Editing: Get Organized!

If, as Edmund Burke asserted, "good order is the foundation of all good things," then good video production may spring from a bit of organization. In particular, an integrated method for naming things like shots, tapes, projects and files can save one from madness when it comes time to assemble those things into productions. And it saves time by the bucketful.

There must be 100 naming systems and any of them is bound to be better than no system at all. We offer only one way here, as a point of departure. Follow these pictures to a system that will keep the best shots in your entire archive at your fingertips, and that will bring all the assets for a given project into your timeline in the right order. How can anything but beautiful video productions result?

This storyboard shows the project name that will be used on all elements of the project, as well as a sequential numbering system for scenes and shots that uses two digits for each.

The shot log. Note that the project name is carried from the storyboard to the shot log; also that scene and shot numbers follow those of the storyboard, not the order in which the shots were actually taken.

Tapes are numbered sequentially with three-digit numerals. We use "F" or "M" before the tape number to indicate whether a tape contains raw Footage or edited Masters. The number is followed by the same project name that appears on the respective storyboards and shot logs. This is followed by the initial shooting date for the tape.

Note that the project carries the same project name as the storyboard and shot logs.

We create a batch capture log for each tape of raw footage. The filename of the log is the tape number of its respective tape. We log all the decent shots listed on that tape’s shot logs. Note that filenames in the batch capture log begin with scene and shot numbers matching those of the storyboard and shot log. When captured, these shots will automatically appear in their correct storyboard order in the project window. Letters following the scene and shot number indicate multiple takes of the same shot, e.g. 0204_MC_elephant_trunk_a and 0204_MC_elephant_trunk_b. We keep all of our batch capture lists in a dedicated folder. Containing, as it does, a shot log for every tape in our collection, this folder places every good shot we’ve ever taken at our fingertips.

We create an archive folder, within a main folder called "Videos," for every project. This folder bears the name of the project itself, Circus_Ad. It contains the trimmed project and batch files – systematically named – as well as the title, graphic, still picture and audio files that were used in the project. Finally, it contains the final rendered video itself, in a file given the number of a master tape – beginning with the letter "M," and the name of the project. It is possible also to save the trimmed clips themselves into an archive folder. As a space saver, we generally choose not to, as these can be re-captured – as trimmed for the project – from the original tapes, using the trimmed batch list. We regularly backup the "Videos" folder and all of its contents, like any other folder of valuable data.

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