Video Editing File Organization for Beginners, Semi-Pros, and Vloggers
Steps After You’ve Shot Your Video
So you shot amazing footage and now you want to piece it together to deliver to your client or show the world your new video, but one thing people never mention is how to organize your files. There’s nothing more frustrating than losing your footage in your computer or re-linking a hundred different files, or you’ve formatted the card you were editing off and now you’re totally F*%#&D! Over years of working in the industry at Discovery, Seeker, ON24, and now Level 2 Productions, I’ve come up with a solid file organization format that works great for me. I have on average 10 different video projects per week to edit and this really helps me stay organized especially since I will be referring back to multiple projects as clients get back to me with revisions at different increments of time. Now, let’s get started with some video editing file organization tips!
This is where you place the files your client had sent you that isn’t video, audio, or photos. Basically, where the boring items go like documents with edit notes or even a screenshot of a storyboard you’ve drafted or a PowerPoint project with slides of their presentation. Just a folder full of stuff related but not used in your final video.
This folder is where the video files go. No matter where you’ve gotten it or how its converted, you place them in here. I like to create subfolders based on the cameras I’ve used or event the type of shots the different cameras captured such as CLOSE-UPS, MEDIUM SHOTS, WIDE SHOTS, GLIDECAM or INTERVIEWS, BROLL, SPEECHES, depending on the shoot. Whatever works for you to remember the different files in each camera, you would label them based on that.
Where the photos will be held in any case you need to edit a photo in photoshop or lightroom before implementing them into your videos. I like to have subfolders in here as well, labeled (UNEDITED PHOTOS, and EDITED PHOTOS). This way, I can preserve the RAW images taken from the camera, and also have edited photos separated so I can send the entire file to the client or load those images into my video project if they necessary for the video.
Hows does this sound to you? All your audio files are placed in here and also categorized into subfolders based by different audio recorders or which room/stage it was recording. For example, if I were to record a multi-stage performance with different recorders on each stage, they would be labeled by the stage name. For a single room situation, I would label them by the type of microphone that its connected to: LAV, BOOM, SHOTGUN. For multi-track recording devices, I have 2 Zoom H4N Recorders. Since there are 2 recording devices and they both can record up to 4 different tracks, I’ve placed stickers on each of them labeled “1” and “2” so in this audio subfolder, I would have 2 folders labeled “H4N1 and H4N2. “H4N” is the model of the recorder and the number following is the sticker number I’ve placed on each one.
If you’re editing in Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, Sony Vegas, Avid, iMovie, or any other editing software, they all have created project files once you’ve saved your project. After you create a new project, select File > Save As then save this file into your Projects folder. Professionals usually have multiple project files for different reasons. In many cases, I have Adobe After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, and Audition project files all for a 1 minute commercial. It’s good to consolidate your project files together for each video you create, otherwise you’ll waste so much time searching for that one photoshop document that needs one little change requested from your client, which happens to be linked in your After Effects project, which is also linked into your Premiere project. Trust me, it freaking happens and when you don’t have it all in one place, you’ll be pulling out hairs from places you wouldn’t imagine!
I call this, the SEXY FOLDER since it has all the clean edited videos that are ready to be launched online for everyone to see, so show off your sexy (camera) angles! It’s best to label each completed video in sequence of completion so you and your clients know which one was the latest version with the most recent edits. This is how I label the Exports : (Client_VideoName_V1) for version 1. Ex: Amazon_FallLecture2019_V1. Once you send this to your client or friends and they want revisions, your second exported version will look like this: (Client_VideoName_V2). This is perfect since your clients or friends might suggest changes and you can always refer back to the first version as a backup if they end up going with V1. It’s also important to create a new sequence in your video project and label it as V2 before making edits. This is to separate V1 and V2 edits because there have been times where I make up to 3 revisions to a video and the client’s team end up wanting to make small revisions to V1 and delete V2 and V3. If I only had one sequence then I would be screwed, since I’ve already made a bunch of changes and the only way to go back to V1 is by editing it more to make it look like V1, or going to the auto-save project files and find the right file before I started on V2. It can get complicated and frustrating, so to save you from that unnecessary extra work, create another duplicate of your main editing sequence for new versions.
I hope this helps and if I missed anything or was unclear, please send a message and I’ll do what I can to help out other editors out there in the world. I’m just another editor like you trying to help out the community. Please feel free to post your new videos in the comments section below, I would love to see what you come up with!