Labor (Day) of Love

In honor of yesterday’s holiday, here’s another example of one of the unexpected obstacles that crop-up during film production – especially one as technologically dependent as The Price!

While opening a file I hadn’t worked on in some time, I was met with this heart-stopping notification:


It happens when a program (in this case, Adobe After Effects) can’t find the files in the location where they were stored the last time AE used them. Why does this happen? Usually it’s because the user has moved them.

You know those boxes in your garage – the ones that stack-up over time until you are finally forced to dig them out and spend tedious hours going through their seemingly endless contents? It’s exactly the same with a computer, whose storage has limits and needs to be managed. So you move things around in an attempt to make more room, hopefully getting rid of all of the unnecessary stuff in the process. Also, hard drives can wear out unexpectedly, making backups and periodic hardware upgrades an important safety precaution to help avoid catastrophic data losses.

In this case, it was slightly more… complicated. Way, way back on April 6th, 2011, I posted about receiving a Drobo storage device, a file backup system with a special RAID configuration that would copy the data over 8 separate drives so that even if 2 of the drivers were to fail, nothing would be lost.

All had been working well until an unforeseen power outage crashed the Drobo and corrupted the file storage system, meaning that the “directory” for where everything was stored was now unreadable across all 8 drives!

Luckily, I had been building a new backup system because (like me), the old one was starting to show signs of age. I had already transferred many of the files, but “the great exodus” was still in progress when the Drobo went down.


I immediately began the long and protracted process to recover its File System (which takes upwards of 3 months to complete, and I’m now on my 3rd attempt); for now, I have to deal with missing file situations as they pop-up.

Thankfully, in this instance I was able to locate the source file for the missing animation, and with a little effort was able to reconstitute the sequence (while actually improving it as a bonus). Here’s a look at the shot (it’s actually the first time you get to see “The Narrator” in the film):


The moral of the story is that the Boys Scouts got it right: Be Prepared.

About Xtopher

Director of The Price, and Owner/Creative Director of Silver Fish Creative, LLC.
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14 Responses to Labor (Day) of Love

  1. Tim says:

    Thanks so much for the update, Christopher! Love seeing the process/progress.

  2. Dinah says:

    Heart-stopping indeed, but I love your preparedness, your perseverance, and your vision. What an amazing project this is.

    • Xtopher says:

      That is very kind of you Dinah, thank you! But I have learned (after having had my heart stop many, many times now) that there is almost always a way to figure things out — as Dory is wont to say: “Just keep swimming!”

  3. Jordi says:

    That is a nightmare error to get. Sudden power interruptions are no joke, as any console kid knows… “do not turn off the console while the game is saving”!

    I am glad you were able to recover, but perhaps it’s wise to invest in a NAS for the storage.

    • Xtopher says:

      That’s EXACTLY what I did! Got my little 5-drive Terra Master humming right along, hooked-up to my UPS with battery reserve! (I’m actually looking into some online redundancy options as well.) Always appreciate you taking time to check in Jordi! :)

  4. Jon Schjelderup says:

    I think all of us who’ve worked on big projects know the horror of the misplaced file(s)! 😉

    Thanks for the update, it’s really much appreciated.

  5. Martha Hart says:

    Thanks for the update, Christopher (and Glynis!) … while the destination is good (obviously), the process is the journey and don’t we all learn from all the ups and downs!
    Love the perseverance – we’re not giving up on you, either!

  6. Hugh Eckert says:

    Thanks for the update! It didn’t tell you what files it couldn’t find? How annoying!

    • Xtopher says:

      Thanks Hugh! Oh it did (inside the Project Settings panel), so I knew what was missing and had to either relink the files or in this case, recreate them.

  7. Marcy Gaston says:

    Oh God, all of this sounds way too familiar! I’m in the process of gathering the necessary equipment to tear down my entire piecemeal system and getting it organized for better backup, particularly my huge collection of press photos — 11 years of San Diego Comic-Con, a couple of small film festivals, etc. — things that fill me with horror at the idea of losing. I’m also finally adding a UPC like yours, something that will at least give me enough time for a proper shutdown in the event of power failure. It’s a sort of massive job, with lots of other things involved, but at the end, I should have a better organized, better backed up, safer system. I sure hope so!

    So glad things worked out OK for you in the long run. Thanks for the interesting update!

    • Xtopher says:

      You are wise my friend — it truly is a massive pain, but worth it in the end! Best of luck to you Marcy (it sounds like you have more than your share of gems to protect)! :)

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