Automate folder structures and naming conventions

Create reusable templates for your project and folder structures. Setup naming conventions, so you never have to rename a file or folder again.

Matthäus Niedoba
April 19, 2022
6
min read

The problem with folder structures

I'm assuming you already use a folder structure that works for your workflow. In my 3D projects, I always have two standard templates for still images or animation projects. These structures help me not to worry about organization, so I can focus on creative work.

However, one problem remains. If I use a template for a new project or shot, I have to manually adjust folder and file names. Everyone hates this process, and in a team it's another cause for errors. If I want to create a new shot, I have to adjust the folder name and also the corresponding 3D and compositing file, e.g. s01_shot0080_anim_v001.blend

To get around this problem, I want to create templates with tokens. If the template is copied into a project, all tokens with terms like customer, project, asset name or shot number will be replaced automatically by the correct name. With Anchorpoint, I can automate this process without any Python skills.

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What is a token?

A token is a placeholder that can be positioned inside a folder or file name. After the template folder structure is copied to the project directory, a batch rename process is executed that converts all tokens.

Folder structures and naming conventions in Anchorpoint
The process of resolving tokens

For this example, we use the following folder structure

A folder structure template with tokens
The same folder structure with the correct naming

During the project, I have to create many 3D assets and shots. Blender files, for example, have the asset name and the shot number in the filename. This is super useful to quickly identify the file and where it belongs to. Tokens can be particularly helpful as I only have to enter the asset name once and wherever [Project] is written, [Project] is replaced with the correct project name.

What is Anchorpoint

Anchorpoint is a free asset management tool for VFX and animation projects that can create and use templates for folder structures. Anchorpoint uses the token system and can resolve a set of standard tokens automatically.

The following standard tokens are available:

[YYYYMMDD] - Shows the date e.g. 20220407
[YYYY-MM-DD] - Shows the date  e.g. 2022-04-07
[YYYY] - Shows the year
[MM] - Displays the month
[DD] - Displays the day

All other tokens will show an input field. The token will then be replaced by the artist’s input. Let's have a look at this in the following three steps:

Setting up a template with tokens

1. Navigate to your template folder (your empty folder structure) and select "Save as template" in the context menu

Use your existing folder structure and save it as a template

2. Open the tab where the template will be placed and put square brackets “[ ]” around words like  “Client”, “Project” etc.

As soon as a word is in a square bracket, it is recognized as a token. The artist gets an input field to specify e.g. the name of the client.

Place brackets between words. This way you are creating a token

3. Now you can create a new folder from a template anywhere in Anchorpoint. The popup shows you all tokens you have set in the template. If you have specified [Client] in several places, [Client] will be replaced by the name of the client in each folder or file.

All tokens will show up as input fields
The project is created and all tokens are resolved