How to Create a Workflow and Organize an Edit

Establish a workflow from day one. Footage takes up a hell of a lot of space, cameras auto-name the video clips, and editing software creates render files you don’t want to touch. So make sure from the get-go that everything is where you want it to be!

Herewith a few helpful tips on steps to take before you shoot:

  • Figure out how your footage gets from your smart phone (or camera) to your filing system (i.e. Dropbox, Google Drive, etc). Have a dedicated hard drive for editing – you do not want to edit off your computer’s hard drive
  • Have a second, dedicated hard drive for back ups
  • Establish a folder system and naming convention for the folders and keep it as a template (see examples below)
  • Establish file naming conventions BEFORE you shoot

    CWP_Edit_Folder_Template

    Clock Wise Productions’ edit folder structure template

If this seems a bit of overkill for a simple iPhone video shoot, I can tell you from painful experience, that it’s not. When I ventured into the DIY video marketing world not too long ago I realized that all the set up we do on professional shoots are equally as necessary for DIY, simply ANY shoot.

Here’s why: Any video recording device will name the clips you shoot at random (not random to them, but to humans), files are huge and will need to be stored on external hard drives, and professional edit software creates render files that need to have a “home”, because once they are created you do not want to move them (trust me).

The set up steps in more detail:

  • You want to test if your WiFi signal is fast enough to get the footage you shoot from your smart phone onto your file management system, or if you need to go hardwire through your computer.
  • If you shoot with a chip camera, figure out the workflow from chip to hard drive
  • Ideally you store your footage on an external hard drive
  • I keep my non-media files (on Dropbox) completely separate from my video and media files because raw footage and editing files are so large
  • Create a folder for each video project. Below an example of what my nomenclature and folder structure looks like. If you plan on a few videos, I would create a folder structure like the one below and safe it as a template so you don’t have to re-create it each time.
  • Naming your files: I’m super particular and like to go about it in the following sequence: ProjectName_Date_Version#. If there is a job number associated with the project I put it first: Job#_ProjectName_Date_Version#.
  • I always insist on a date AND a version number, because more often than not, you will have several outputs (renders) on the same day, especially towards the end.
Sample Edit Folder Setup for a Project Called: "Video Marketing Introduction".

Sample folder structure for project: “Video Marketing Introduction, May 2016”.

Same Folder as Above, but Expanded

Same folder as above, but expanded [this is a sample only, based on a real project].

On topic, but after the shoot:

  • The moment you download your original footage make a back up and store it at a safe (off-site if possible) place!
  • When you set up your editing project you will need to tell the software where to get the footage from and where to save the project to. It is important to keep that folder unmoved and to not rename it. It creates utter havoc if you do (I’ve been there and it’s ugly).
  • I strongly suggest editing off an external hard rive and not your computers hard drive. It makes your project portable and, once you’re done, immediately storable, and accessible for further re-edits should that be necessary.

Which brings me to my last tip: Never name a file “final” – there is no final, there’s just the moment your deadline looms and “they” take the project away from you.

I can’t tell you how many folders I have marked “Final Cut of X-Project” and in it you will find .mp4 files with names like: “ProjectName_date_Final”, then “ProjectName_date_FinalFinal”, or “ProjectName_date_Final_V3”, and so on. You might as well just keep your naming convention and your final is the one with the latest date and the highest version number.