Filming in Extreme Conditions: How Andy Taylor ACS Keeps his Client Footage Secure
Having worked with the likes of 60 Minutes, National Geographic, the ABC and Netflix, cinematographer Andy Taylor ACS has shot in over 110 countries. He gives us the ins and outs of his workflow and how he keeps his files safe for every job, no matter where he is in the world.
For over 35 years, Andy Taylor ACS has worked as a cameraman and made a name for himself as one of Australia’s most experienced cinematographers.
Working with 60 Minutes for 8 of those years, Andy has filmed stories across a variety of genres including true crime, human interest, wildlife, science, medical, political, celebrity profiles, natural disasters and even wars.
“For big shoots like network promos, documentaries and TVC’s, I’d have really large 4K digital cinema files,” says Andy.
“One 512GB camera card only holds 41 minutes of 4K data, so I need to be able to reformat these efficiently so I’m prepared to capture the action. Sometimes I may only get one chance.”
Andy usually shoots and data wrangles himself, creating at least two backups of the rushes before reformatting the camera cards.
“Up until recently I’d been backing up onto portable hard drives and purchasing new ones each time they had reached capacity,” says Andy.
“The problem I had was that they are quite bulky and slow, and often required various USB adaptors or cables to be compatible with my equipment.”
Andy explains how he has combatted these issues with a streamlined and speedy backup process, which is particularly important for him when shooting in remote and often dangerous conditions.
Time Critical Shoots
Shooting in super fast-paced environments has seen Andy covering wars and conflicts in over 16 countries, as well as natural disasters and earthquakes in Fukushima, Haiti and the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in Aceh.
“When I’m out in the field on time critical shoots such as these, I like to have my G-DRIVE™ PRO SSD on hand as it can keep up with the pace I’m working,” says Andy.
“The file transfer time can be 10 times faster than a standard hard drive, so whilst it is a little more expensive, it’s essential for when things are frantic and everyone is in a hurry.”
Andy generally shoots with two or three cameras in 4K and likes to provide the client with one copy of the entire project before he leaves the location. This includes all of the camera angles, audio backup files, and any stills he has taken.
“I can now transfer as much as a terabyte of footage in under seven minutes,” he says.
Extreme and Exotic Locations
Throughout his career Andy has been tasked with exotic assignments, filming through remote parts of the Amazon rainforest, the Kokoda Track, active volcanoes in Vanuatu and even climbing to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp.
“In extreme locations, I need to be confident my work is secure. The durable casing of the G-DRIVE PRO SSD means I don’t need to stress about drops or it being crushed.”
Now working as a freelancer, Andy owns and operates all professional equipment that comes along with him.
We’re talking the Arri Alexa Mini LF Camera, three Canon Cinema EOS 4K cameras, various lenses, several tripods, gimbals, mounts, lighting solutions, drones, still photography and audio equipment, and more!
With all of this equipment on hand, it is essential that Andy’s backup solution acts as a portable travel companion, rather than an extra weight to lug around.
“My work demands a data management system which is compact yet effective. Being travel friendly is essential for the road, and weighing less than 200 grams the G-DRIVE PRO SSD definitely meets the brief.”
OFF SITE SOLUTION
Once Andy has arrived home and has successfully delivered the camera and audio files to the production team, he always keeps an extra backup of the material for himself.
“You just never know, there may be a problem in transit, the edit system might crash, or perhaps I might need to refer to some of the shots myself or want to include them in my showreel,” says Andy.
To back up these files, Andy uses a G-RAID™ 2 system which allows him to store up to 24TB1 of data in one, centralised location.
“This allows me to quickly transfer all of my stills and 4K footage, and I can daisy chain other drives via the USB-C terminals on the back.”
As a final step, Andy always checks the file sizes match, and replays the material in the viewer or edit system on his laptop.
“This way, I’m one hundred percent sure that the pictures and sound are intact, and I stick to this process for every shoot I do.”
Andy is one of the most respected and sought cinematographers in the world. With over 35 years of experience filming various genres, he has already achieved multiple ACS and Walkley Awards.
1 One terabyte (TB) is equal to one trillion bytes. Actual user capacity may be less due to operating environment.
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