While post-production workflows can vary drastically from project to project, maintaining consistency during the initial setup stage will save you time, stress and help you and your editors get to work faster. As with most things in life, organization is key. In the edit, it's essential. Whether it's our in-house editing team or a freelancer pulled in for a specific project, everyone sets up and uses the same process across the board. Through our many years of experience, trial and error, this is what we've found to be the most effective system:
To start, create a folder file structure that will mirror the bin structure in your Premiere Pro Project. This will make it easy to stay organized and keep track of all your media as your project grows and changes during the editing process. We keep this file structure in a folder on our company Dropbox so that we can access it no matter where we are or what system we are on.
01_Pr Projects (Project files, auto saves, previews etc.)
02_Media (Footage, proxies, audio etc.)
03_Photos (Pictures from anywhere)
04_GFX (Premade motion & still graphics, branding etc.)
05_SFX (Sound effects)
06_VFX (In app vfx ie. Render & replace, nests, screengrabs etc.)
07_Titles (Prebuilt titles from Photoshop or elsewhere)
08_Music (Needle drop, licensed, royalty free etc.)
09_Ae Projects (After Effects projects / dynamic links etc.)
10_Exports (Roughs cuts, Fine cuts, Masters etc.)
11_Documents (Only used in Dropbox)
You may not need to use every folder for every job and that's ok. It's not uncommon if a folder or two remains empty for the entire post-production process but having the folders there for when you need them will ensure parity across all projects going forward. The last folder, 11_Documents is the only folder in the file structure that is not mirrored in the Premiere Pro project. It generally holds any scripts, notes taken during filming as well as transcriptions, client revisions, and any other relevant documents to be referenced during the edit.
Once you've created the file structure, you need to do the same thing in Premiere Pro. Start a new project and create bins from 01 - 10 mirroring the file structure. For the edit, you can change the first folder to 01_Sequences rather than 01_Pr Projects. Remember to import any of the stock sfx, music, branding & gfx etc. into the appropriate folders in the project as well. Now that the project is organized save it to the 01_Pr Projects folder in the file structure.
That's it, you're ready to begin. Anytime you start a new post-production job simply copy the entire file structure folder to your local or external drive, copy your footage and any other relevant media to the appropriate folder and rename the project. Now you can import all your raw and transcoded media as you normally would.
Having a unified post production workflow will not only keep everything organized the same from project to project but it will also make it easier for another editor, producer or client to find everything should you need to hand it off.
Reach out with any questions or share with us your preferred organization setup in the edit!