How To Send Raw Files and Video Footage

by Greg Wood | February 15, 2019

As a media professional (video editor, colorist, etc.), you have to spend a lot of time and energy thinking about your file delivery workflow. As you know, video files are already huge and hard to deliver, but the file size of raw video footage straight from a camera is massive.

Transferring raw files is a bottleneck for production schedules — which are often time-critical projects on tight budgets.

So, let’s break down some of the considerations you should keep in mind when you want to send raw files:

Did you know: The average size of a single hour of footage shot in 4K is 318 GB.

Table of Contents:

Sending RAW Files: Planning your Workflow

In a perfect world, any file you send, no matter the size, will arrive to the intended recipients in a reasonable amount of time. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, especially when dealing with raw video footage. The act of sending raw files is a job in it of itself and it requires careful planning. You need to consider:

  • The size of the file
  • How you will send the file (over the cloud, courier, parcel, etc.)?
  • The rate at which you will send and to how many people?
  • Internet speed

Let’s go through it.

How Large are Your Raw files?

When shooting high-quality video footage, you are likely to produce very large raw files. Before you kick off your on-set shoot, you should estimate how much footage you are likely to generate each day. Depending on the format, frame rate, and length you could have wildly different file size outputs.

Check this quick video file size calculator to make it easier to estimate your footage output.

Need to Send or Receive RAW Files?

How Do I Share a RAW File With Someone?

There are 3 primary options for handling deliveries that are greater than 20 GB in file size.

  1. Put it on a hard drive and ship it through the mail
  2. Courier your hard drive or hand-deliver it
  3. Send the data using an online file transfer tool

Each of these options has its place in your planning process.

Less than 20 GB

If you are sending less than 20 GB, something like Google Drive or Dropbox can make a lot of sense. At that size, cost should be your main concern instead of transfer time, as these services aren’t built to handle high-resolution video files.

More than 20 GB

Physical Transfer

If you are sending RAW files larger than 20 GB, then shipping hard drives is a logical option. But, shipping a hard drive is notoriously slow so you should only consider this as an option if you or the recipient do not have a large upload or download speeds.

If you are sending a lot of data but you’re only sending it locally, then it could make sense to courier a hard drive to its destination.

Another common scenario is that you’re shooting footage in the field and travelling back to the destination it’s being edited in. In this case, as long as you have enough storage capacity, it could make sense to bring a drive with you and hand-deliver it as long as that fits within the project timing.

Cloud File Transfer

Last but not least, the most scalable option is to send your data using an online file transfer service. If both you and the recipient have sufficient bandwidth this can be the most convenient option and the least prone to delays.

It offers the greatest flexibility to react to situations that are unanticipated with the fastest turnaround time. Tools like MASV are a good option in this instance.

You want to choose an online file transfer tool that can make the most of you and your recipients’ available internet speed. For example, many companies use FTP to handle their deliveries but due to issues with FTP underlying protocol (TCP), it is common for FTP to only send data at 10% of your total transfer speed.

MASV is built to send data at least 90% of your total available transfer speed over any distance.

Close up of the inside of a hard disk drive used to store raw files and video footage

How Often Are You Sending Raw Files?

Frequency matters when determining your file transfer workflow. As mentioned, if you have the storage capacity in the field, it makes sense to store all your raw footage on a drive and bring it with you on your way back. More often than not you will be on a tight production schedule and need to edit your files while the footage is being captured.

In this case, you can shoot your on-set footage and use MASV to transfer the raw camera files at the end of each day — from a location with a decent internet connection — back to the edit house.

Read More: Why Curiosity Stream Trusts MASV to Deliver Footage from Remote Parts of the World 🌏

This workflow allows you to reduce the amount storage on-hand in the field. It also makes it possible to start the editing process in parallel with the shoot.

Frequency also matters if you are on the broadcast side of this equation. Although you may be receiving more compressed footage, if you’re dealing with tens or hundreds of large deliveries per month, it is really important to have a system in place to handle these deliveries.

Depending on a postal service or FTP to move footage is not a reliable. Imagine losing a hard drive mid-delivery after already exhausting that day’s budget?

It is important to use a system that is designed to scale and makes it easy to manage your deliveries.

Fast, Cloud Delivery of Raw Video Footage

Send files from set or location to post using MASV.

How Many Users Need The Raw Files?

Let’s say you need to send a very large file to three recipients at the same time. Those three recipients are in different offices or parts of the world. In this case, you should consider using an online file transfer service instead of shipping a hard drive.

A hard drive can only be shipped to one location at a time. Otherwise, shipping a hard drive to more than one destination requires:

  • Someone to prepare and transfer the same set of files into separate drives (this includes buying extra drives).
  • Fill out the shipping information for each destination.
  • Provide payment for each shipment.
  • Track and monitor separate shipment status updates (and deal with potential delays).

An online file transfer tool can send to as many recipients as you wish at once without any extra effort and less cost.

MASV network reach

How Fast is The Internet Speed?

Your internet upload speed matters a lot when you are sending files online. To calculate your upload speed you can use a tool like speedtest.net. The way you translate upload speed into time estimates is by understanding how many megabytes per second you are capable of transferring at.

For all online transfers, you have to upload first — then have your users download second. In this scenario it is important to consider both the upload speed of the sender and download speed of the recipient. Something we like to refer to as ‘Turnaround Time‘.

For example, let’s say you are ready to send a raw file or a package of files adding up to 300 GB of data to a recipient.

  • 300 Gigabytes is equal to 300,000 megabytes
  • You have an internet connection of 37.5 megabyte per second (MB/s)
  • Your recipient has a 12.5 MB/s

To calculate how long it will take to transfer this file, divide the file size by MB/s. So, in the case of upload:

300,000 / 37.5 = 8000

 

In this instance it will take you 8,000 seconds — or 2 hrs 22 mins to upload the file. To get this number, divide 8,000 by 3600, the number of seconds in an hour.

On download it will take 24,000 seconds or 7 hrs 6 min to download.

The total duration of the end-to-end process will be at least 8 hrs 58 min.

File Size (MB) Transfer Speed (MB/s) Total Time (hr, min)
300,000 MB 37.5 (Upload) 2:22
12.5 (Download) 7:06
9:28

This is how you can estimate how long it will take to deliver a file using an online file transfer service and if its reliable enough to be an alternative to shipping a hard drive overnight.

We have made it really easy to calculate transfer time but here is the tricky part.

If you use a tool like Dropbox, Google Drive, or FTP you are unlikely to get transfer rates as fast as what the speed test tool claims you have. This is because cloud sharing tools and FTP are not designed to maximize your bandwidth. They are primarily built for moving around or syncing small files, not very large files that need to get to places on tight deadlines.

Imagine the above scenario at only 10% of your speed capabilities. That would mean the overall delivery would take 3 days 16 hours and 53 minutes.

Your choice of tools matter when dealing with the file sizes of raw footage. Investing in adequate internet connection, with a transfer tool that can maximize your bandwidth, is important if you’re serious about scaling your operations.

Maximize Your File Delivery

MASV uses all of your available bandwidth to supercharge your file transfers. 🔥

Raw Files: Plan For The Unexpected

When dealing with tight deadlines you should always a contingency plan in place. Never plan just for success because whatever can go wrong usually does.

Due to internet constraints, a lot of our users end up shipping hard drives for projects that make sense to do so. Our most experienced users will both transfer the data over MASV and ship a hard drive to safeguard against a single point of failure (if the cost of project delays outweigh the cost of multiple delivery methods).

Or, they will send the raw files on a hard drive and use MASV to quickly send proxy files so production teams can get started on their tasks.

Remember: it is much more difficult to re-send a new hard drive if it gets lost or delayed in customs than it is to load the files into MASV.

Having more then one method in your tool kit will protect you from surprises and make you keep your delivery promises. Ultimately, the best way to avoid delays is to plan for delays and have options for dealing with them.

To learn about how MASV is different from the legacy solutions to other offerings, check out our Alternatives section which highlights how MASV is different and better than other file transfer alternatives.

Conclusion

If you find yourself in a position where you have to send raw files and video footage, either from set or on-location, to members of your post-production team, there are many factors to consider.

  • First, before you even hit ‘Send’, you have to plan out your file sending workflow. This starts with examing your raw files to see how big they actually are.
  • Then, you have to decide how many people need to receive the files. This will determine your delivery method.
  • Then, you have to decide if you will ship the files on a hard drive or use a cloud file transfer solution. Shipping a hard drive can handle large file sizes but have a very slow turnaround time and can physically get lost or held up at the border. Cloud file transfer is a great way to send large files to multiple recipients, as long as your internet allows it.
  • And finally, always plan ahead for delays and roadblocks and have a contingency plan in place for the unexpected.

In either case, MASV is proven to be the best raw file transfer solution for time-critical files over 20 GB in size. MASV can send up to 5 TB with a single file, anywhere in the world, at max speed — which means your entire network bandwidth dictates MASV’s transfer speed. No throttling.

Sign up today for MASV and deliver raw files and video footage, fast. We’ll even give you 100 GB free to get started. 🙌

Try MASV for Free

Start your 7-day trial and send 100GB for free right now.

MASV now works with your favourite apps

Integrations To Help You Streamline Your File Transfer Workflow.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best raw file transfer option over the internet?

To send RAW files larger than 20GB in size over the internet, choose an accelerated cloud solution like MASV, which will make the most of your available internet speed.

Can you use MASV for raw file transfers?

An accelerated cloud solution like MASV is a great option for sending RAW files over the internet. Unlike FTP solutions, MASV can send data using at least 90% of your total available transfer speed over any distance.

How do I share a raw file with someone?

MASV can send up to 5 TB with a single file, anywhere in the world, at max speed — which means your entire network bandwidth dictates MASV’s transfer speed.

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