Organization is key. This applies to pretty much everything in life, but especially when it comes to video editing. Having well-organized files both on your computer and in your editing software will greatly improve your efficiency and workflow. Plus, when it comes to working with others on projects, you want your collaborators to be able to easily pick up where you left off without having to dig around a mess of files for clips or audio tracks. The larger and more complex your projects are, the more important this will become, but it is important to build good workflow habits, and that all starts with how you organize your files.
1. Organize Before you Edit
You always want to organize your footage on your computer before you begin the editing process. If you have already begun editing and are not willing to lose the progress you have made, DO NOT attempt to reorganize or rename your files.
Unlike many other commonly used programs, Adobe Premiere does not save your footage within the project file itself. In other words, if you were to reorganize or remove files from their current locations on your hard drive once the editing process has already begun, Premiere will lose track of where your files are located, and you will need to manually relocate each file or group of files before you can continue editing or export your video.
2. Create a Folder and Subfolders
When it comes to organizing your footage, you can never have too many folders. I always recommend having as many folders as necessary to make assets as easy as possible to locate. Start by creating a folder for your project, named whatever you would like your project to be titled. In our example below, you can see the folder titled Demo Project.
Within this folder, you will want to create subfolders for generic groups of assets that you will be using in your project. For our projects, we typically create at least the following 3 primary folders: Footage, Audio, and Exports. This project folder should also contain your Premiere Pro project file, and potentially a variety of other folders auto-generated by Premiere when you begin editing, such as Adobe Premiere Pro Auto-Save and Adobe Premiere Pro Video Previews.
Now you’re going to want to create some subfolders within these primary folders. These could be broken down in a variety of different ways depending on the type of project you’re working on and what assets you will be using. For example, if you are working on an interview-based piece with interview shots and b-roll, you will want to create subfolders within your Footage folder for Interviews and B-roll. Similarly, your Audio folder could include subfolders for Music and Interview Audio. Create as many subfolders and layers of subfolders as necessary to make a file path that is easy to follow, not only for you, but for anyone who may need to locate these files in the future.
Now you can copy/move your assets into the applicable folders and begin your editing project.
3. Create Bins in Premiere that Match Your Folders
Now that you have organized your files on your hard drive, you will want to follow the same process within your Premiere Pro project. Create bins and sub-bins for each folder and sub-folder on your computer. Import your footage directly into the appropriate bin. This will keep your organization consistent, and will allow you and any potential collaborators to easily navigate through your files, not only on your hard drive, but in Premiere as well.
Creating a consistent file labeling system and organization strategy is key to long-term success in the world of video editing. Tight deadlines are practically a staple of the editing industry, so maximizing your time is a necessity. The best and most intuitive methods of organizing assets may be different for everyone, but over time you’ll find what works best for you.