As Chris Aguilar gathered his gear after covering another successful
Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships — a grueling, 32
mile race across open ocean between Oahu and Moloka’i — a media
representative approached him to ask for clips from a previous race year.
"My heart sank a bit then —
I knew I was in for days at a time
back in the office trying to find
that footage for them."
- Chris Aguilar, Producer/Director Fin Films
Chris Aguilar of Fin Films delivers
cinematic video for brands and
events, and is well known for his
documentary work, and paddleboard racing events coverage such
as the Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships.
Chris leapt at the chance to help promote the sport of paddleboard racing, and knew he
had the perfect footage for the media outlet’s story, but it could be on one of any
number of hard drives back in his production office in LA. Over the years, Chris has
emerged as the premier documentary filmmaker and event coverage specialist for the
tight-knit paddleboard racing community. His hard work in tough conditions has earned
him several awards for his work, but it’s also generated thousands of hours of content.
A Sea of Hard Drives
Paddleboard races are grueling events — and filming them is
as well. Chris begins his day by putting all the equipment he’ll
need for the day in a waterproof Pelican case, loading it onto a
boat (or swimming it out when there's no dock available). This
means that he has to hand carry all of his camera gear and
batteries to cover an entire day's shooting.
When the event is over, it’s common to quickly save the raw
and finished files to an external drive for immediate editing,
deliver the finished files then put that hard drive on the
shelf — before dashing off to the next shoot. And so, over the
years, Chris estimates that he had gathered about 20 terabytes
of footage documenting the rise of the paddleboard
community over the years.
In more than a decade covering the sport of paddleboarding,
Chris has collected priceless footage documenting the sport,
such as the moment Jamie Mitchell won his tenth consecutive
championship, and Kai Lenny's winning performances in both
stand up paddling and foil races. Chris knew that if something
happened to his physical drives, a significant portion of this
sport’s history could be lost.
"I was the only guy in the water covering Battle
of the Paddle in 2008. That footage is worth so
much to me — not monetarily but for historical
value to the sport. That one single hard drive
contains footage that is irreplaceable. If that
drive were lost it would be a heartbreaker."
- Chris Aguilar, Fin Films
If his collection of the sport’s history was vulnerable —
he also couldn’t help promote the sport as fully as he
wanted to. With all his content locked on hard drives,
having to manually search for content for each media
request or collaborative opportunity was
Taming the Tides
As someone with a professional background in technology, Chris was intensely aware of how vulnerable
all that priceless content was on aging hard drives. His oldest drives were ten years old, far past the
typical consumer warranties of 36 months. Chris had already paid a drive reconstruction team to salvage
one-of-a-kind footage once, and didn’t want to think about having to do it for more.
As he began to study how to get that content safely
onto other storage where it could be secured and
organized, he quickly ruled out hardware-based
solutions like NAS or RAID systems due to the high
initial cost and maintenance required. Chris needed
access to his entire content library but couldn’t be tied
to his production office.
He realized that cloud storage was ideal not only for
inexpensive storage, but also because it offered
extremely high levels of access. His files would be
available and retrievable wherever and whenever he
needed them. Of all the solutions he looked at,
Backblaze’s B2 service was the most straightforward
and the simplest. Chris signed up, and began
uploading his most irreplaceable content first.
Chasing the Perfect Solution
With storage decided, Chris then began exhaustively
researching his content organization options. As a
documentary filmmaker and event coverage specialist, his
workflow was closer to that of a remote team building
story packages in the field, while also accumulating
valuable B-roll footage that could be used in future stories
or films of intense interest to the paddleboard community.
When combined with the archive of an entire career of
branded content, personal projects, photography, and
more, the organizational needs were demanding.
Most content management solutions demanded a
dedicated server with storage, and as Chris was rarely in
his production office this didn’t fit his needs. Almost
every solution was loaded with features he couldn’t use
and didn’t want. He felt like he could never find the sweet
spot of features that fit his agile, mobile shooting style
while also helping him collaborate and share content
without forcing him to commit to thousands of dollars a
month in licensing fees.
A Digital Native Fit
At last, Chris came upon iconik. iconik’s pay-as-you-use-it
solution allowed him to add collaborators on the fly and
share his content quickly by adding view-only licenses at
no charge. With no up-front license fee and support and
maintenance built-in to the service, Chris knew that he had
found a solution that fit the way he wanted to work.
Best of all, iconik could ingest the content that Chris had
already uploaded to Backblaze without having to pull
down, re-upload, and re-ingest the content.
Chris liked that iconik and Backblaze worked well
together and that they were both digital-native services
with clear and transparent pricing and administration. At
last, Chris could get all of his content freed from his hard
drives and into a single library where he could find and
work with any content quickly
To get his content uploaded faster, Chris used
Backblaze’s Fireball Rapid Ingest Service. Backblaze sent
a 70TB NAS system to his office, and Chris began
copying over content from his loose hard drives. As Chris
went through the hard drives, he was doubly surprised:
First, because he found many forgotten gems of content
that could fuel new projects, but more so because he
realized he had far more content than the 20 terabytes he
originally estimated. By the time he finished filling the
Fireball, he had loaded closer to 60 terabytes.
After shipping the Fireball system back to Backblaze,
where its contents were uploaded to his storage
buckets in the B2 Cloud servers, where iconik
ingested the new material, created thumbnails and
proxies as needed and added the metadata he had
already applied to files on disk.
"Knowing that my content was finally
safely copied over from hard drives gave
me incredible peace of mind — it’s scary
not having that safety net."
- Chris Aguilar, Fin Films
A New World of Creative Possibilities
With all of his content in one place, a world of
new creative possibility opened up. A footage
request now goes from ‘several weekends in
the office going through hard drives’ to a few
keyword searches, then sharing via iconik in a
matter of minutes. With iconik and Backblaze
integrated in his workflow, Chris can cut a main
story together while another collaborator cuts
short clips for social media from the same
footage — speeding up his time to complete
a story while tremendously boosting an event’s
coverage in real time.
Most intriguing, though, is the realization that he can re-cut, and
re-imagine projects he’d done years earlier. With access to the
original source files at his fingertips, he can pull together an entirely
new package quickly, and cut everything in a way that matches his
current style. Above all, Chris has peace of mind knowing that his
content is, at last, safely archived, and all in one library where he
can keep the spirit of sharing, collaboration, and community alive
for the sport that he loves.
"With iconik and Backblaze I can actually go back and recreate some of the work I did earlier and re-tell
those stories in
the way I would today vs. when I started out. That to me is the
most powerful part — and I can do that from anywhere now —
I don't have to go to the office."
- Chris Aguilar, Fin Films
Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage has become the cloud storage
of choice for content creators by offering extreme levels of
content protection and instant availability at one-fourth the
cost of the largest cloud storage solution. At only $5 per
terabyte per month of content stored, creatives can finally
get all of their content into a truly active archive, streamline
their production workflows, and phase out expensive,
hard-to-manage tape and disk archive systems.