There's a whole wiki page on data management. That tells you just how important it is. If we screw up the data management it can end up creating a whole lot of extra work for everybody. And we don't want that.
The first thing to get used to is our file structure conventions
When we can be, we're an open-source studio. Our 3D application of choice is Blender. Why Blender? Why indeed.
For 2D, Gimp is a great way to go.
The non-open-source applications we use are Final Cut Pro and AfterEffects. As of this writing there are simply no alternatives to either of those applications.
We are platform agnostic. Blender can run on Windows, Mac OS, or Linux. But Final Cut Pro is Mac-only so our editing machine is always a Mac.
The other issue is that we prefer to render visual effects out of AfterEffects as ProRes422 files. Therefore the compositing machine (running AfterEffects) is typically a Mac.
But we can work on Blender on any machine.
Note that when we're not outputting ProRes files we're using .png sequences.
OK, let's get right onto the procedures we use.
Step 1 — Naming the shot
The typical first step in the creation of a computer graphic is that the picture editor puts in a text slug indicating the need for a computer graphic. That's just a slug of white text on a black background. The picture editor will try to time it so that the text slug is of the approximate length.
If the editor is on scene 63 and they want a shot of the exterior of the space station they can make up a shot number. It is best to label the shot number chronologically. On some occasions the shot number will be in the script itself. Otherwise, put in a shot number like this:
"63.50 exterior space station"
That way an earlier shot which the editor decides to put in may be called
"63.50 exterior space station window" or whatever.
Now we have the shot number. This number is written in stone. Do not ever change it. Even if the shot ends up being moved to another scene, keep the number 63.50 because it will really screw things up if you don't.
Sometimes an effect happens over a piece of footage that's shot. This is the usual case for mattes and such. In that case the picture editor will put a text slug over the camera footage in the edit timeline.
On some occasions it's easier to apply an effect to an entire video clip.
Sometimes a composite can be made directly in Final Cut Pro. We usually do this with muzzle flashes and blood spurts. Stock footage (from Video Copilot usually) can be brought in and color-matched and layered directly on the timeline.
Step 2 — making the directories
The structure of the folders is the same whether you're on a Mac or a PC. In fact, we will copy the directories back and forth from PC's to the Mac using "sneakernet" of a portable FAT32 USB drive. Note that when copying to a Mac that the Mac's finder will actually trash any directories or files the Mac has which the "from" drive doesn't have. So be very very careful when copying to a Mac.