Remote Team Data Management
Updated: Apr 15, 2020
When the team can't be together, how can the data be?
A lot of us are working from home lately due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of us are still part of a working team. How do we do meaningful cooperative computer work so far away from the office server? The most robust solution is a dedicated VPN, which is very complicated to setup. Talk to your IT professional about that. Another easier stop-gap solution for these times is cloud storage via Google Drive or Dropbox, or what I call a "virtual server." Both have the ability to sync the whole team's files across all workers' computers, and can hold a comfortable amount of data for low cost. It's important to be sure you have enough local hard drive space to hold everything before you begin. A typical project size for a standard 30sec commercial spot would be around 100GB. To conserve local hard drive space, you can select to sync only the folders that are relative to your contribution. Production and post would sync very different folders with a few overlaps, so even though the total project on the cloud is 100GB, you're share may only consist of 10GB or less. When the project is done, simply copy the cloud project into the business on-site server or other archiving tool. From there it blends in with the rest of the projects done the more traditional server based way, and can be treated as normal when the team returns to the office in person. I personally have worked on large projects this way where the animator in California is rendering 3D animation out of Thailand, frames for the compositor to work on in Chicago, to hand off finished shots to editorial in New York. All the files show up for everybody as soon as they're created, bandwidth permitting. It felt indistinguishable from working on a dedicated office server and opened up the capacity to accomplish heavy lifting assignments from virtually anywhere. Many of my preferred working associates are not here in Chicago, and this way we can still work and collaborate without travel overhead, location, or commute hassle being an issue. So if you need to coordinate a whole office worth of cooperative data in these strange times, I highly recommend the "virtual server" approach to keep your data flowing seamlessly through your team.