Film Scoring 101: Version Numbers

Posted By: ryan On:

A simple tip I picked up back at Remote Control was the importance of labelling your files with good version numbers. By using a simple system for labelling project sessions and mixes, you avoid all kinds of confusion and wasted time.

A new project always starts with v1.0 , a blank slate. After I take a break, or even pause work for the day, when I come back I will save a new session as v1.1. Sometimes the session can get corrupted, or I might make a drastic change and decide I want to go back. By saving as a new session, I avoid all risk of never getting something back.

The second digit will continue to go up until I finally decide it’s ready to send to the client. At which point the mix will simply be v1, not v1.x. The client doesn’t need to know how many times I stopped to get a snack, they simply need to know “This is the first version”.

The instant I get notes and am beginning on revisions, the session becomes v2.0. And as you can guess, all minor updates are 2.1, 2.2 etc. until I send v2 to the client.

Simple but effective. There is only clarity, never confusion. When the client says “can we go back to that thing you did in version 3?”, you just jump back to your session called v3.x and get going.

NEVER call something “New” or “Latest” or anything ridiculous like that. There will always be a “newer” new and your file name will be frustrating and meaningless the moment you start work on the next version.

Bonus tips:
– If I send the client a work in progress (maybe I want them to hear the first half to make sure it’s going the right direction), I will often call it v0. It doesn’t become v1 until it’s a complete full version.
Ideas are marked with letters instead of numbers. So if I’m going to work on a five minute piece and the client wants to hear a few short ideas first, I will send “Idea A, Idea B, Idea C”. Then they can say “Let’s go with Idea B” and the first full version I send them becomes v1.

photo by Nick McPhee

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