“If you have time to lean, you have time to clean,” screamed my former fast food manager. These were the kind words that I heard time and time again during my college days. Those dark days of grease showers, fry basket burns, and inconsiderate creatures known to you as customers, are long behind me. However, those words have resonated, and crept into my editing practices. These words – good. Fry basket burns –bad. You get the picture.
However, now that I am a working editor, I’ve twisted these words into a fashion so that they apply to my workflow. This in turn, flows into final delivery, as you can be pleased to know that your client is receiving a product in which you’re proud of not only the content, but also the journey you took into shaping that content.
The new phrase that I’ve recycled out of those wise words you ask?
Here you go: “ If you have time to clean, then you won’t die.”
Yes, these words are a tad extreme. Especially that last part. I came up with that myself. I hope this phrase sticks, as it has helped me immensely in my projects. As you’re diving deep into the world of editing head first, you want to make sure you save yourself stress and editor’s rage (real thing) by keeping your project clean in the first place. This process will take a little bit of time in the beginning, even before you edit, but oh my, you will thank yourself, and most importantly me because you heeded my heavenly advice.
The first stage of this process begins on ingest. Ingest, for those who are unaware, is the transferring or ingesting of the raw footage that you captured onto your editing hard drive. I also recommend having a backup drive so that you’re safe when you’re editing suite becomes the target of a nuclear test site, and your footage is its primary target. Again, you’ll thank me later. It starts with the file structure that you have setup on your Finder (for awesome Mac users) or Windows Explorer (no comment).
You want to carry this same organization into your editing system. If you’re still cutting on film, well…let me know. I want to get my hands on that sweet nectar from the film gods. In your editing system you’ll add more bins (Premiere Pro) or events (FCPX), as you accumulate more sequences, merged clips, and subclips. As long as you have your footage, audio, project, and exported files organized then you’ll be a happy camper.
There are a few reasons that this is incredibly important:
1) You won’t strain your eyes as you peer through your endless bins and folders searching for that one clip of your 1st birthday party, when it turns out you accidentally deleted it. You also might go blind from this, because you’ll look too closely at your computer, and your pupils will be fried.
2) You’ll have more time to edit as your deadline approaches, because you know exactly where all of your clips are just by looking at the folder names.
3) If you hand off your project to another editor, or they have to finish off a project because you got called up to work on the new Transformers movie (do this at your own risk, and I will judge you), then they will be able to look at your work and get started within a few minutes. They also won’t want to kill you. This will literally save your life. Again, you’re welcome. The general rule of thumb is that the next editor should be able to figure out the location of all of your files in your project within 5-20 minutes.
4) If you have a client or your boss looking over your shoulder as you edit, then you won’t look like such a putz as you try to find a simple graphic. Please don’t be that guy. You really don’t want to be that guy.
These are some general guidelines that will help any editor take the first steps in organizing their projects. The real first step here is realizing you have a problem. That problem being your lack of organization is ruining your life. These tips will make your life better.
In a future post I will tackle timeline organization when you’re dealing with both simple and complex projects. In the meantime, if you have any questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’d be more than happy to lend a helping hand!
Until next time readers, keep on trendering.
Author: Kyle Harter
Kyle Harter recently relocated to Philadelphia after receiving his BA in Film from the University of Central Florida. Kyle aspires to a career of filmmaking, writing, and adventure. Kyle has a mild obsession with Quentin Tarantino, coffee, and Corgis. He co-authors the film blog, The Main Squeeze.