Bad Editing Habits To Give Up This Year

Post Production 04/01/2019 4 min read

We get it, you are a busy editor. You’ve just been handed 3 hours of raw footage broken into random takes and not properly logged. And you have to have a rough cut tomorrow!

Naturally, this is when bad habits kick in. In a rush to get everything done, you may overlook some important steps in the process that will only lead to headaches later. Do yourself a favor and change these habits now. They’ll save you a lot of time in the long run, and once you change your habits, they’ll become second nature.

Set Yourself Straight

It all starts here. If you don’t have a good project folder structure, you are just setting yourself up for lost assets and tons of lost time scouring through random folders.

It’s best to set up an entire folder structure for your projects that works for you. The type of setup you choose is completely up to you, but build a structure that is easy for you to navigate and be consistent about setting up your folders for every new project.

Pro Tip: To save extra time, create a set of empty folders as a template. Whenever you are ready to start a new project, simply copy and paste those empty folders into your new project folder.

If you need a little help getting started, take a look at GYST by Justin McClure. You can download a preset folder structure and get advice on file naming. Use this as a starting point and adjust it to your needs.

Log Jam

Once you have a good project structure, you can jump into your project. It is tempting to start editing right away, but spend a little time to make sure everything is logged properly. Sometimes you are lucky enough to have well-logged footage, or maybe you shot and logged it yourself.

But quite often, the footage isn’t clearly labeled or labeled at all. What may start as a simple edit of a few takes, can quickly turn into a huge problem with cuts and sub-clips. Log everything with clear labels that will be easy for you to navigate when looking for clips.

Pro Tip: Consider if someone else was to open your project and work with it. Log your clips in such a way that it would be easy for them to jump right in. After all, this does happen sometimes.

Keep A Clean House

Logging clips is a great way to start your project off. But sometimes other aspects of the project get messy along the way. After all, edits aren’t just made up of clips. You will often have photos, audio clips, graphic elements, and multiple sequences.

Set up a folder structure for your assets inside of the project just like you did on your hard drive. When importing assets, place them in the proper folders, and give everything a name that’s easy to recognize. This will make it super easy to find that element you need in a hurry.

Pro Tip: Many editing applications allow you to color code assets. Doing so will make it even easier to figure out what you are working with. For example, you might try color-coding clips from different scenes or different camera angles to quickly sort takes.

Don’t Lose It

You haven’t learned the most valuable lessons until you’ve spent hours on a project without saving, only to have your computer crash, causing you to lose everything.

Modern software developers have put in a lot of safeguards to help here, like auto-saves on crashes. But they are not full-proof. When you create a new project, always make it a habit to save the project before you start editing. Within the software preferences, turn on autosave at an increment that works for you. We recommend every 10 to 15 minutes, so you’ll never lose too much work.

Pro Tip: Learn the shortcut for saving, often Cmd+S on Mac or Ctrl+S on Windows, and get in the habit of hitting those hotkeys without even thinking about it. This way, you’ll be saving more often and decreasing any chance of lost work.

But don’t stop there. In rare instances, a project file may become corrupt and unretrievable. Again, some software will auto-save incremental versions. But make another habit of doing a “save as” from time to time and giving the project a unique name so that you have multiple versions to pull from as needed. This also comes in handy if you need to revert to an old edit that you were working on.

Lastly, none of this will do you any good if you have a hard drive failure. So, always backup your work, and do it often. There are a number of methods for this practice, and we recommend doing as many as you can. Redundancy isn’t a bad word when talking about file backups.

Have an external hard drive system where you can copy versions of your work. Preferably, use a backup system that includes a RAID array, in case one of the backup drives fails.

And then add in an off-site storage option like Dropbox or Google Drive where files can live in the cloud for extra safety.

Pro Tip: If you have enough internet bandwidth, consider building your project files structures within your Dropbox or Google Drive folder on your machine. This way, files will constantly be backed up without any extra effort from you.

These are all really simple habits to put into place. And you probably incorporate many of them already. But remember, failing to follow through on these will eventually put you in a pinch and slow you down. So, if you have any of these bad habits, now’s the time to give them up and get organized. Then you can focus on the important stuff like creating a great video.

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