How long do you save client material after the shoot?


I've been averaging six to eight months when I save client footage after a shoot.

Granted, I deal with more international clients than US clients so, in some ways, there is a greater chance for accidents to happen. Most times these clients come in for a week and we will shoot three or four different stories. At the end of the week all of the video is transfered to their hard drive to take back with them to produce their stories.

In this case, the tv news magazine producer gave her hard drive, with all the material we shot, to an editor and...not sure how...he reformatted the drive and they lost all of the video. Four of the five stories we shot had already been edited and aired. The final one was planned for this week.

I'm a little anal about making sure video doesn't get lost. I back up all material on two separate external drives after each shoot.

Got a frantic call from the producer yesterday explaining her situation and hoping I still had the material from that final shoot.

In the end...I was their hero for still having the video more than a month after the shoot. Copied the video to another hard drive, then a quick trip to DHL to ship it off to Colombia and a grateful producer.

It got me an additional half-day of pay for my effort and they covered the cost of hard drive and shipping.

This kind of accident does not happen often...only the second time I've had a client have this happen after a job...but I wondered how long others kept client material after the shoot and the check has cleared?

2 Hungry Dogs

Well-known member
I keep all footage on my RAID or an external hard drive for 60 days. This method provides ready access to any footage should a client call and have an issue. In reality I don't delete it on day 60. I check my footage once a month, and anything that is older the 60 days I delete, so it's more like 60-90 days. And I am not overly diligent about it, so it could be longer.

Depending on the project it could be a lot longer. Projects that we shoot one thing, then never see again we don't keep much more then that. If we are editing the project, then the footage stays on the RAID until 60 days after final approval. Then the whole project gets archived and put in long term storage onto BluRay. There is no plan to destroy this footage currently. We recently digitized all the old raw Beta footage. Boy did that clear some space.

Necktie Boy

Well-known member
I like Joel's systems, but there really isn't a hard fast rule for saving footage. It depends. How much hard drive space you have, and willing to hang on to footage that you really don't need.

If you don't have an agreement with the producer about saving footage for X time, you could delete the footage on the day you and it over. It's there responsibility to make backup copies.

At least on the sound board, they save their files till the film project sound is done or as Joel does 60 days to a year. Sound files are smaller, but still take up space. They all agree that it's the production company responsibility to manage their video and audio files.

Most soundie have at least saved the day, like you John, by having a backup of the files.

As long as you have the hard drive space, and don't mind hanging onto the footage for awhile, it really shouldn't be a problem.

Tv Shooter

Well-known member
I will generally ask the client when this will air. So I usually keep it until the air date, and ask them to notify me when it has, and then I'll dump it if I need room. I have several 2TB drives, so maybe 2-3 times a year I cull out stuff.
It depends on what it is. If it is something sensitive or proprietary I will usually offer to back it up and will dump it as soon as whatever window has passed.

Other stuff I will keep longer, often times 6 months or until I get to it. And if it is something that is memorable or has footage that I may want in the future for demo type stuff I will hang onto it. But like I said it really depends on the client and job.


Well-known member
Usually, 3-4 yr. depending upon what it is. I have had a couple of clients come back to me looking for 4 yr old stuff and they were lucky I had stuff for them, including a Spanish version script. I don't feel they can expect me to keep it for them unless they ask me to and then I offer to transfer to a HD for a fee. After 2 yr. I am guilt free. :>)


Well-known member
If they don't pay me in 30 days, I threaten to format cards and all media:D

Actually, I keep it indefinitely, if it's longer than two years, I don't trip about trashing it if I need the space. I have a RAID setup with lots of space.

Ben Longden

Well-known member

News stories are always subject to legals... and sometimes the ND wants to see the wild reel that they lost back at base... or the cops want to search for faces in a crowd..

With the private gigs, I also archive everything indefinitely.
I did a Deb Ball three years ago, and just recently one of the kids in it was killed in a car crash.
The organisers found that the family did not have copy....
But I did.

The raw files, all the Vegas and DVDA workfiles... the lot.

As you might say, its an ass saver.
After all, two terabytes is a hundred dollars.

I dont archive to one HDD, but to three. Just in case.
A bit anal, perhaps, but its paid off.