Is your camera full of holiday footage? Are your GoPro camera cards stuck in a drawer? Are your Travel Videos on a Hard Drive and in the back of the cupboard, or left on the shelf? Organising your videos ready to edit one of those things you’re always going to do ‘some time’. With so many of us stuck inside and looking for things to do, this is the perfect time to get it done.

Basic Steps to Video Editing – Part 1

How to organise your videos for editing

Is your camera full of holiday footage? Are your GoPro camera cards stuck in a drawer? Are your Travel Videos on a Hard Drive and in the back of the cupboard, or left on the shelf?

It can be daunting getting your videos and photos together and editing them, and if you’re not sure where to start well, generally you don’t! All those videos and photos end up left on your computer, on a hard drive or in a cupboard, never to be seen again. It’s one of those things you’re always saying you’re going to do ‘some time’.

Well folks, the middle of the current Covid-19 restrictions this IS that ‘some time’. Dig those photos and videos out! We’re going to let you in on some of our best tips for easily organising your photo and video memories ready to edit into your best home videos yet!

Get Ready to edit your travel and home videos with these simple tips.

Ok I won’t lie, this isn’t the most exciting part of video editing, but it is step one in the video editing process. Taking time to get your workflow prep done properly will mean that you won’t get interrupted by technical issues, lost clips, confusing folder names and other irritating things that will stop you in your tracks just when you get to the fun, creative part of your video editing.

Gather Your Content

Ok, so let’s start with the basics. The very first thing you’ll need to do is to gather all the content in the same place. Grab those cameras, cards or hard drives and take them to your computer-desk, then create a folder for your trip. It might be called ‘Home Movies’ or ‘Travel Videos’, just keep it simple and obvious.

Got tonnes of footage and photos? Then we’d suggest creating the folders by year, so 2020 Travel Videos, 2019 Travel Videos etc. That way they will stack nicely in order.

This is the KonMari of video editing – group everything by kind, and put it all in the same place.

That way if you’ve made duplicate copies of your files, you’ll be able to see this easily. You’ll also be able to back up all your Travel videos from 2020 in one go, onto external hard drive/s (and of course label it clearly).

Inside each of these main folders, you can arrange by trip and date, so for example 2020-02 Europe Trip, and 2016-08 Thailand. Again, having the date listed as YY-MM-DD will stack them in order of the trips.

Inside these sub-folders, you’ll add all the videos and photos from that particular trip.

Don’t Change the Clip Names

At this point, it may be tempting to change the clip names into something more descriptive than GOPR108 but please, don’t do it!! The clip numbering is useful for several reasons.

First and most obviously, keeping the original clip numbers will make all your footage sort by time and date, so all your trip footage will neatly stack up in the order you shot it. This is a great help when you have videos and photos from multiple locations.

Second, there is metadata in your clips which the names identify. This data is important when you begin editing, so your software can easily find and load the clips. Keeping the original clip names is the best way to help your editing software ‘find’ the right clips quickly and easily.

Thirdly, changing clip names leads to major dramas if you want to colour grade your footage in a different program. Renamed clips can create all sorts of problems when pushing footage between different software apps.

If you have a lot of video or photos from different trips, you might find some clips have the same numbers or clip name. Don’t worry about this, simply put them into different folders with the trip names/locations/dates. This will make it nice and clear which clip you should be linking to.

Notice I didn’t say ‘never change your clip names’. In more advanced editing situations, or when working with tonnes of footage it’s sometimes necessary to rename the clips to add tape names or bin names. That’s a topic for a more advanced post and shouldn’t be needed for beginners, but if you do need to add tape or bin names, keep it consistent and always keep the original file name at the end of the title string.

It doesn’t matter if your filing method is slightly different than this, as long as you keep it consistent and orderly. You should end up with something like this:

Organising your files in this way isn’t just so you can easily see where your files are, it’s actually about your software. Video and photo software wants to find an organised file structure, and it will go looking in that structure for something it can recognise. The more orderly your files are, the easier the software will find the clips you want, and the faster it will work for you.

In general, unless you have a pro or semi-pro video and photo editing setup, you’re going to want to put these on your computer drive (not an external drive) to edit but there’s an important step to take before you do that.

Back it up!

Always, always make a full backup of all your content before you even think about starting to edit. That way if you accidentally delete or change something, you always have a clean, untouched version on an external drive.

Some people might start out with the backup, and copy everything to a hard drive before they start this organising, and that’s not a bad idea (especially if you are prone to deleting things by accident!).

Personally I like to do the ordering first. That way when I make my backup all this is done, so if I accidentally wipe something I can find the missing files easily, or grab everything an re-copy without having to do all this organisation over again. Let’s face it, who wants to spend more time on the boring bits!

If you want more info on video file organisation, here’s a nice article on naming conventions.

Now you’ve got all your clips organised you’re ready to start creating your video editing project, so let’s get into it!

Continuing this series, Basic Steps to Video Editing, we’ll follow up soon with a post on how to set up your video editing project.

To summarise our key tips,

  1. Create a single location for all similar footage, so one folder for all your Travel videos.
  2. Organise the sub-folders by date, using YYMMDD so that they will sort in order.
  3. Separate different cameras and photos into different sub-folders.
  4. Don’t rename the actual clips, always name the folders they’re in.
  5. Back it all up before you start editing.

Thalia is the lead editor at Sonic Eye video and sound editing in Sydney, Australia