Multi-Site Church : Asset Management
I get 2-3 phone calls a month asking how I manage assets from site to site and venue to venue. Over the years, I have tried virtually every method out there from Box, Drop Box, hand delivery etc., but there is one that has proven itself tried and true, so it has been my go-to. It also helps that this method, is very volunteer friendly and takes a huge load of the work up off of our staff.
A few things to preface this:
1) We are a Mac based church - we only use Macs. Not that you can’t utilize many of these techniques in a Windows environment, but the Mac automator scripts have been huge for us.
2) There needs to be an “all-in” approach to this system… Meaning that all of your staff, volunteer teams and others that need access to the files, MUST utilize this system 100% of the time. For coherence and continuity, this is a must. If your graphics team is creating content and not utilizing this file management structure, then you have a huge missing piece of the system.
So with all of that understood here it is.
A. Purchase the Synology DS1817 - this is a NAS Raid System that will give you the ability to house 80TB of data. You will buy the bay and then need to purchase hard drives to add to it. There are tons of options for hard-drives but I recommend the Western Digital RED Pro drives @ 10TB and 7200 RPM. I find it critical for all of our drives to be 7200 RPM.
B. Solid Internet speeds are a must for faster transfer. You will need a fast upload speed from your central site and a fast download speed at the multi-sites. This will prove to be critical for successful and timely management of files at your sites.
From there, it is relatively simple. The Synology DS1817 will allow multiple users, give tons of space and provide file management capabilities for all of your teams.
So, with that, here are some tips and tricks I have deployed over the years. I setup the NAS to allow my key users full access. This way the graphics teams, video teams, technical directors and producers have access to move files around as needed. I also create accounts for the local sites that are read only and do not allow for them to make changes to the NAS. I make sure that our team understands the following:
Unless you are the creator of the content, AND making an update, you are not to EVER, for ANY reason write over a file, remove a file etc.
A few more things to know:
The NAS is a 1,1 raid, this way we have immediate backups for our files. I also have a hidden file folder that is sync’d with our service folder. This keeps an additional hidden backup that only I know how to find. This way I can make sure to protect us from an accidental opps. If a files gets lost or deleted, I can restore it from my 3rd backup if the local site has issue pulling it from our initial backup partition.
I have created Automator scripts to manage sync at our multi-sites. We DO NOT want the local sites playing files from the NAS. This is critical! You will not want a service dependent on the internet or the NAS server for live playback. So, with that in mind, we have file folders created on the local site computer that are managed with Automator for syncing content down from the NAS. With automator, our service files are downloaded to the service folder on the local machine and kept up-to-date automatically.
Additionally, we are utilizing ProPresenter for slides, videos and other content. We utilize the power of HOT Folders for ProPresenter, so the songs, videos and sermons notes etc. are automatically pulled to ProPresenter with any update. So a last minute change to a sermon slide, is pushed to the NAS, down from the NAS to the local computer which is hot folder-ed accordingly and immediately updates to ProPresenter.
(as a side note: We utilize HipChat in service at all campuses to ensure that our teams are up to date as the service moves. This also allows for us to make sure the entire team is aware if a change is made last minute.) .
Some file folders we utilize are as following:
Graphics Artwork (we never delete the contents in this folder) - So with that being known, there are sub-folders that have Whole Church graphics, fonts and other continual need items. There are also folders based on series needs that remain on the local machines indefinitely. This way the local campus can grab any series artwork etc. at any point for whatever needs might arise at the site level.
Each of these, except the Playlist and Graphics Artwork are “Hot Folders”. The playlist is just a launching off point for the local site to utilize as a reference point. The Graphics Artwork is a local database for the sites needs.
On the NAS side we utilize the following additional file folders:
1. Archives - Year - Month - Week
2. Working Files - this folder is where work files are kept - to allow for team collaboration
3. Another hidden folder - as mentioned that backups up a third copy of weekly content
4. Video Asset Archives - this folder is where are service recordings land after services
So with all of these files and the hot folders we utilize, we must tighten things up. Here’s how we do that.
The weekly service folders on the local site machines are scheduled inside of Automator to dump every Monday morning at 4 AM. This clears all of the local machines files out from the previous week and readies it to receive content from the NAS that will begin to assimilate into service drives later on Monday afternoon. We do not have the pre-service slides dump as those are typically repetitive slides with slight alterations. It is cleaner and less taxing on our internet to have those files sync changes versus a dump - that way we aren’t downloading the same files over and over again.
Additionally the NAS folders are scheduled to migrate all service content over to the archives folder at 4 AM on Monday as well.
We have our service planning meeting at 3 PM on Monday. By this point the local drives of the multi-site machines are clear and the NAS service folders that are automatically sync’d down to the multisite machines are clear as well. This gives us a clean slate to begin assimilating content to the services folders for the coming week.
Additionally, some other things that the NAS does is allow us a place to archive service recordings from the weekend. On Sunday afternoon, at 3 PM, our weekly message recordings from all services are uploaded from the Broadcast site to the NAS (into the Video Asset Archives). This gives our team a place to pull recordings from for our website and any other needs that might arise. Once or twice a year this folder is migrated to another storage system to alleviate space constraints on the Synology NAS.
This pretty much covers the strategies and methods I have utilized for the past several years. I have used Drobos in the past for this method, but in the end the Synology system is much more capable, dependable and has proven itself up for the challenge of multi-site asset management.
Feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email with any questions.