Mongolian Girl learns Math at the board

After six years of shooting HD video, my shelves are lined with hard drives containing the footage of many shoots from around the world.  While it is nice to know that I have access to all of this great footage, I am finding that as each year goes by, it is getting harder and harder to find the shots that I want or need.  In my mind I can picture the beautiful shots that I got in Peru or the Dominican Republic, but where are they?  What hard drive do I look on to find these?  Perhaps it is the curse of the artist to be by nature, unorganized.  So many times I have told myself that I need to get better organized but in the end it always seems to come down to a matter of time.  “Who has that kind of time?”

Recently, after the 100’th time of going through 30 drives looking for one file, I decided that the time had come to get serious about organizing.  Forget about the time it would take, I was wasting more time looking for media than I ever would in organizing it.  I began with systematically going through all of my hard drives, renaming them and creating an Excel spreadsheet of all of the file folders on each drive.  It took a day, but has already saved me hours of time.  Now, whenever I am looking for something, I simply open up my spreadsheet and do a search.
Now what to do about my footage.  What would be an easy way to create a media library that would contain an archive of all of my shots?  Some time back I began playing around with the batch export tool of Edius.  I liked what I discovered so much that I even did a tutorial, outlining my findings.

This week I have begun the process of going through all of my footage from the last six years, picking the best shots, or perhaps better put, shots that I know that I might be able to use in the future and archiving those in a way that will provide easy access in the future.

Since I was going to take so much time to do this process, I wanted to do it right.  I became very deliberate about setting up a process that would preserve and archive my footage in the most optimal way, taking advantage of all of the tools that Edius has to offer.

If you don’t get a chance to watch the tutorial series that I created about the process that I came up with, here are the key points:

1.    In the beginning, work with your shots in a Edius project that matches the camera setting in which the footage was shot.  If you shot in PAL, start the process in PAL.  If NTSC, use a NTSC Project.  Working with progressive footage shot on a DSLR? Do the first stage of processing in a Progressive project, with frame rates that match the setting of your camera.

2.    Don’t try and do any color correction or other filter effects such as sharpening during this first stage.  Simply go through the footage, looking for your best shots, setting your “in and outs” and export that to a Grass Valley HQ AVI file (Lossless if you prefer)

3.    Export these to a filing system that works for you or your broadcast station.  I have set mine up to be archived in folders containing 100 clips each.  Your end game will actually be to have two sets of folders.  One will contain these very generic, neutral avi files, in the original frame rates in which they are shot, and then a second set of folders that will contain processed footage, ready to roll in the editing system, frame rate, and TV Standard that you most use.

4.    Once you have a folder full of the generic, neutral files, open up a new project with the settings that you normally use in your every-day workflow.   Import your 100 avi files into your project and place them all on the timeline together.

5.    Go through the footage making any necessary color correction, sharpness, exposure, etc.  Now that we are working with AVI files, it will be much less destructive to make these kinds of corrections here.  Plus, if you ever need to make different changes to any one file, you can always easily come back to this original avi file to do that.  You will always have this one set of original, clean avi’s to work with.

6.    Once you have finished with your corrections, go through the timeline and set each clip to be added to a batch export list, using the same file naming process of the original avi file set.  Use export settings that best meet the needs of your studio, station, or media group. Set these to be exported to a new folder destination.

7.    Save this project in a safe place as you may find it very helpful in the future to very easily create a new set of archives to a different CODEC, TV Standard, frame rate or quality.

I know that this sounds like a lot of work, but I believe that in the end, it will prove to be very beneficial to have all my best shot set up this way.  Not only will I be creating a great set of GV HQ AVI files for my own use, other Edius Editors from all over can know that if they ever purchase stock footage directly from me, they can request that in GV AVI!  If I decide to list my stock with several stock agencies, it will be quite painless to create a set of clips specifically created for the compression standards that they request for their site.  Five years from now, when CODECs have been improved, I can go back to my first generation avi files and export again without breaking a sweat!

If you would like to see the process that I developed in more detail, check out our set of tutorials here.

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