Monday, April 28, 2008
Working The Flow
Whether on assignment for National Geographic or managing his massive stock archives, Frans Lanting's studio is constantly adapting to handle extreme challenges in digital-asset management
Getting precious digital image files from capture to output is tricky under the best circumstances. Just imagine how difficult it gets when you're on location for National Geographic in the most remote corners of the world for weeks on end and you're bringing back 10,000 images at a time. That's exactly the situation faced by Frans Lanting and his staff.
“When I return from the field, it's generally after four to eight weeks of nonstop shooting,” says Lanting. He explains that the planning begins long before a single picture is shot.
When Lanting gets to his location, he prefers using multiple flash cards to break up a shooting day. “I'm conservative in terms of the amount of images that I entrust to one memory card,” he says, “because things can go wrong. These days, I use 4 GB and 8 GB cards, and whether I fill up two or three cards, or six or seven cards really depends on the shoot.”
No matter how many cards he uses, he offloads his pictures at the end of the day onto his MacBook Pro. With Photo Mechanic software, the files are ingested and renamed with a shoot code, date and sequence number. “This ensures that every image is immediately assigned a unique file name,” explains Lanting.
“I use the IPTC template to apply basic location information to all the images,” Lanting continues. “Each card is ingested into a folder, which is labeled with the date, card sequence letter, and a short description of subject matter, for example, 20070613B_Chimps termite fishing.”
|Lanting downloading images onto his MacBook Pro, which is powered by a solar-panel-charged car battery, while camping out in an old shipping container set up as a field shelter in the Falkland Islands.|
Ideally, Lanting would ingest to his redundant external capture drives simultaneously through Photo Mechanic, but in practice it doesn't work that way. Typically, the files are ingested and then copied to the primary external drive. When time permits, the mirror for each external pair (he travels with a set of four 120 GB hard drives) is synched up, and the laptop's internal drive is purged.
“My partner and wife, Christine Eckstrom, who often travels and works with me, keeps one hard drive with her hand luggage, and one stays with me,” Lanting says. “If we're staying in a hotel, we keep them in locked cases and we try to separate them from the camera gear. If somebody takes off with the camera gear, the hard drives are still safe. We hardly ever mail the hard drives back because typically I'm in too remote of an area for that to make sense.”
Lanting also carries a fifth external hard drive containing a bootable system copy of his MacBook. When his partner Eckstrom is along, she too carries an identical laptop that can serve as a backup.