FCP Project Folder Structures: Advice

What’s a good folder structure for FCP?  I read and heard lots of tips from great sources, but some of them (e.g. keep [.fcp] files on local drive not Media drive) sounded questionable, at least from my context, and anyway I always want to know the underlying reason for anything.  So it’s research-time again…

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There are several aspects:

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  • Participants
    • Individual, small team or large team
    • Standards-based, methodical or haphazard
  • Application(s)
    • Apple (FCS etc.) -centric?
    • Combination of several apps e.g. several makes of NLE
  • Media
    • File size and value.
  • Storage system(s)?
    • Local
      • Normal or (relatively) slow drive
      • Fast drive e.g. RAID
    • Remote (probably shared).
      • Exceedingly Slow (e.g. web via standard broadband)
      • Slow (e.g. NAS such as WD MyBook)
      • Fast but with possible latency (e.g. “Fibre Channel” / SAN)
    • Integrated
      • Final Cut Server giving seamless access to all storage including near-line (easily-retrievable archive)?


  • Tidy organization
    • Easy to find stuff, including serendipitously.
    • Easy to manage stuff, e.g. archiving / shelving and reinstating.
  • Performance
    • User-level.
      • Keep
    • System-level
  • Security

My Conclusions (so far):

  • The typical professional situation involves multiple users on a SAN.   In this case:
    • Each user should configure their apps (e.g. FCP) to save small and transient files to local disk.
      • Local disk has less latency and minimization of small-file traffic on SAN improves its performance to all users.
    • An individual (or item) -specific project file, which counts as a “small and transient file”, should not be saved routinely or automatically to shared media server but only saved there on an occasional basis (e.g. at end of day or project).
      • Restricting this operation to end-of-project might “discourage” users from corrupting each other’s files, though really that’s what Permissions are for (in Mac OS X / unix).
  • Much advice relates to the “typical professional situation”, not all of it is appropriate to other situations.
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  • [http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/8/1044648#1044725]
    • Really good thread with concrete examples
  • [http://www.xsanity.com/article.php/2007041604264728]
    • Found in above thread ([http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/8/1044648#1044725]).
    • Recommends avoiding small files on Media drive, at least if it is a SAN, to avoid “small-file traffic” hence improve SAN performance.
    • I am thinking of setting up a “Best Practices” procedure within my facility where the editors will mount a AFP share (half of a XSR directly connected to an XServe) and save Project files (both FCP and AE), WF cache, Auto Save Vault, & maybe the Render files to the ethernet share while video files go on the SAN.
  • [http://www.xsanity.com/comment.php?mode=display&sid=2007041604264728&title=FCP%20Project%20File%20and%20Scratch%20Disk%20Folder%20Best%20Practices&type=article&order=ASC&pid=180]
    • Network latency will be your biggest issue. FCP will get sluggish every time it tries to write data there. So your waveform and thumbnail cache folders would really not do well if created remotely, and there’s no reason to have that data backed up, since it can be easily remade very quickly.
  • [http://www.xsanity.com/article.php/2007041604264728]
    • Of the six folders that FCP creates on a Scratch Disk Location, I believe three should always be kept local …simply because the files within are usually so small that they gum up the performance of the SAN if you send them through the fibre.
      • Waveform Cache Files
      • Thumbnail Cache Files
      • Autosave Vault
    • …you can create an affinity for the folder(s) that hold project files, that map to a separate storage pool than the “main” media storage pool
    • …directing the Autosave Vault to the SAN, … may be the only way that one could recover a project in case an editing bay goes down …(but)… again, we are populating both the storage and fibre net with small file traffic.
      • …the autosave vault, if not cleaned out and depending on prefs set can grow into mega- and gigabyte size. Not so much in small shops but big production houses with dozens of users can be so.
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