Workflow

Do you push-pull?  Do you pull a file off a hard drive, work on it, then push it back where you got it or on to the next step?  How’s that working for you?

If your team is small, like two or three people who are dedicated both to the project and to their team, that can work.  Not everything requires a server room and if you’re making a flier for someone you don’t need a tech crew.  It would have to be a small enough file on a large enough hard drive with a timeline that includes a whole lot of squish room.  It comes with challenges, even for a small team.  

If you are using an actual physical hard drive that you hand off to one another, working remotely becomes more difficult and involves meeting or mailing to transfer between team members before the next step can begin.  What if someone falls behind schedule or gets sick?  If they have the file at the time, it may be a challenge you weren’t planning for.  And what if something happens to that sacred drive?  If someone’s five year old thought it would be a good idea to put it in the microwave, not only does the microwave now need to be replaced, if it didn’t set the entire house on fire, but the files are literally toast.

How do we solve that?  Multiple copies.  I pull it, download it to my work station, fix it, push it, and if all else fails I have the most recent version of the file as a backup, even if it does fill my hard drive and slow down my work.   We roll our eyes, get another physical hard drive, put the backup file on it and get back to where we were, and hopefully we padded the timeline like smart people for eventualities such as these.  Problem solved.

And new problem created.  I thought that was the most recent version. That wasn’t the only file on there—did you back up the smaller side-files, too, like the individual assets, so they’d import correctly and be available for editing?  I used the other version when I made my changes, so there are actually three versions out there now and none of them are inclusive of everyone’s work, so someone will be doing it over, and maybe several someones.   No one pads the timeline that much.

If you are an average-ish person with coworkers who are less superhuman and more regular human, something will go wrong, but hopefully those carefully constructed and pre-set plans for such things will kick in without too much chaos.  People laugh and say that such-and-such was the one thing that went wrong for each project, as though something going wrong is a mandatory part of the process.  In a push-pull environment, they’re right, but no one likes waiting for something to go wrong.  It’s definitely not ideal and in the long run leads to therapy and/or an ulcer.  

When creative people are working together on a project, they need to be able to communicate and collaborate effectively to accomplish the goal.  Luckily, we don’t have to create some mini governmental system with by-laws and workflow maps to accomplish it like they used to when keeping track of a project.  That’s old school. They have stuff for that now.  Which means if you’re still living under the something-must-go-wrong axe, you’re being a little silly.  That’s no longer a thing.  You might also complain that the garters around your socks are pinching.  Equally silly.  Get new socks.  

If you don’t know any other way to do it, that’s ok.  We do.  That’s how this works.  We don’t make movies, for example, but we want other people to make movies that we can enjoy, so we do what we do—design a workflow process that makes sense and maintain the necessary hardware to make it happen, because we’re not filmmakers and you’re not engineers.  This is our part of the creative world we love to live in, even if we can’t be as creative as you, whatever your part may be.  We go to the movies, listen to music, watch sports and buy nice clothes.  We want to help.  Personally, I know I can’t make the things I enjoy.  We’re a part of the team, we’re just back here in the server room so you don’t have to be.

A practical system allows for users to save files centrally, access them from anywhere, and comes with automatic backups and an on-call engineer for questions or issues.  The team works together but isn’t so reliant on nothing going wrong for things to work, so it’s much more efficient and avoids ulcers.  The chances of data loss are slim to none, and if there are some steps that have to be completed before someone else can add their magic, the transfer is as simple as texting to tell them you’re done so they can start their part.  No meeting under a streetlight to hand off a hard drive like spies in an 80s film.  

You could if you wanted to, but it would just be for fun.  You do you. 


Comment