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January 30, 2014
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PremiereVideo Editing

Keeping Your Video Editing Projects Organized

Keeping a project clean and organized is essential. Spend less time searching for assets and more time editing. In this post, we share organization tips and a free project file.

If you’re going to call yourself a professional, you should work like a professional. An insanely disorganized project is a nightmare, and ultimately reflects poorly upon you as en editor. We bring in freelancers pretty regularly at my office and if I’m given the choice to bring back a great editor who leaves a disaster of files and other mess in their wake or  a slightly less great editor who keeps things in order and under control you can bet I’ll choose the organized one every time. He or she makes it easier for me to quickly pick up the project for later revisions if necessary.

In this post, I want to share a structure for  how I like to organize my video editing projects. This is an empty skeleton that I use as a basis for all projects, then fill-in as needed:

Blank Bin Template
 

Here’s how I use these bins, including the thinking behind them:

The Audio Bin

Generally, nothing goes in the top-level Audio folder. Everything should be sorted into the appropriate subfolder: Music, SFX (Sound Effects) or VO (Voice Over).

The Edits Bin

Sometimes labeled as “Sequences” by my coworkers, this bin should have the most current version of the project directly inside. Previous/outdated versions should be put in the Archive folder for reference if needed, but out of the way of the current version so that there’s no confusion if another editor has to pick up the project.

The Selects bin is for timelines containing your top picks from the footage, organized by B-Roll, Interview (organized by interviewee, question/topic or lumped into one), Scene X, Y, Z, etc.

The Footage Bin

All project footage goes into here. If I have to sync audio and make merged clips, I typically make a Raw bin and a Merged bin within the Footage bin. Otherwise, I just break up by card, reel, day, subject – whatever makes the most sense for the project.

The GFX Bin

This bin is used for assets that aren’t based on footage and are generally computer generated: titles, adjustment layers, logos, lower thirds, motion graphics, etc.

The VFX Bin

This bin is used for assets that are based on footage, but aren’t raw footage themselves. An example would be a keyed and rendered green screen shot, a shot that’s had matte painting or wire-removal, etc. I also use this bin for things like film grain (Cinegrain, Gorilla Grain, et al.), lens flares, light leaks, etc.

All I have to do to keep my project organized is drag to the right bin when I import my assets. Super simple. That structure covers the major things that I encounter in most projects, and I can add bins when I hit something new. Below is an example of how I’ve used these bins in a project. Click image for larger view.


Organization should be a basic skill for any video editor. That said, I know a lot of editors just aren’t organized, no matter how much they want to be. It’s often due to laziness (they don’t want to take the time to make bins) or having such a tight deadline they don’t keep things organized during the video editing process.

The best way to combat this tendency (whether you have that tendency, or a coworker or employee has it), is to take the majority of the work of out organizing your project. A blank project with these bins already in it is a great thing to keep handy. Just duplicate the project file for every new project and you’re all set up. All you have to do is watch where you drag.

Quick Tip: If you’re working in a multi-editor office, take a screenshot of the bin organization structure and distribute it to every editor. Laminate it and post it up at every video editing station so that each editor will use the same structure throughout their edit.

As a little time saver and incentive to keep you and your fellow editors sane, you can download a Premiere Pro CC project below with this bin structure already set up. As an added bonus, it comes set up with one of my favorite Premiere Layouts that I’ve worked up (assuming you have Premiere set to import workspaces). Happy editing!

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  • dds

    Can you make one for cs6?

    • Aaron Williams

      I actually don’t have CS6 handy, but all you have to do is create a new project in CS6, create the bins like the first screenshot above shows, delete any sequences in the project if you want to start with a clean slate, then save. That’s literally all I did for the template project provided above. Hope that works for you!

  • Jonathan Paula

    Seems like this should be a no-brainer, but a great post just the same.

    You didn’t ask, but I thought I’d share my work-bin layout (which are tailored to specific show, in this instance) — http://imgur.com/6It7j1S

    Definitely some similarities here, for sure. Thanks for the post.

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  • pressF1

    This would work best coupled with a standardized system for organizing and filing the assets themselves on a storage drive … yes/no? Have you made a blog post that explains your method for structuring your drive? (The bins and whatnot are just pointers to the actual files, right? So maybe you could suggest a way to structure the file storage.)

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