Workflows For Video Editors

In today’s post, we’re talking about video editing workflow. We’ll dive into figuring out a process that allows you to understand the project direction, the story that needs to come across in the final video, the stages of working with a client throughout the post-production process, and file organization!

What to do before you start video editing

Before starting a video edit, there are several factors that you should be thinking of to make the process run smoothly and professionally. The first is spending time to really understand the point of the video; why is it being created? What is your client trying to accomplish with this video? In most cases, this will have already been established in pre-production, so you’ll have either received notes, a script, or direction from a producer, director, or the client.

With an understanding of what the video will be about, it’s time to receive the files and start the file organization.

Organizing your video files

external hard drive plugged into a laptop

I would highly recommend always having a second hard drive dedicated as a backup. As soon as you have the files for the project, transfer a copy to the backup, and then store that backup at another location in case there’s a fire or any water issues where your main copy gets damaged.

There’s a common file folder organization process that professional video editors use and that is to have a folder with a specific name for the project, and then several subfolders for all of the various project assets, like footage, music, sound effects, overlays, images, etc.

video file folders on PCThis is very important because video editors will often pass on their project to other editors, and having a very well organized set of folders with each having their associated files inside, will allow the new editor to reconnect any project assets that may have become offline. Even if you’re the only editor, trust me, it’s always a good idea to keep an organized folder structure.

With smaller brands, or individuals who haven’t produced videos before, they are often under the impression that the client will be involved the entire time, but this isn’t the case. Typically, the client won’t be involved in the project until a rough-cut, or first-cut edit is put together. This means you will spend all of the time working without the client’s input until you’ve assembled the majority of the project. Most of the time, including a client throughout the first-cut stage isn’t what happens in a professional situation because it will drastically slow things down. It’s important to explain the process of editing to the client so that everyone is on the same page once you start.

women meeting in an office
Now that you have all of the footage organized, and the client is aware that they will be receiving the first-cut, or rough-cut in a few days, weeks, or months depending on how large the project is, you can now start compiling the project together.

This process can differ from editor to editor, but generally, it is a similar process; which is to create the same folder structure inside the editing program as what you have on the hard drive, then create an editing sequence where you can start to go through all of the footage and begin picking the best takes which is known as the ‘selects’.

Video editing tips

video editor works at monitors

Once you have chosen all of the selects for the edit, more than likely you will have extra footage than what the final video will include, and this is a good thing. Editing should be efficient, so cutting together a rough scene and not having everything perfectly timed will save you time. So start piecing together the project based on the script you were given, or the direction from a producer, Director, or the client, but don’t worry about making things perfect at this stage.

On the other side, the editing process can be very complex for larger budget projects with many people involved, such as offline editors, sound designers, visual effects artists, colorists, online editors, and so on, however for smaller budget projects, you might be the only person involved, and that’s quite common outside of feature films and commercials. If it’s a smaller budget project, you may have filmed and directed the project as well, and therefore you’ll have a clear idea for how the edit will go.

If you’re the only person in post-production, think about the music, sound effects, visual effects, and feeling that each scene would have as you’re putting together the first-cut. As the edit is being assembled, remember to back up the progression you’ve made, so that if there are any issues, you won’t have to start all over again.

A great way to speed up your editing workflow and to add a higher production value without going over budget is to include stock media content, such as stock footage, or graphics templates. Storyblocks makes it easy to find, license, and download stock media for any projects you’re working on.

What to do after editing your video

The final product will start to take shape as you continue to edit, and soon you will have the first-cut ready to be shown to the client. At this stage, send off the first-cut to the client and await their feedback. Sometimes there won’t be any feedback if your vision is aligned, and sometimes there will be some requested revisions. If there are changes, address them, and then send off the final version along with your invoice for the work. At this stage, you’ve now established and completed your first video edit with a professional workflow.

editor works at his monitor

Editing can be very time consuming depending on the project you’re working on, so expect at the very least a few hours of work. For example, our YouTube videos tend to take 10 to 40 hours each to complete on average, and for commercial, or corporate projects that we take on, about 25-80 hours to complete on average, so make sure your time is accounted for when quoting as a professional Video Editor. Otherwise, you may feel taken advantage of, and overtime may become burnt out. With proper workflows and systems put into place, video editing can be a really fun and creative profession, and is a skill that’s becoming more and more in demand as brands are incorporating video into all of their marketing campaigns.

So consider the steps mentioned here to help your video editing workflow before starting your next project to save you time, and work more professionally.

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