Tips for sending & receiving BIG media files electronically

With the size of media clips, graphics files and even powerpoint files growing larger all the time, transferring these files electronically is becoming more of a headache.

Here’s some suggestions for reducing the headache for you and your VLOBLIVE clients…

Often you will be in a situation before a VLOBLIVE gig where you want someone to send you a powerpoint file, or a movie clip or a graphic file in advance of the gig so you can do some work on it, (or at least check it’s not totally unusable!). Or you may have a ‘work in progress’ clip or image that you want approval on, or comments on, and you don’t have time to send a CD or DVD in the post.

In many cases these files may be many megabytes (MB) in size, and for video or audio files even tens of MB, especially if you want to keep the quality high for projection.

Even though most modern email services will accept files up to approx. 10MegaBytes (MB) or higher, it’s still a bit hit or miss sending large email attachments to people.

The need is for an easy, efficient way to send VERY large files to people, and, more importantly for allowing other non-techie people to send them to you.

 Of course you COULD set up your own ftp server or web server and do it yourself, but setting up a system where any member of the public (who is only just coping with the concept of attaching files to an email) can use it successfully isn’t so easy. (trust me on that one!)

 Here’s some suggestions for how to do this:

One-off large file sending services:

There are a number of web services that let you upload a file and send large files. The best known is probably http://yousendit.com.

These services let you upload a file, enter an email address and they will send an email to the recipient with a URL to download the file. They make money by adding advertising to the page that the recipient goes to to download the file. They have a 1GB limit on file size.

WIth Yousendit, they also offer a secure upload service using SSL.

Online storage services:

There’s a rapidly growing number of online storage services that offer to host your files online with ready access from anywhere via a web browser.

I have researched a few and I would currently recommend http://www.mediamax.com (formerly known as streamload)

They have a free service that has a 25GB storage limit, you can download 1GB a month, and individual files are limited to 25MB. That’s just about usable for most smaller compressed media files, and you can’t argue with the price.

Or you can pay $5 a month to have 100GB storage limit, download 10GB a month and individual file size is unlimited. This is what we currently use.

The reasons I recommend Mediamax are:

  • The interface is simple and elegant (a big improvement on the old streamload one) 
  • They have been around for a while, so aren’t a ‘flash in the pan’
  • You can send files by sending an email to the recipient with URLs to the files
  • You can also ‘host’ files, e.g. make them available as a public URL directly (helps with your website storage limits – just move big files ‘offshore’ to mediamax)
  • They are the only one I have seen who have a simple link on their homepage to let people UPLOAD big files to your account without them needing an account themselves. This makes it very simple to get big files from people. You just tell them to go to mediamax.com, click on the ‘upload files to streamload user’ link and follow through the steps.

Online collaboration services:

I have mentioned before that we use the Basecamp online collaboration service to project manage our VLOBLIVE gigs – it’s a great service (that costs $10 a month) and one of its many features is that it lets you upload files to share with other logged in collaborators. The file size limit for using the Basecamp servers is 10MB per file, but you can also point the system to your own ftp server or webserver space and host bigger files yourself. Of course those who are sending you stuff need to have a basecamp login, but if they are your clients, they would have this anyway, as that’s the whole point of the system.

The advantage of keeping the files in basecamp is that you can add comments or messages, or refer to files in other places in basecamp which keeps things very clear and organised.

Personal online storage:

Various ‘value-add’ online services include some form of online storage.

the .Mac service from Apple includes an ‘idisk’ online storage service that was recently upgraded to be accessible from a web client only (used to be you needed to make a WebDAV connection). This would let people upload or download files directly from your idisk. Storage space is shared with your .Mac email and websites and is 1GB in total, though you can pay for more.

There are rumours that Google are close to rolling our a ‘Gdrive’ service, providing online storage which may be of interest.

 One final note – there are a range of options available here, but remember that while you may have fantastically fast file DOWLOAD speeds on your broadband connection, file UPLOAD is going to be the limiting factor in most large file transfers. Don’t expect to upload an hour of DV video (13GB) in a big hurry!!

Anyone else have good suggestions of services or techniques to use?

Just add a comment below.

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One Response to Tips for sending & receiving BIG media files electronically

  1. […] Broadband is almost ubiquitous, so sending draft renders or completed video projects to remote clients and collaborators electronically is becoming more viable. That they have the bandwidth to receive your file doesn’t mean they have the technical knowledge to connect to an FTP server though. VLOBLIVE (Very LOw Budget LIve Video for Events) has some useful tips and links to get that file delivered easily: Often you will be in a situation before a VLOBLIVE gig where you want someone to send you a powerpoint file, or a movie clip or a graphic file in advance of the gig so you can do some work on it, (or at least check it’s not totally unusable!). Or you may have a ‘work in progress’ clip or image that you want approval on, or comments on, and you don’t have time to send a CD or DVD in the post. […]

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