5 Tips to Speed Up Post Production Workflows

Last updated on: 2018


In the world of digital marketing, video reigns supreme. Not only does it garner more engagement across all social platforms, it is favored by the algorithms that determine what to showcase in user news feeds over any other kind of content. (Need more convincing? Check this and this out.) While video creation is a long process, the return on investment makes it worthwhile. Here are five tips on how to make the post production workflows more efficient and smooth, no matter what kind of video project you’re working on.

Organize Before You Edit

Logging and organizing footage is tedious in the short term, but once it’s done, it can save so much time during the cutting stage of your edit. This seems like a no-brainer to some, but for many, footage logs are a mess of random timecodes and files that look exactly the same at first glance. This results in a lifetime of sifting through multiple files to find one ten second piece of footage.

When importing footage for film, I use the most basic system to organize now and spare headaches later.

It starts by looking at each take on the clapper and creating a folder for each scene. In each scene folder lives two folders: video and audio. In each folder, the scenes are marked with the scene number, shot letter and take number, as in the example below. Keep in mind, however, that this only works if you have someone dedicated to the process while filming.


Of course, not all film projects are as pre-planned as they should be. Sometimes you have to run around and get what you can now and worry about organization later (and that’s okay). For example, when shooting a wedding, it is essential to get as much footage as you can and focus on organization once the event is over. In this circumstance, I split up the day into four different folders: pre-ceremony, ceremony, reception, and important moments. This allows me to easily think back to the day and know that footage that happened before the ceremony will obviously be in that folder. Within each of these folders are more subfolders that specify locations. I always name the file with the subject’s name, the action, and the shot (for example, Pre-ceremony > Hotel > Bride_dresspose_CU).

There are many different ways to organize the footage that will work for you, but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that you can find what you need at the drop of hat and keep those creative juices flowing.

Utilize a Pancake Timeline

Admittedly, I’ve only been using the Pancake Timeline technique for about a year, but when I discovered it, I never looked back. It’s an extremely basic technique that is described perfectly in the name. Essentially, you work off two timelines stacked on top on each other, one used for a more controlled place to grab your clips from, and one for your master edit.

There are resources that explain this technique in more detail, but for now, I want to highlight the benefits of using this technique.

The pancake timeline allows you to swiftly grab your important moments, or “selects”, to put into your master timeline and keep the work moving at a consistent pace. It also gives you a safe and easily accessible place to put the clips and snippets reviewed in your raw files and refer to them at any time during your assembly process.


Create Your Own Hotkeys and Actually Learn Them

Hotkeys are an invaluable tool in most NLEs (non-linear editors), allowing you to work straight from your keyboard and execute commands as quickly as possible. Personally, I do better when I create them myself. For others, a quick video tutorial and a handy cheat sheet will change your workflow game forever. I use Adobe Premiere (here here is their default hotkey list).


Image via Adobe.

Have a Vision and Write It Down

When the creative juices are flowing, it’s always nice to have something to bring you back down to earth when you go off the rails a little bit. Unfortunately, we don’t always have the luxury of knowing what footage we have coming to us, and in these cases, it’s important to thoroughly sift through your organized footage. After the initial run through, write down a basic outline or goals for the edit regarding pacing, song ideas and any notes from the client or director you have remembered. While I don’t always stick to this outline, sometimes when I get in too deep, it’s a nice reminder that I am either on the right track or have veered onto a new path.

Have the Right Gear or Know Someone Who Does

Having the right setup for video editing is essential for speeding up your workflow. A low-tier, entry-level computer is fine for very small projects, but once you start getting into audio mixing, large video files and adding effects and coloring, it takes a lot more power to keep your programs running smoothly.

Solid state hard drives may be a little more expensive but are worlds faster than regular HDDs (hard disk drives). Dedicated graphics cards are also necessary, as running multiple programs can really put a strain on your machine. If you can’t afford the right setup, it’s never an issue to call a friend or connect with another like-minded professional to learn what’s needed or allow them to help you with your projects. Collaboration and networking are the foundation of this industry, after all.

It’s also important to remember that your setup should fit your needs and preferences. Don’t be discouraged by the photos of professionals who have been doing this for decades or have more income. You will get there!

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