5 Tips On How to Stay Organized As A Videographer
You're in a rush to meet a tight deadline and the client is asking for a minor revision before you send the final file over. You get to the export screen and have to name the output file. Does labeling it "Interview-7-Project-2-Final-v5" and saving it to your cluttered desktop sound familiar? I'm guilty as ever with doing this.
When I first started editing videos in college, I had no idea how to properly label my files and folders, and my computer and hard drives were a complete mess. There aren't any classes that directly teach you the importance of this, and if I had to go back and look for a file from 2014 and before, I'd seriously have trouble. After realizing that I needed to have a better structure to keep track of all my work, I've become a much more efficient and organized videographer. If I had known these strategies a little earlier in my career, it would have saved many hours of work and stress, so I hope that sharing these tips can help organize your workflow and make the tedious side of the job more efficient and manageable!
1. Always organize files and timelines like you have to hand them off to someone else to work on
I strongly suggest that you label every single file that you work with on your hard drive before you even bring them inside your editing program. It is good practice to do this in case you ever need to search for a file again in the future, and it's just basic best practice for being able to keep track of your footage. It's much easier to find a file that you renamed "Cleveland_Bakery_Interview_CamA_03", rather than how the file comes out of the camera as "C0064".
After you offload your files into the correct folders after a production, highlight all the files in order, right-click and select "Rename", then title them something specific to that project. It will create a sequential order for all the files in that folder, which is a good start to being able to keep track of them. It's a little bit of work upfront, but you will thank yourself later, along with anyone else that ever has to open up and work on your project.
After realizing that I needed to have a better structure to keep track of all my work, I become a much more efficient and organized videographer.
2. Back up all of your files with Backblaze
Everyone has their share of horror stories with losing files. There is pretty much no worse feeling in the world. I can't stress enough, make sure you always offload your footage right after you are done shooting to prevent any accidents. After I shoot a wedding, I won't go to bed until every file is pulled from every card I used that night. Then after offloading, I always back up all of the files. I can then go to sleep in peace!
There is a web service that I wholeheartedly recommend called Backblaze that lets you back up and store all of your hard drives in the cloud, all for only $60/year. That is a very inexpensive and great value for such a service that is very costly almost everywhere else. The only catch is that they make sure you continually back up your drives by placing a 30-day countdown to back up again, or else they delete all your files. I look at this as a good motivator to always make sure your files are safely stored in different locations, even if it can be inconvenient to have a countdown against you.
always make sure your files are safely stored in different locations
And if you want to have a second back up for all of your files, which is a great idea, I would also highly recommend getting a Direct Attached Storage (DAS) enclosure like a Drobo or a G-RAID for a second back up solution. I also personally invested in one of these, and it gives me major peace of mind knowing I have complete backups of all my files both locally and in the cloud. Trust me, it's worth it.
3. Use Post Haste for your project's folder structure
Along with labeling all of your files, you should also have a strong folder structure system to put all of the files into. Post Haste is a free app on the Mac for creating folder structures for your video projects. With the click of a button, you get a directory created for your project files, footage, audio, sequences, assets, and exports, ready for you to organize all your files in. You can also customize multiple file directories to have them handy for other project and software folder layouts, like After Effects. It's a very convenient app for being able to quickly repeat folder creation so you don't have to do it manually every time. Once you start using it, you won't look back.
4. Label gear and SD cards with a label printer
Having everything labeled makes it easier to keep track of your specific gear
I know this one may sound a little extreme, but I find it to be a really good idea to label your video gear if you transport it around frequently. In the middle of shoots, everything seems to get misplaced, from lens caps to batteries to SD card cases to cables. Having everything labeled makes it easier to keep track of your specific gear, especially if working alongside rented or other filmmaker's gear. And numerically labeling your SD cards helps give you a nice reference for which footage is on which card. If you start your day using SD card #1, once it fills up, you know to move onto card #2 and not touch card #1 until offloading the footage. It eliminates confusion about which clips are on each specific SD card.
5. Use Adobe Libraries to quickly access commonly used design assets
If you have a client that has branded assets that you use often, like lower thirds, full-screen graphics, or other branded design elements, then it's a solid idea to have them readily available and organized to access. This will save you so much effort when having to search for them every time, as well as prevent having to recreate any graphics that you already made once. Unfortunately, Adobe doesn't allow video files inside of Libraries, and I know this is supposed to be useful tips for videographers, but it's still a really useful service to have around for consistency when working on graphics for the same clients over and over again inside of After Effects, Illustrator, and Photoshop.
Incorporating these strategies into your workflow will help streamline certain repeatable tasks that may take up more time than you think, and even get you out of a bad situation concerning a lost or deleted file. While I know these tips aren't groundbreaking, trust me, they work well no matter how organized you think you may or may not be. There is even the potential chance of these traits spilling over into making you a more structured person in general!
Reach out and let me know if you have any other useful strategies on how to stay organized at firstname.lastname@example.org, and thanks for reading!
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