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File Naming for Video Editors, Designers & Photographers

Danny Greer
By Danny Greer
By Danny Greer

Avoid a media management meltdown by following these tips on file naming – especially applicable for video editors, graphic designers and photographers!

File Naming

When you’re naming your digital files, especially deliverables, there’s an easy way to save yourself headaches down the road:

ALWAYS version

NEVER use the word “final”

With video editing, photography and graphic design, its typical that a final version may not stay a final version for long.  Clients may request changes, weeks, months or even years down the road.  Worse, they have multiple rounds of changes after you’ve send them a “final” deliverable.  So, using the word “final” in your naming can quickly get you into hot water.

Instead, use a version number so there will be no confusion as to what file is the latest version.

A few more best practices for naming and working with digital files…

HYPHENATE FILES

Always hyphenate file names to separate words instead of using underscores.  Aside from being easy to look at, file names with hypens are more web friendly (search engines can parse out the words).  For instance a good looking filename would be “project-name-client-name-v6.mov”

ADD METADATA

Add metadata to the file to help jog your memory about changes that were made to the project.  On a Mac you can “get info” on a file (shortcut: CMD + I) and make notes on the file (for example date delivered, changes, distribution, etc).  Once you’ve added this metadata to your video, graphic or photo you can enable it to show up in the Finder window (View > Show View Options > Show Comments).

CONSISTENT VERSIONING

Always keep your file names consistent throughout your digital pipeline.  Once a version name is created in your project (be it Photoshop, Illustrator or a timeline in a video editing application) do not change it!  I’ve seen editors change version numbers on their final deliverable video, but not on the sequences in their video editing app.  What an organizational nightmare!  Make sure your source file or editing sequence has the same name as the flattened (delivered) video or graphic.

Do you have any tricks you use for naming your digital files?
How do you keep your versions organized?
Share in the comments!