What’s on the menu today? Tacos and Folder Structures! What, who doesn’t like tacos?
Much like a taco, folders for editors are filled with juicy bits of media that we dish out to create delicious videos for everyone to enjoy. Having a solid folder structure to organize your media before pulling it into an NLE is an easy step to becoming a more organized, faster editor.
What’s the secret filling?
Really, there’s no secret to this. The main goal of a standardized folder structure allows you to be better organized and faster by consistently knowing where media is stored from project to project. Yes, one project may vary slightly from another, but the overarching outline of this folder structure should cover the majority of your bases. Additional folders can be added as necessary. To be clear, I’m not saying what I use is the perfect structure for everyone. It isn’t a bad place to start though.
Dissecting a Folder Structure
To build a decent folder structure for video editing, it’s important to think about the assets your projects generally need. From the start, footage, audio, and project files are a given. I do a lot of work with ad agencies and also pass conform files back and forth to colorists, so a documents folder is handy. I also regularly jump into After Effects to either composite or crank out mograph work, so a graphics folder is also a must on my end. Speaking of ends, at the end of the project your exports also need a place to live.
So just thinking about basic project workflow yields the main folders of our structure:
To some degree, each of the main folders above are further broken down into subfolders based on the types of assets I generally work with.
Ye Olde zOLD
My personal favorite folder (which is strange thing to say) is zOLD. I use it as a redundant in-project archive and the “z” in front of “OLD” simply sends that folder to the bottom of the screen when my project folder is sorted alphabetically.
Every day I duplicate my Premiere project file, move the old project file into the “zOLD” folder, rename the newly copied project file with today’s date, and start editing in that project. By doing this I build a backup of my project that adds a layer of protection from corrupt projects or accidental deletion.
This simple workflow hack is especially helpful when multiple editors share a project. Besides changing the date, each time a different editor duplicates and opens the project, they add their initials to the end of the filename which provides a simple log of who touched the project last. Example:
Deploying the Folder Structure
With a solid structure in place, what’s the best way to set it in motion from project to project? I tend to keep the structure as an easy to find template that I can duplicate an rename for each new project. I also keep a backup of the structure in another location in case I accidentally change it.
Alternatively, Digital Rebellion has a sweet little app for Mac and PC called Post Haste that allows you to build and deploy multiple templated folder structures as needed. School of Motion did a great write up about the app.
What’s important about folder structures is not that you use the one I’ve built for my workflow. What’s important is that you create a structure that perfectly suits your needs that allows you to standardize how you work. If you’re on a team that is a must for project collaboration. And besides making your life easier, if you ever work with vendors they’ll love you even more for how organized you are.