shared environments

Welcome back to the Digistor blog – today I'd like to touch on the importance of Naming Conventions and Consistency when working in shared environments. Where the client machines (and servers) may be leveraging different operating systems and connection protocols.

This is an issue most often seen between Windows and Mac OS machines, usually initiated on the Mac OS machine, which has a more lax set of rules regarding allowed characters and combinations in file and folder names.

A classic case is connecting to an SMB share and finding a folder that is 6 alpha-numeric characters, a ~ (tilde) and finally one last alpha-numeric character. But when viewing this same folder over a fibre connection we can see the intended name correctly.

For example

Original file name: test:file.txt
Display name under Windows: T8S6CH~R.TXT

This is a well-known name mangling problem where SMB is converting filenames down to DOS 8.3 style and is most often caused by trailing whitespace or another special (non-alphanumeric) character in a name created by a Mac OS user. This can become more of an issue if your backup system is, say Windows and your main NLE's are OS X – the windows machine may mangle the names, or worse still not be able to back up some parts of the data.


Fortunately, there is a workaround (albeit partial) for this by editing the smb.conf file's [global] section to include "mangled names=no". I don't see this as a fool-proof fix, particularly if you are sharing this data with people outside your organization and they may not have the above settings applied locally.

Apart from these system side limitations, it makes very good sense to have a logical and concise naming convention for your data to facilitate finding and retrieving it several months or years down the track. Many clients we work with will have a WIP (Work In Progress) folder at the root level of their share, into which they logically break down each project into sections. Completed projects may then be moved in their entirety to Archive, freeing up space on the main storage.

For example

//MyShare/WIP/<client name>/<project name>/
And then inside the <project name> directory, we break out the components of the project
├── 01_Admin
│   ├── Files_to_Client
│   ├── Reference
│   └── Scripts_and_Storyboards
├── 02_Media
│   ├── Location_Audio
│   └── Rushes
├── 03_Audio
│   ├── Guide_VO
│   ├── Mixes
│   ├── Music
│   ├── Sound_effects
│   └── VO
├── 04_Graphics
│   ├── AI
│   ├── Fonts
│   ├── PS
│   ├── Stills
├── 05_Premiere
│   ├── Adobe_Premiere_Pro_Auto-Save
│   ├── Adobe_Premiere_Pro_Preview_Files
│   ├── Previous_Project_Assets
├── 06_AE
│   ├── AE_Renders
├── 07_Grade
│   ├── Grade_Prep
│   ├── Graded_Footage
│   ├── LUTs
│   │   ├── URSA_46_luts
│   │   │   ├── Davinci_Resolve
│   │   │   ├── FCPX
│   │   │   └── LUTS_4.0
└── 08_Master
    ├── HD_Masters
    └── HD_Submasters

This ensures a logical placement of all data across many projects, with the benefit of facilitating easy archive of a subset of the data on your storage. Furthermore, it reduces the incidence of incompatible naming in the folder structure so you can more readily glide between systems as required.

Finally, it is relevant to consider the length of the file paths described above – long names may appear more readable. But when there are 10 sub-folders with long names in the path, it can become quite cumbersome to navigate and hence manage. Try reducing names down, such as My_Kitchen_Rules_Season1_Episode1 becomes MKR_S01_E01, and so on.


There are many online resources discussing and providing further suggestions on the above but in short, the best rules to follow to ensure maximum cross-compatibility for users and operating systems are:

There are many online resources discussing and providing further suggestions on the above but in short, the best rules to follow to ensure maximum cross-compatibility for users and operating systems are:

1) Use A-Z, a-z, 0-9, _, -characters only, definitely avoid putting spaces or special characters at the start or end of any name.

2) Always enforce a consistent folder structure and naming convention for your projects to ensure you and those after you are able to easily locate and retrieve media in the future.

3) Where possible, be concise in naming.

If you need any assistance or have questions around mixed environment optimizations, don't hesitate to contact the Digistor team for a discussion.

Stay safe everyone, see you next time!