Starting Organized, Part 3

I previously wrote about how getting organized can help you to be more efficient so that you spend more time editing and less time managing media. I suggested that if you take the time to create a “master” folder structure, you can copy that structure as you begin each project, rather than recreating a new system each time. And in Part 1 of this three-part series, I discussed what’s in the first two folders—Audio and Color—of the Master Folder structure. Then, in Part 2, I discussed the next four folders: Design, Exports, FromClient and GFX.

Now I’m going to discuss the last two folders of the Master Folder structure: Media and ProjectFiles.

Setting up a master folder structure


Media is the folder that I’ve adjusted many times over the years. Sometimes I think of it as a work in progress. I used to have only a Footage folder, but it started to get complicated. What about stock footage, stabilized footage, etc.? So, I renamed it Media and added several subfolders.

I put all the footage into—you guessed it—the Footage folder. I keep the structure of all the footage that I receive in its original layout. It’s never a good idea to start playing around with the folder structure that comes from today’s cameras. However the DIT laid it out, that’s what I use. If there are multiple DITs, multiple days, I create folders within the Footage folder to delineate that. If there are DIT reports, logs and LUTs, I keep them with the footage just as they are. The only thing I move, as I said before, is the location audio. And I only do that once I’m clear about which audio folders go with which production days.

I use the Created folder for files like footage that are stabilized or where I do tracking for screen replacement or dust removal. Or I might use Created if I want to render a scene with a different frame rate interpretation, aspect ratio or some other pre-render need. For example, if I need a clip with a special blur, I may want to prerender it to save render time. Yes, I could use the Design folder for this, but I think of this content as less about motion design and more about “fixing” stuff. I prefer not to put this new “footage” in the Footage folder because it might have filenames similar to those in Footage. If I have 10 days of footage, trying to find where to put it can be daunting.

The Stills folder might seem to duplicate Graphics or Design, but there are times when stills make up a good deal of a program. (Just ask Ken Burns.) It’s not really footage, but it’s similar to it.

The Stock folder contains subfolders for Comps and Purchased so I can keep track of what’s purchased. While you might think that watermarks help with this, some accounts have special relationships with the stock houses so they can get watermark-free comps. You don’t want to use them for the finished project without licensing!

Setting up a master folder structure


The last folder is the ProjectFiles folder. I use this mainly for the main project file storage, but I’ll also use it for previews—if the storage drive is fast enough.

I also use this folder for proxies. It has been my experience that Premiere Pro likes it if you place proxies in the Project folder. It’s not that it won’t work if you place proxies elsewhere, but I’ve run into permission problems on some workstations and have had to relink the proxies each time I started the project. I’ve found the easiest solution is to have Premiere create the proxies within the same folder where my project is.

So that’s my Master Folder structure. While it’s a lot to read, in the time you’ve taken to read this you can create your own folder structure and start cloning it each time you start a new project. This gets you organized before you start and it can keep you organized all the way to the finish.

Organizing the filesystem is one thing, but what about organization within your edit software? It doesn’t have to be the same structure. In fact, you may find that it shouldn’t be the same structure. More on that next time.