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December 30, 2013 / Randy Coppinger

Good Names, Bad Names…

… you know I had my share. Previously we explored ways to let people know more about a media file using metadata, a ReadMe doc, a posting notification, folder name, and file name. Here are a few more tips for creating good file names and avoiding bad ones.

AVOID
At the time you name a folder or file, the word “new” may be accurate and descriptive. But after some time passes, the content will no longer be new. Worse yet, if another version is needed after that, “new” in a previous file name is downright confusing. Because there may be more than one version of an audio file, using the word “new” should be avoided.

For the same reason “final” is a terrible choice for a folder or file name. Using “final” is like a curse on your file, inviting someone to request another change. To prevent names that are ambiguous — and especially wrong — be sure to avoid using “new” or “final” in folder and asset names.

EMBRACE
A simple and common way to distinguish files for version control is to use an incrementing number. For example: SmRoomAmbLoop_Stereo_vers1, SmRoomAmbLoop_Stereo_vers2, etc. If you are creating every version, or you administer the naming, then a simple incrementing version number can be a great way to keep track of everything.

When large teams are working simultaneously on a project, it may be difficult to know the current version number. Using the date may be helpful especially if many iterations are anticipated.

Workflow Milestones

It’s often useful to know how far along an asset is in the process. Inserting words like scratch, raw, edit, master, and the like identify where the asset relates to major milestones in the workflow. This is valuable during production when there are fixes, and also if someone wants to revisit a project (think sequel) months or years after the initial project has been completed.

There are often major categories of audio file types such as dialog, music, and effects. These can be important file groups to call out by including right in the name. When assets are organized into folders by these categories, the folder name is an obvious place to use these words. But when files seem likely separated from your folders, the categories may better be used in each asset name. An abbreviation may be helpful for adding category to a file name.

Don’t overlook combined use of version number, date, milestone, and category in a file name. For example: fx_SmRoomAmbLoop_v3_2014-01Jan-02_edit.wav may help any number of people downstream quickly recognize and make effective use of the audio.

Still to come: sound for picture file name tips

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