When I edit, the more time I spend on non-editing tasks, the more the project suffers. That’s why I make sure that my workflow for tasks like outputting approvals and ingesting footage are nailed down with presets that I’ve worked out ahead of time.
But there’s an even more important process that makes me efficient: organization. Being organized enables me to find elements quicker, prevents mistakes and helps me work faster.
Good organization helps me find elements faster because everything is separated into various folders or bins rather than being dumped into a single “media” folder. When I need to grab a graphic or a sound effect, I know where to go.
Organization can prevent mistakes by making sure that I work on the latest version of a cut. If I move old cuts, old titles and old graphics into another folder, then I’ll make sure I use the correct one.
By staying organized, I can work faster because I use the same folder and bin structure project after project. I don’t have to think about where to put anything. Like muscle memory, my brain just knows where incoming files go because that’s where I’ve always put them.
You probably think that I’m going to lay out the way to organize files. Not at all. Trying to force-fit a structure won’t work and, except in certain team circumstances, isn’t really necessary. I’m not suggesting that you use my file structure, just that you create your own.
First, let’s deal with the folder structure on your workstation. When you have some time in between working on projects, create an empty master folder structure. Start with a main folder for the entire project. Within that folder, create a set of subfolders and maybe even sub-subfolders. Once this structure is complete, at the start of a new project you simply copy the master folder structure, rename it and you’re all set to go.
When you create the master folder structure, create a consistent project naming scheme, which will help when you search through archives. The master folder might be named “Client_Project_ProjNum_Date” or “Client_ ClientProjNum_Product_Project_ProjNum_Date”.
Again, this isn’t about my naming scheme. Make it yours. But use a title scheme that will work for all your types of projects. When you copy the master folder for a new project you can always delete unneeded elements in the title. For example, if a client doesn’t have their own project numbers, you can delete “ClientProjNum” from that particular folder title. But I’ve found that it is better to include everything in the master folder title—your titles will have a consistent order—rather than to name each project from scratch.
Next time, building up that master folder.