August 27, 2019

This Trick Will Help You Keep Track of All of Your Little Memory Cards

Never fumble with or mislabel another memory card during a shoot again.

Okay, you're a new filmmaker and you're on set with your skeleton crew. You've got lots of cameras rolling...2, 3, maybe even 4...and the usual chaos you'd expect from a film production is going on: lighting needs adjusting, hair needs fixing, blocking needs rethinking, and batteries need recharging. 

Absolutely everything is happening all at once and just as the last bit of your attention is claimed by some other pressing issue, your memory cards are getting filled up and you need to switch them out quickly so you can get back to shooting.

There are many ways filmmakers manage their data to reduce the risk of misplacing or mislabeling memory cards, but here's a super cheap and easy method that takes little to no brainpower at all. Check out this video by The Basic Filmmaker to find out what it is.

Like I said before, there are many ways to solve the data management issue. 

Some filmmakers like to use label makers to label memory cards, while others simply label them with a Sharpie. Personally, I like the gaff tape approach, since it's less permanent than a label maker and more permanent than labeling with a Sharpie. I can remove the label between projects or when a card goes bad or missing, but the tape might cause clearance issues when inserting the card into the camera. 

But the Basic Filmmaker's method addresses many of these workflow issues, from being stuck with a label forever to having a label rub off to not being able to actually insert your memory card because of your label. Because you're not labeling your memory card until after it's full, you can use the semi-permanent gaff tape solution and not have to worry about clearance. 

"Wait, not labeling my memory cards before a shoot will slow me down!"

I mean, maybe a little. But the way the Basic Filmmaker preps them makes that process super fast and idiot-proof. Just place your labels on the side of each corresponding camera, and when you've filled up a memory card, just throw a label on the bad boy you're switching out. You don't have to stop everything to grab a roll of gaff tape and a pen—just grab a tab, slap it on, and you're good.

Now all you need is a safe place to put those spent cards and you'll be right as rain, honey. (Bonus points for having separate spots for your fulls and empties...like these.)

How do you manage your memory cards? Do you use gaff tape, a Sharpie, or some other ingenious method we don't know about? Let us know down in the comments.     

Your Comment

6 Comments

I love my PTouch

August 27, 2019 at 5:12PM

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Kyle Dockum
Videographer and Editor
885

Wouldn't regular old scotch tape work just as well? You would' have to waste good gaff tape and it'd be cheaper anyhow.

Labeling your cards and keeping two separate card holders always worked for me. One card holder for unused cards and one for used cards. If you constantly shoot with multiple cameras you could have sets of cards dedicated to each so you can still label cards as A, B, C, etc...

August 27, 2019 at 5:47PM

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Alex Everingham
Video Editor
657

Yo this is such a good idea! Don't know why I haven't thought of that, probably might use some cheaper tape to be honest so I don't waste my perfectly good gaff tape!

August 28, 2019 at 12:09AM

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Actually, I do both. Firstly, when I get an SD card (or SSD) I give it a unique number - I write this on the front and back, plus also the month and year. If the label allows a black sharpie I use that to write on the front, and use a fine white uni-paint pen on the black rear of the card. That way, I easily know how old each card is and have a permanent reference to a specific card, e.g. so that I easily know which card it is if it starts failing. For small shoots this is enough: always cards 1 & 2 for Cam1, 3 & 4 for Cam2, 5 & 6 for Cam3 etc. I also DON'T reset the file number counter in the camera between shoots. That way, the files from each camera always has a unique starting number on the first SD card and following SD cards have consecutive numbers, so if the cards do get mixed, once you have identified the first video file on a card you can work out which cards are used in that camera by file number and date/time. Once used, I put the cards in a blue freezer bag labelled 'Used Media'. I use a freezer bag as it is transparent and I can immediately see the cards I have put in there. For larger shoots I add the tape to the SD card (actually white masking tape - easy to write on with an ordinary pen), pre-written e.g. with A1, A2, A3.. B1, B2 etc as per the pic, then put the cards into the blue bag. The DIT then takes these out and puts them into a separate red transparent bag labelled 'Media Backed Up'. Although these _should_ have been backed up, normally I try to not touch the cards in the red bag until after the rushes are checked by someone else other than the DIT, unless I have run out of cards in which case I want 3 verified copies before formatting and re-using the card.

August 28, 2019 at 5:21AM

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Thomas Dove
DoP
275

hummm....ok

August 28, 2019 at 8:37AM

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Lol thanks video dad. Most productions I've been on use red and green tape. The AC prepares the labels in red and stacks them in order A01 on top, on the camera body. But Red means do not format, Green means safe to format.

August 28, 2019 at 1:45PM

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bobunitone
Editor/Director/Writer/All Round Great Dude
173