Folders can save you time and effort by:

  • Automatically sending files dropped into the folder to specific email addresses, such as final deliverables for clients or dailies for producers.
  • Automatically downloading files received to a MASV Portal to the Watch Folder—perfect for starting the day with last night’s file transfer.
  • Automatically upload new files in the Watch Folder to a MASV Portal, itself set to transfer to one or more cloud storage integrations, ideal for instant off-site backups and delivery.

Powerful Portals & API access

While MASV does offer a robust and powerful API to do smart things like automatically spin up a new upload Portal for every new client, one of the main advantages of using MASV is its no-code automation tools.

Even advanced Portals can easily be set up and configured in the desktop or browser UI so there’s no need to wait for the IT department to get around to coding something together—which is often the case when using a different managed file transfer solution.

No-code MAM & cloud integrations

MASV is also an ideal solution to quickly integrate with existing post-production workflows because it can automate your media transfers into and out of popular media asset management (MAM) systems and cloud video collaboration platforms such as LucidLink and Frame.io. MASV also features similar integrations with cloud storage platforms such as Amazon S3 and Google Drive.

Overcoming Challenges and Roadblocks

As a professional editor, I often find it surprising how cumbersome and feature-weak some industry standard file sharing platforms (often the entrenched players in the market) can be compared to newer, more nimble solutions.

While the benefits of file transfer automation software are clearly compelling, implementing a robust automation solution can sometimes be complicated.

The most common challenges of implementing most file transfer automation software, even those with automation, include:

  • Disruption of established workflows.
  • Complex IT integration requirements.
  • Dealing with change-resistant people and organizations.
  • Unsupported legacy hardware systems.

To overcome these obstacles, it pays to choose an MFT solution that offers seamless integrations with common cloud storage products like Google Cloud or Amazon S3 and provides a streamlined set-up and configuration process.

Automation tools with no-code or low-code integration capabilities can significantly simplify the set-up and roll-out of automatic file transfer, reducing the need for hiring external coding expertise and minimizing disruptions to existing workflows

Automating MFT vs. FTP

It’s also important to note that while file transfer protocol or FTP automation is possible, this technology often introduces annoying complexities, such as outdated FTP client software, command-line interfaces, and unnecessary security risks when your FTP or SFTP server is not configured correctly.

Modern file transfer automation solutions worth your consideration should prioritize user-friendly interfaces, robust security features, secure file sharing, and seamless integration with popular cloud storage platforms to make file sharing easy to set up and use.

No IT Department Required

Set up MASV’s file transfer automation in a few clicks—no coding required.

Getting Started: Practical Steps for Automated Workflows

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So, how do you actually go about automating your file transfer workflows?

Here’s a blueprint:

1. Conduct an audit

Map exactly what is involved in your current process of moving files through your file transfer system to identify bottlenecks, time-wasting inefficiencies, and places where automation could deliver the most impact.

2. Find touch points

Note the people, platforms, and procedures that a file touches as it moves through your pipeline. Opportunities to automate often lie in the links between these elements.

3. Be industry-specific

With many file transfer platforms available today, choose one that actively engages customers in the media and entertainment industry and supports the unique technical requirements of our high-volume, time-critical, and copyright-sensitive media.

4. Test every scenario

Test a platform that offers a scalable, secure and easy-to-use file transfer solution that can readily handle all of your secure file sharing needs, such as receiving hundreds of gigabytes of dailies or beautifully presenting the finished project to the client.

5. Evaluate the company

Do your due diligence and choose a product that is frequently updated with new features and integrations in order to keep pace with the rapid evolution of the post-production industry. Test out their customer service and request support and see how eager they are to help.

6. Test Again

When you set up your automated workflow, test it diligently before rolling it out to all your clients or your entire team. Discover non-obvious problems by getting the least technically savvy team member to give it a trial run.

An automated workflow might require some technical expertise to set up behind the scenes, but it should then be incredibly easy to use.

Workflow Automation Awaits

Don’t waste more of your time transferring media. Automate it with MASV.

Automate Your File Transfer Workflow With MASV

Automating your secure file sharing workflow offers clear benefits, including compounding efficiency gains, improved data security and oversight, instant scalability to handle any transfer volume, and reduction of human errors and staff availability delays. All these benefits ultimately help focus an artist’s valuable time on creative tasks and not data admin.

All of this has a real impact on your ability to turn around profitable work more efficiently.

Setting up a solution to automate file transfers may take a bit of time and practice, and adjustment to a new workflow, but you’ll easily get back that investment in your first few transfers.

It also helps to have the right software on your side when setting up automated file transfers. With its user-friendly interface, robust security features, and no-code integrations with popular cloud storage platforms, MASV enables media professionals like you and me to automate our file transfer processes with ease—giving you back a massive amount of valuable time and creative energy.

Soon you’ll start seeing automaion opportunities everywhere!

Want to get started? Sign up for MASV for free and get 20GB to transfer out of the box.

Get your first 20GB of Automated Transfers for Free

With 20GB of free transfers when you sign up to MASV, there’s no reason not to!