While I don’t freelance as much as I used to, instead opting to edit at my own office, on the occasion I do I’m almost always shocked at how many editors don’t have good organization skills. While some might argue that it’s just part of being creative, I would disagree. With a little pre-planning and extra thought up front, all of your projects can be more organized and efficient. In this post I’ll talk about 2 ways that we keep things organized at Edit Creations and even include a template folder that you can download and modify for your own needs.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you should always approach your projects in a way that would allow any other editor to step in and take over should that be necessary. Maybe you need to call in sick and the project must go on, maybe you change jobs, or maybe you get hit by a bus walking to lunch (not likely, but I’m just saying…). The point is, don’t just think of yourself, think about how you might help the next editor down the line, not to mention the producer.
With today’s projects being based almost entirely on electronic elements, one place that things can get messy is your hard drive. Throwing QT movies, photoshop files, scripts, aftereffects renders and everything else into a single folder can easily get overwhelming. Even worse, what if they’re not in a single folder but instead all over multiple hard drives and the local network!
Add in the factor of working in a multi-user environment and it makes even more sense. At Edit Creations we have 3 rooms that all share the same media and same files. There are times when more then one room will be working on the same project, and that would be nearly impossible without some simple rules and guidelines in place.
But enough talking about it, let’s take a look at a template project folder.The folder shown below is the template that we use for every job. New jobs are assigned a job number and title that stays with the project all the way through. The template folder is copied into the active projects folder and renamed to reflect the project name.
As you can see, there are pre-made folders for all of the different assets that most jobs need. Not every folder is used on every job, but every every possible asset has a home. So when it comes time to save or open any type of file, there is only one (maybe two) places it can be.
And receiving elements from the producer is a snap as well. If the producer hands you a memory stick with photos, VO and a script on it, it’s pretty easy to figure out where to put each of them. And while you could create these folders as you go, it saves time and preserves consistency by having the same folder set for each project/editor.
In our project folder, all of the projects come together nicely.
Here is another benefit to consider. When the project is done, approved and in the can – it is very easy to backup the project and all of its assets (excluding captured media, which we don’t save as part of the project) to a DVD, HD or LTO tape. We always do a full resolution QT export of all final edited pieces (that go into the FCP Export folder) and what we end up with is a nice tidy package of files that can easily be backed up for future use.
Another great benefit to using the project number system is removing all elements related to a project. My normal procedure to remove a project once it’s safely backed up, is to search all media drives locally and on the network for the job number. This finds the project folder, render files, captured media, auto-save vault files, and anything else tied to that number. From the find window, I then do a select all and delete everything. Couldn’t be easier.
But let’s take it one step further. The project folder is great, but how about organizing your FCP project file and have that as part of the folder? I found I was always creating the same folders over and over again. While it doesn’t take that much time, it does add up over the years.
Take a look at this FCP project. This is how every job starts out, and again, has many pre-made folders to get started.
Also notice the very top folder in the project.
Long gone are the days of one video format fits all. The simple days of everything being on BetaSP and working in NTSC are gone for good. Our jobs range from DVCPro to full resolution 1080p uncompressed HD (we’re still waiting for our first RED project). So every project has to be setup properly based on the project needs. Even if the project was shot in HD, we don’t always edit in HD, it all depends on what the final project needs are. One way we communicate this to each other (and as a reminder to ourselves) is to rename that top folder with the project specific settings. Then if you open the project to do some work you just run the associated Easy Setup to set the edit system up properly.
Once a year (usually around this time) I go through both the project template folder as well as the FCP template project and make minor changes as I see fit. If you would like to give it a try, below is the link to our current template folder.
If you’re interested in more tips on keeping your projects organized, shoot me an email.