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View Full Version : Your Content Directory Setup - Pros and Cons



SP00
05-25-2008, 05:19 PM
Hi everyone,

Generally, there are 2 structures a person can have for their content directory. It is either having 1 big content directory will all your objects, Images, and Scenes with your project folder repeated in each. Or you can have a project folder, each having their own objects, images, and scenes folder.

I like to discuss the pros and cons of each structure, and see if I should switch.
Any care to take the first stab?

BigHache
05-25-2008, 06:34 PM
Cons:

Single Content Directory
* Inability to move entire project to another computer/network with ease
* Inability to backup single projects effectively - Content Directory may get excessively large preventing backup of entire folder

Project-Based Content Directory
* Need to change content directory for each project

SP00
05-25-2008, 08:18 PM
I also find that the project based directory structure is more organized and keep things from getting really, really messy.

Steamthrower
05-25-2008, 09:28 PM
Though there's a LW plugin (I forget it's name) that basically packages together all your files into one folder for delivery, as standard practice I make it a point to keep my fodlers project based.

This is mainly because I don't just use LW in a project...I might have raw footage, a Final Cut project file, psd files, reference images, etc etc, and for archival or delivery it's pure pit of hell trying to collect all of the data together in a content-based file system.

Weetos
05-26-2008, 02:02 AM
In my humble opinion, project based content directory is the best option, but this setup tends to use more disk space than a single space directory: if you need that superb hi-res concrete texture in 10 project, you will need to have 10 copies of that image file on the project drive, one in each project/images directory. The same goes for all kind of assets. This image/object/whatever has been updated by another artist working on the project? Ok, you'll have to update every copy :bangwall:

One way of dealing with this is to use a linux/unix based file server or an asset management system. On a linux box (and maybe on some other OSes, dunno) you have that extremely useful feature called symbolic links or 'symlinks' that is basically a instance of a file that you can use to point to the real file. That way, you have one image used in say 10 projects, for the 10th of the size, and having the benefit that all instances are synchronized. I may add that symlinks are really different from MSWindows's links (*.lnk), as they're truely transparent to the user, which lnk files are not (they are real files that contains the actual path to the referenced file, and a given application would load that file instead of the file it's pointing to). I believe Vista also has a native symlink feature.

my two cents

Matt
05-26-2008, 02:32 AM
I think it also depends whether you work in a studio or as a single LightWave user (as in my case where I work).

I only have to set my content directory once to the top level, from there each project has it's own folder (with _img _lwo _lws suffix attached).

Backing up a single project is not a problem at all, just do a search for the project name and copy all the folders that come up, or use the 'SaveProject' plugin (can be found on the forum).

I also backup using Synctoy from Microsoft, which has proved very stable.

It's not the conventional way of doing it, but it works for me!

Matt

Red_Oddity
05-26-2008, 04:00 AM
We create a structure per job, and the content directory mixes data from various 3d programs.

we have a project dir, in that one we have various other folders : comps (for composit projects), documents (clients email attachments and various related documents), 3d_project (3d content directory, texture folder set to sourceimages to be compatible with Maya), footage (3d renders, audio, movies, etc, for compositing and editing), renders (for final renders from the composite or edit program), edit (for editing projects).

Red_Oddity
05-26-2008, 04:12 AM
bloody 5 minute edit rule

We create a structure per job, and the content directory mixes data from various 3d programs.

we have a project dir, in that one we have various other folders : comps (for composit projects), documents (clients email attachments and various related documents), 3d_project (3d content directory, texture folder set to sourceimages to be compatible with Maya), footage (3d renders, audio, movies, etc, for compositing and editing), renders (for final renders from the composite or edit program), edit (for editing projects).

Each folder also contains a History folder where old and obselete versions of files are placed (this makes it a non critical directory for backup purposes, leaving the amount that really has to be backuped small and clear and leaves the directory clean so you don't have to go through 30+ versions of file to find the correct one)

Also, the incremental saving we use has been copied from Maya's incremental save feature, where in for example the scenes folder an incrementalSave folder resides, in that folder there are subfolders each named after a scene file (for example the 'animatie_syteem_02.lws' folder belongs to the animatie_syteem_02.lws file, in that folder are incremental saves named animatie_syteem_02.0001.lws, animatie_syteem_02.0002.lws, etc.)
This way, when someone makes a booboo, no critical files are lost.


Pros are that every project is the same layout wise, and when everyone keeps to the rules we set, everyone knows where to look.

Cons, no real cons here, have been working with this project layout for over 8 years now (spanning multiple companies and workflows)

Hope this helps a bit.

ingo
05-26-2008, 11:00 AM
What content structure you use depends on what you do as 3D work. If youre doing for example architectural stuff with tons of textures and objects the single directory structure is easier to handle, especially since LW is not able to copy/remove images and objects automaticly in the project structure.

tribbles
05-27-2008, 05:10 PM
I'd prefer a project based content directory, but I couldn't be bothered with moving content directories about (especially if I need to mix and match from several projects).

So they've all ended up in one content directory, with a project directory inside each object/image/.... directory.

Lightwolf
05-27-2008, 05:20 PM
Project based... and extended for other assets (i.e. comps, in/out directories for client material etc...).

Mainly to allow for easy back-ups and to keep stuff as tidy as possible without affecting other jobs. On the positive side this allows us to easily restore a project that is years old, dump it back to the server and get working on it (this is a 2 person studio btw.).

Easy enough to navigate, especially with the new content detection scheme and the fact that you have the recently used content directories as well as recently used files readily at hand.

Cheers,
Mike

VirtualFM
06-01-2008, 09:41 PM
It is possible to mix bothmethods, like Matt exemplified. I do it in a similar way to his.

Since I usually work in several projects at the same time, constantly switching content directory is a real nuisance and very prone to error, in my opinion... Suddenly you find yourself forgetting to switch Content Directory (CD) and loading objects for another project while still in the "old" CD, messing everything up.

So, I use a "Top Level CD" and then create projects inside as needed. Everything is always inside it's own project directory and for backups it's just a matter of copying the whole project directory. I never have to change CD.

Content Directory
Project 1
Images
Objects
Scenes
Project 2
Images
Objects
Scenes
Tests
Images
Objects
Scenes

Inside each Project Directory I usually have more folders, like "Docs", "Comps" and application specific folders if the project requires other software like XSI or Realflow or whatever

Of course this started was way back in 1994, but I decided right away that this CD swapping was not sane for my way of thinking and couldn't be like that. I think it was John Gross the first person I saw using this method and I loved it right away.

Nowadays it's possible to have several CD available on a popup on-the-fly but you still have to remember to switch them... and I don't really trust the "smart" finding of CDs! So, I am using this method since way back then without any regrets.

VirtualFM
06-01-2008, 10:02 PM
damn 5 min rule... I tried to format the directories above, but no chance... It should go like:

Content Directory
...Project 1
......Images
......Objects
......Scenes
...Project 2
......Images
...... ...

PS: sorry for all the dots. (rant) what's wrong with using spaces anyway? (/rant)

hdace
06-02-2008, 12:18 AM
Cons:

Single Content Directory
* Inability to move entire project to another computer/network with ease
* Inability to backup single projects effectively - Content Directory may get excessively large preventing backup of entire folder

Project-Based Content Directory
* Need to change content directory for each project

I always used to prefer project based but I'm starting to change my mind.

If you use a Mac network with gigabit switches and you've got plenty of storage and you use mac type aliases to avoid re-copying media, I don't see any real problem in moving stuff around or keeping it effectively backed-up.

The only thing that was stopping me previously was ScreamerNet directory limitations. But recent tests here have shown me that single content method works fine with SN.

So I think I'm moving in that direction. I think that ultimately I'll suffer from less confusion when I'm sharing certain components between completely different scenes.

Dexter2999
06-02-2008, 09:36 AM
Has anyone here used Pro Tools?
When you start a project it asks where you want to put it. It then creates a project file with the sub-folders AUDIO and FADES inside.
In Pro Tools this isn't an option you have to do it for every project. I see some people have a different take on things. So, should this be a feature request of Lightwave? To have a project prompt under user preferences? That way if you like this system you check the box. If you don't, business as usual.

SP00
06-03-2008, 05:06 PM
I always used to prefer project based but I'm starting to change my mind.

If you use a Mac network with gigabit switches and you've got plenty of storage and you use mac type aliases to avoid re-copying media, I don't see any real problem in moving stuff around or keeping it effectively backed-up.

The only thing that was stopping me previously was ScreamerNet directory limitations. But recent tests here have shown me that single content method works fine with SN.

So I think I'm moving in that direction. I think that ultimately I'll suffer from less confusion when I'm sharing certain components between completely different scenes.

Yeah, I had the same problem when I set up SN, but I realized that if you use good naming convention, you can just dump all the files into 1 content directory and non of the scene, object, and image would overwrite if it is name properly. After all the rendering is done if is you need to make adjustments, just redo the dump. That is how I went about it. If you use Butterflynet render, I think it recognizes project based folders and auto-switch it for you.