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March 4, 2013
TutorialsVideo Editing

Video Editing Quick Tip: File & Folder Organization

Keep your sanity and work more efficiently.  Use a dedicated file and folder organization system in your video editing.

I recently stumbled across a Reddit post asking for help in ‘keeping files organized while editing’.  It’s an important request.

Video Editing File ManagementOrganization is a common pain point among video editors.  Maybe its that most editors are creative right-brained leaning types, and they inherently have trouble keeping their files efficiently organized.   Add to that the fact that Editors are usually working under intense time constraints.  It’s easy to get files misplaced, especially when media surfaces at different stages of the editing process.

Good media management, file structure, versioning and a dedicated organization system is imperative to editing successfully.  Files that are saved to the wrong location can go missing, costing you time trying to pinpoint them…or worse, they get deleted.

For tips on file naming check out my previous post: File Naming for Video Editors, Designers and Photographers.

In this post, we’re going to look at creating a video editing folder structure – having set places to store your files.  Let’s jump in…

File Organization and Video Editing

Getting back to the Reddit post…some good suggestions were shared for folder naming and organzation and I wanted to share them here.

Post HasteOne user suggested Post Haste, an application created by Digital Rebellion that we’ve mentioned on the blog before.  Post Haste automates the process of setting up folders on your computer for different workflows (photography, video editing, design, etc).   Run Post Haste at the start of a project and you’ll have all the folders you need for the project’s duration.  It’s a free media management tool, so its definitely worth downloading it and testing it out in your workflow.

Other Reddit users shared their own folder structures:

  • Footage (with subfolders for specific shoot dates if necessary)
  • Edits (put the timelines there)
  • Graphics
  • Audio
  • Images
This particular structure is pretty standard for editing, but I’d imagine it’s best used to organize your media within your video editing application, not on your media drive.  If you set this up at the start of every project it’ll be easier to organize your media as you bring it into the app through post production.  If you’re looking for a folder structure for your hard drive, I liked this one:
  • 00_Projects
  • 01_MEDIA
  • 02_AUDIO
  • 03_GFX
  • 04_SFX
  • 05_MUSIC
  • 06_OUTPUTS
  • 07_DOCS

Create a main folder for every new project and then dump this folder structure into it.   This simple list covers the broad file types that will be associated with most video editing projects (don’t forget the Documents folder, an important inclusion).   The numerical prefixes help to keep the folders in order.

Ultimately, the best folder structure is the one that works best for you.  Once you find one that works for your needs, BE CONSISTENT.

It’s easy to get lazy with file organization when you’re in a video editing session and under pressure – saving files to your Desktop with obscure file names.  If you work this way, which is of course inadvisable, ALWAYS clean off your Desktop and Downloads folder at the end of the session day.  Move the files into their appropriate organized folder and then go back and relink them in your video editing app. You’ll end up thanking yourself that you took the time.

We want to know, what file and folder structure do you use for your video editing work?  What tips can you share for being a more organized video editor?  Please share in the comments below! 

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  • jessekoepke

    Thanks for writing a great article! The folder structure you suggested is almost exactly like ours. The only difference is we put Media, Audio, Graphics, etc. into an Assets folder. We also keep the editing project file just in the main folder, since we usually only have one of those. Adding the numbers to keep things in order is also a great idea.

    • Michael Krupnick

      I’ve been doing this little housekeeping twist for years on FCP (classic) and Adobe Premiere and have never been burned. I’m beginning to see more people doing it now. Simply put, you make a folder on your media drive named for your specific project. A different folder for each one. Everything associated with the project goes in there; every file generated by the editing process, including renders, caches, thumbnails, imports, exports, and output files. Also the project files, which are duplicated to the system drive as backups. You must go through preferences and make sure you’ve assigned the media drive folder as the target so the app writes everything there.

      So your system drive holds only the app itself and a safety copy of the project. Being uncluttered with ancillary app-generated files makes for a neater faster sys drive. And if you need to share the project, it’s a simple matter of dragging the folder to the new target drive. And when the project is finished, just move that folder to the archive drive and your cleanup is done with one stroke.

      (reposted from MediaMatch)

      • Nicolas Putnam

        I would really like to see a more description of how to do this. Maybe with screenshots of an existing file structure and specific preference windows for FCP and AP. Always had problems reconnecting media when transferring large projects. Love this idea.

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