Organizing Files When Writing Out of Order

It amazes me when I get files from people and they don’t follow any sort of rules.  Their hard drive must be a mess.  How do they find files?  How do they organize them?  When I get a file such as:

Script_July.pdf

Which script?  Which year?  You can’t have one project that you’re working on, right?

Naming conventions are something I never thought about in my collegiate career.  That changed when I started producing Battle for Terra.   The animation team was using very strict naming conventions for the files.  Without this, the production would have been a train wreck.  Schedules would have been a mess.  No one would have been able to find a certain file (at least quickly).  And when you have a pipeline and things are getting passed along, this is essential.

So I started to use naming conventions for my personal files and folders.  Every project has their own Pre-fix.  And that project is broken into many categories.  Script, Budget, Schedule, Cast, Legal, etc…  My naming conventions always go:

Project-Category-Date

When I first started, I would date the projects MONTH-DAY-YEAR.  But as projects spill into multiple years, it makes it harder to track.  So now I use YEAR-MONTH-DAY.

I occasionally throw in a few descriptions after the category.  Sometimes I write scenes outside of the main script file.  If I didn’t name them properly, it would be a nightmare.  For a project like Chasing Rabbits, a file might look like this:

CR-Script-Act 1-Alice at Home-2010.05.23.fdr

Then I drop that file into the CR-Script sub-folder, which is in the CR main folder.

You balance your checkbook and you fold your laundry and put them into drawers or the closet – why would you not show the same discipline with the files on your hard drive?

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