I cannot emphasize enough the importance of managing your media.  This is something that I’ve always put mega importance on.  Is it fun?  No.  Do you feel like a true creative genius while doing it?  No.  But to be a quality editor you have to be both creative and OCD.   I found it crazy when talking to a young editor the other day who not only didn’t put any importance on managing media, but also had no idea how to do it!  If you are not a responsible media manager, it is only a matter of time before a drive fails and all your hard work is gone, leaving you to start over from scratch.

In PART 1 I’ll discuss our tape-based workflow, in PART 2 we’ll discuss a tapeless workflow and in PART 3 we’ll discuss consolidating media for long-term storage.

Put on your OCD hat, here we go!

Unfortunately, managing your media starts in the camera.  For those of you who don’t shoot the stuff you edit, this part of the process is somewhat out of your hands.  However, if you do shoot your own stuff, you can follow these guidelines.  Even if you don’t shoot your own stuff, you can pass these guidelines onto your project’s shooter.

It is very important, especially if you are working on a multi-camera shoot, to organize your tapes.  What we do is the following:

1.)   On our first tape of the day, we set our Timecode to 01:00:00:00, then each subsequent tape gets hour 2 timecode, then hour 3 timecode, etc.2.)   If it is a multi-camera shoot, all the tapes we shoot our first get hour 1 timecode, all the second tapes get hour 2, etc.  We just label each tape with a unique tape name.  For example, DATE_CAMA_001, DATE_CAMB_001, DATE_CAMC_001.  Then all the second hour tapes are named with a  “_002,” third hour tapes are labeled with a “ _003,” etc.3.)   So at the end of the day we are left with a stack of tapes that looks like this:

  1. 020212_CAMA_001 – HOUR 1 TC
  2. 020212_CAMA_002 – HOUR 2 TC
  3. 020212_CAMA_003 – HOUR 3 TC
  4. 020212_CAMB_001 – HOUR 1 TC
  5. 020212_CAMB_002 – HOUR 2 TC
  6. 020212_CAMB_003 – HOUR 3 TC
  7. 020212_CAMC_001 – HOUR 1 TC
  8. 020212_CAMC_002 – HOUR 2 TC
  9. 020212_CAMC_003 – HOUR 3 TC

Even if you are shooting something like an interview, where all your cameras need to have their TC in sync, you can still use this method.  Just set your MASTER TC camera to FREE RUN TC and sync the MASTER TC to your other cameras using an RCA cable.  Now all your cameras will have the same TC (within a frame or two).  Then all you have to do is follow the TC guidelines above.

NOTE: This is our workflow using PANASONIC cameras.  If you are using different cameras then you may need some sort of TC Sync Generator.

In the edit…

Now you have a stack of tapes.  You’ve already done a lot of work to make sure your tapes are all labeled correctly and have the proper TC on them.  So now, please, please, please don’t ignore all this work.  When digitizing your footage you must, must, must make sure that the tape name you are logging matches the tape you are capturing from.

Back in the day, I knew editors that would just give a tape any old name, a name like “abaadlkjalkdjf” for example.  The idea was, the tape name doesn’t matter; I just need to digitize this stuff so I can start working.   But, what if your drive dies and you lose all your captured footage?  Do you have to re-log all of your footage and start over?  Not if you were diligent in naming your tapes when capturing!

All you have to do is open your project, highlight all the clips that are offline and Batch Capture the files.  Your editing software, whether it be AVID or Final Cut Pro, will ask you to load a specific tape into your deck and once you do that, it will recapture all the media from that tape.  Now, you’ve gone from a “start over” scenario to a slight delay in your editing schedule scenario.  Once everything has been captured, you can start working again as if nothing went wrong.  All the footage in your edited sequences will be there exactly how you left it.  Amazing!  And it is all because you were a genius media manager from the beginning!

One key to this workflow is to make sure you do not have your project file on the same drive as your captured media because if one drive dies that has everything on it, then you are out of luck.  There will be no way to re-log your lost clips because you won’t have a project file to open!   What we recommend is having your project file live on your computer’s hard drive and then have your footage live on an external hard drive.  We use and love our G-Tech ES PRO eSata external drives.  With our setup, if the drive dies, we still have our project file to open and we can easily re-capture all our media.

I hope you see how important it is to be part creative genius and part neurotic organizer when it comes to editing.  If you don’t now, you will when you have a drive die and you have to start a project over!

Next time we’ll look at tapeless workflow and then finish it off with what to do with a project it’s done… storage space doesn’t grow on trees you know!