Just a few years ago, to get a commercial to a TV station, I would have to make copies on tape and deliver the tapes to the stations. Some wanted *cough* a DVD. Thankfully, with progression of technology, all can now accept a digital file uploaded to their servers primarily via FTP. Before the commercial would be approved by the client, they would have to preview and approve the video. Depending on their operating system and their email restrictions, I’d have to send a multitude of preview file .mp4, .wmv or whatever we found that their computer could play–and get to them.
Even with digital file delivery, there are headaches involved!
Typically for a given client, I need to send the commercials to five or so TV stations. Each representative of course needs to know when the spot was uploaded, the file name, etc. If we are on a time crunch to get on air for the next day, they want to know when it is being uploaded, how much longer, etc. So, I would have to be physically sitting in front of the computer monitoring each FTP upload. I didn’t like this because sometimes I would need to go out and film something for another client or something.
Let’s not forget about trying to email the preview files to the clients as I already mentioned! For some that couldn’t even receive a video attachment due to their IT department’s security policies, I would have to either upload it to vimeo or youtube, unlist it and let them view that way. Yeah, that works, but when getting into multiple versions and such, it just gets too cluttered and too many places to do things. Oh yeah, some clients couldn’t even access vimeo or youtube due to IT restrictions.
So how to share video files with all of these people?
I explored several options for sharing files. Some were online services such as Dropbox, and others were self-hosted solutions that I could run on a server in my office such as OwnCloud, Pydio, Projectsend, and more. The online services had great user interfaces and seemed good, but those very large files I’d sometimes have to deal with were excruciating waiting to upload and download. I needed something to eliminate the time for transfers from the cloud. The self hosted methods eliminated that. If I was waiting on a 4 GB file from someone, they could just upload to my network and I could copy to an edit station within seconds instead of an hour or more. The problem I ended up finding was sending the final videos to the TV stations and networks. I was able to share those files to the station reps, but they didn’t have time to download them… the policies for most of the stations was for someone to upload to their FTP servers. Ugh.
I got tired of limitations, so I built my own file server.
Being proficient with technology and having built some websites in the past, I figured that I could take the time I spent on testing all the different paid and open source solutions and build my own system.