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How to Properly Dump Camera Footage to Protect Your Assets

Michael Maher

Learn to properly dump camera footage like a professional Digital Imaging Technician. It’s the best way to verify that all your footage copied correctly.

If you don’t have the luxury of having a Digital Imaging Technician on set to manage your footage, or if you’re a DIT yourself, here are some great programs to verify that all of the camera footage is copied correctly.

So many users simply drag and drop their footage and never think twice about it. The problem with that is that there is no way to verify that footage is properly dumped. You may at least check to see the the file size of the folder matches the original memory card. If so, you are already way ahead of some users. The problem with going off of file size only is that there are still vulnerabilities.

To properly dump footage, you are going to need a program that performs a checksum verification. A checksum ensures that a file has been properly transferred from one storage device to another. The process will generate a string of numbers and letters, usually a MD5 or SHA-1. Essentially those numbers and letters act as a fingerprint of sorts.

Dump Camera Footage: code

If the footage was properly transferred, the checksum will match the original file with the duplicate. If the series of numbers and letters perfectly match, then the footage is verified to be a true copy. If there is any variation, you may have a file that didn’t transfer correctly or a corrupt one.

While the checksum verification may take slightly longer than a simple drag and drop, having documented proof of your data transfers will be crucial when something does go wrong. Here are some programs that will properly monitor your data transfers and give you a checksum verification.

DaVinci Resolve 12

Dump Camera Footage: DaVinci Resolve 12
Image via Blackmagic Design

We have previously discussed backing up your footage with DaVinci Resolve, and a lot of us at PremiumBeat are actually using Resolve now to dump our footage because of the checksum verification feature.

While originally a color grading platform, DaVinci Resolve 12 is turning into an all in one production software. The latest version (12) added an NLE and the awesome clone media tool.

Dump Camera Footage: Resolve Media
Image via Blackmagic Design

To use the clone media tool, you just need to:

  1. Go to the Media Page, click the “Clone” button on the left of the Media Pool tool bar.
  2. The Clone Palette will pop up and you can create a new job by clicking the “Add Job” button.
  3. Now just drag the memory card icon to the “Drop source here” hot spot.
  4. Drag and drop the destination drives to the “Drop destination here” hot spots to set them up as the targets.
  5. Click the “Clone” button. Resolve will automatically make bit-for-bit checksum verified copies of your card.

The Lite version of DaVinci Resolve 12 is available for free and compatible with Mac and Windows. The Studio version is available for $995 and is compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux.

ShotPut Pro

ShotPut Pro

ShotPut Pro is an industry-standard software. It allows you to easily offload media cards and disc recorders. Take a look at this intro video to see how easy it is to use the program.

ShotPut Pro is available for $99 and is compatible with Mac and Windows.


Dump Camera Footage: DoubleData

DoubleData provides asset management and checksum verification for RED cameras and the ARRI ALEXA. One of the benefits of the program is the multiple error notifications you will receive if something does go wrong.

When Double Data detects something is wrong, it will let you know via definitive red X in the main window, email & text notifications, Growl, and iOS notifications. Double Data helps you to make informed decisions about your valuable footage.

DoubleData also recognizes errors in file types. It will send warnings when nonessential files have changed. It knows the difference in errors between MOV files and R3D files, as well as XML and RMD files.

DoubleData is available RED and ARRI Alexa cameras for $74 on Mac or Windows. The Windows version has not yet been released. 

Are you using a program that we haven’t listed? Let us know in the comments below.