After a successful release of BarryClegg.com last week (over 120 unique visitors in the first day, now, only 5 billion more and I’ll be on par with Google) I am now motivated more than ever to keep this site fresh and informative to any and all who visit. One of my initial goals of this site is to be a source of information and education about all things production. Seeing as my expertise comes from post, I figured why not have a weekly tip? It should be quick, easy, and beneficial the next time you sit down to make your magic in your editing suite.
Sometimes I feel like I could write a book on all the editing tips I have both received and given over my tenure as an editor. They come from all over; my colleagues, watching TV, user groups and dumb luck.
Today’s tip is really more advice than anything, and that is to be organized. This only applies to your edit session, not your whole life. For example, here is a picture of the corner of my room right now. As you can see, it is NOT organized (the fan seems really out of place, right?)
When it comes to your edit session, being organized is one of the most important things you can be. In today’s world of tight turnarounds, being FAST can sometimes be better than being GOOD. Luckily I am fast AND good, as well as being humble…basically the triple threat. In all seriousness, one of the things I pride myself on is being a fast editor, and the main reason I can be fast is because I am organized, and you should be too. Here is a quick tip to being organized.
Naming Conventions – Naming conventions is the quickest, easiest way to stay organized. It will help you with version control. It will help you find clips. It will help you when in a collaborative environment, e.g. multiple editors on one project or sharing with animators. The best part of this tip is the only requirement is to have a working knowledge of the English language (or Spanish if you are in Spain…or French if you are in France…etc.) Want to know if your naming conventions are working? If the answers to these two questions are always “yes,” then they are working. “Do I know exactly what is in this clip/file/document without having to view it?” and “If someone else works on this, will they know exactly what is in this clip/file/document without having to view it?” If you ever have something that says “Untitled Sequence.01” I better be able to delete it and not get fired.
For sequences I always try to follow this: Client_VideoName_Version# Example: SmithCo_SpringSizzleReel_v4. Depending on where you are working naming conventions may change, but this simple formula should work for most. If you are mastering to full resolution QTs are similar, I suggest something more robust that is more aimed at an archiving system. Client_VideoName_Date_Format_Initials Example SmithCo_SpringSizzleReel_030112_BC. Use whatever works for your workflow. If you are working on spots you should include the ISCI code as well. GEICO_CaveManFootball_ISCI021012H_BC
For clips I always try and follow this: Shot Description_Focal Length_Take# Example Host Dolly Left_MED_T1 or Host Dolly Right_CU_T2. I use WS (wide shot) MED (medium shot) MCU (medium close up) CU (close up) and XCU (extreme close up.) Now, I know those probably aren’t the official film school terms for focal lengths, but I have found that for any given shoot I can divide up the takes into some of those categories and then be able to go back and figure out where the other takes are. If I am working with a clip that has a WS on it, I know that the one I logged with MED is a closer focal length. Not the most scientific system, but it sure does work.
When it comes to naming conventions for clips, the advent of file based acquisition has thrown a wrench into the works. Case in point, Avid AMA bin with files from P2 camera.
Files are ready to edit instantaneously, but nothing has been logged. There are systems out there for on-site and in camera logging, but I suggest doing anything to avoid loading clip after clip to find the shot you need. Might be a good habit to logging clips as you go when dealing with file based workflows. If you are lucky enough, get an assistant editor.
In closing, remember, the more time you spend looking around and figuring out what is what is time you are taking away from storytelling and creativity…and cleaning your room. Trust me, your colleagues and mother with give you the thumbs up.