I’ve been using Sony’s Optical Disc Archive (ODA) for a few months now and in many respects I wish I had started using it earlier. It offers a very robust archive system that I think is far better suited to video applications than tape-based archive solutions. A key reason why I think it works better than tape is that it’s fast enough to work directly from the archive discs for some applications and behaves much like a hard drive based system with the added benefit of a database of your archived material that is created as you place clips onto the discs.
For my corporate clients, I like to offer them an ODA archive of their projects so that if they ever need to re-visit an edit, they can bring their ODA disc with them and simply can pop it in the drive and restore the entire project onto the edit system or just dip into the archive and pull out just the bits we need. It isn’t necessary to bring in large parts of the archive if we don’t need to. You can work directly with individual files.
Some of the projects I work on can be very big. In these cases, once the project is completed I often create a trimmed version of the entire project that contains only the material we used. Very often there is no need to archive all the out takes, junk clips and other files that we don’t need. In this article I’m going to use a recent project of my own as an example of how to use Adobe Premiere’s Project Manager to trim and shrink a project to just the files that you want to keep and then archive the trimmed project directly onto ODA using a ‘Watch Folder’.
Before I get to the guide, first I’d like to explain more about why I like ODA. Back in 2006 I purchased a Sony PDW-350 Optical Disc based camcorder. This was my first step into the world of tapeless technologies and I’ve never looked back. Today’s ODA archive systems are based on the same Optical Disc technology (although somewhat more developed now). The move to Optical Disc meant that for the first time I could go directly to any clip on the disc, there was no longer the need to shuttle through long lengths of delicate tape to get to the footage. This hugely sped up my workflow. In addition the discs are incredibly tough. While filming severe storms in the USA a box of rushes ended up partially submerged in water. If this had been a box of tapes I most likely would have lost several hours of irreplaceable footage. But the Optical Discs are impervious to water, so all I had to do was dry the discs out and my footage was completely intact. ODA’s robustness means that I don’t need to think about things like humidity or temperature control for storage and I know the discs are good for 100 years. The direct file access means you are not shuttling through a backup tape to get to the files you want, you can go almost instantly to the file and you are not wearing out a tape or the tape drive.
The other hidden gem of the ODA system is that the Content Manager Software that manages the archive builds a database of anything you put on an ODA disc. It can be set up to automatically create a tiny proxy video clip and thumbnails of video footage encoded with just about any codec, not just Sony codecs. This means that you can browse through your entire archive without needing to mount a disc quickly and easily. You can even use the proxies in edits. Once you have found the clips you want in the offline database Content Manager will tell you which disc cartridge you need to mount to restore the original files. This is a huge time saver if you have a big library of footage.
So, on to the guide. It might sound quite complicated as you read through this. But it isn’t. Once you’ve done it once you will see that it’s actually really easy and only takes a few moments to set up once the basic software has been installed.