Organizing Your Media

How to create and maintain an organizational structure to make post-production run smoothly.


When you’re ready to put together the footage you’ve captured into an edit, it can be difficult to know where to start. Hours upon hours and terabytes upon terabytes of footage and other assets certainly are overwhelming. Creating and maintaining an organizational structure before you even open an editing project will save you time and heartache as you move further along in the post-production process.

Warren Miller cinematographer Tom Day gets the action in Valdez. Court Leve photo.  

To begin, give all of the materials associated with your edit a place in subfolders within a main project folder on your hard-drive. Depending on your specific needs and content, this can look any number of ways, but a few of the main folders to include are:

1. PROJECT FILES – No matter what editing platform you use, you’ll have at least one project file (and probably subsequent ones when they start crashing). Keep them all organized in one place.

2. ASSETS – This includes everything you’ve captured or acquired for your edit from video footage to audio files to still images for time lapses. Within your Assets folder, create a subfolder for FOOTAGE and employ a folder structure that makes sense to you. Did you film something that’s dependent on a timeline with multiple cameras? Breaking your footage out by day folders and then camera type within each day may work best (for example, within your Day 1 folder you may have a folder for your “A” Camera, one for Drone shots and one for POV). Did you shoot a bunch of action over the entire season with different subjects? Then it might work better to create a footage folder for each subject. No matter how you organize your folders, it’s a good rule of thumb to keep each card in its own separate folder and not alter the original file names. When you import your media into an editing project, you’ll have a leg up on organization by maintaining these folders – whether you prefer to work in bins or lay everything out into sequences.

3. MUSIC – Keep all of your music files here. Don’t forget to move a track from your downloads folder or off an external hard-drive. If you end up taking your project to a different computer, you don’t want to find yourself missing any media.

4. EXPORTS – This is where you’ll send the exports you create of your edits. Label them with versions and keywords on format (ie. Ski Edit v1, Ski Edit v2, Ski Edit Final FullRes, Ski Edit Final YouTube, etc).

Everything you create or use for your edit will go into one of these folders and makes your project mobile, transferrable and easy to back-up. Your folder structure and nomenclature may look different and contain other aspects (graphics, sound effects, etc), but the most important aspect here is to develop a system that works for you and stay consistent with it.

Want to learn more? Sign up for classes with the AIM U Adventure Film School.