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How to Build a Video Editing Workflow in 2020

December, 10 2019

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James Varndell
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James Varndell

Editing is the step that takes footage and turns it into a story. Whether you’re editing a cinematic tour de force or cutting together a short educational video, editing will decide whether or not the end product resonates with its intended audience. 

In an era where video content is more in demand than ever, it’s absolutely essential that creative directors, video production managers and editing talent all have a cohesive workflow for the editing process. This is essential in ensuring productivity and quality, and making sure that the finished product is completed to deadline. 

Your workflow will determine your ability to keep up with the groundswell of demand for quality video, while helping you maintain the kind of quality that keeps clients coming back. 

In this article, we’ll highlight the best practices in 2020 and beyond.

1. Shoot for the edit

Many of the best production houses actually start editing before the camera starts to roll. The more shots you take on site, the more options you have in the edit. For some editors, this is great. But there is no denying that it slows things down.

The best way to accelerate the video editing process is to limit the amount of footage you have to work with. To do this without damaging the outcome, you need to make sure that diligent planning goes into capturing the right shots. If done right, the entire editing process can be amazingly smooth simply because the shots you have to work with don’t require much editing at all.   

With this in mind, it’s not always practical (or physically possible) to shoot for the edit. Locations can be impacted by weather conditions, plans might change on the set, and we all know what they say about working with children and animals. Shooting for the edit is only the start of an optimized, modern video editing workflow.

2. Metadata: make it easy to find what you need

Within a single shoot, it’s all too easy to find yourself with huge quantities of footage. If you fail to shoot for the edit, and need to sort through a load of footage, metadata is the key. The problem with metadata is that creating it manually is time consuming and prone to mishaps. If footage is inconsistently labeled or if metadata is too sparse, it can impede your access.

With the right Video Asset Management platform, however, editors can get easy access to the video and audio files they need without the cumbersome process of adding metadata. These platforms use sophisticated tools to add uniform metadata to media files during the ingestion process.

The latest VAM trends deploy machine learning, object recognition and speech detection to automatically search video footage and apply tags that deliver near searchable transparency to video files — similar to using “CTRL + F” on a written document. Right now, this technology is only truly reliable when reviewed as part of the ingestion process. In the future, it may deliver retrospective transparency to all archived footage. 

For media agencies, production houses and broadcasters, the volumes of archived footage are a little hard to quantify. When it comes to crafting video for news stories, advertisements, corporate videos, and even documentaries and creative projects, this archive material can be of huge value for repurposing. Good metadata and advanced recognition tools make it easy to pull archive footage into your editing workflow. 

3. Use VAM that integrates with your editor

An efficient workflow removes extraneous steps and processes without compromising the quality of the end product. And when you use a VAM platform that integrates directly with your video editing software, life becomes a whole lot easier. 

When your VAM works in tandem with a video editor like Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro it makes for an easier and more comprehensive ingestion process. It also makes it quicker and easier to get access to production assets and archived post-production assets, maximizing access to footage while minimizing steps to get it. 

A VAM and editing platform working in harmony can save time and effort by integrating keyboard shortcuts and allowing editors to weave production assets with archived footage and make tweaks to color grading to make it blend in seamlessly.

It also makes it much easier to do the next thing on our list...

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4. Bring your video editing workflow into the cloud 

Video products have broadly been left behind by the cloud revolution. While cloud-based collaboration on word documents and audio files is relatively easy, the cumbersome file sizes of video assets make editing live in the cloud troublesome. Especially in an era where audiences expect High Definition and more devices than ever have the capacity for 4K playback. 

Today’s VAM platforms, however, can circumvent the issues that have hindered collaborative video editing on the cloud by using proxies. These are lower resolution representations of your master files that are just 2% of their original file size. This makes them readily available for true remote collaboration. 

Rather than passing assets back and forth, editors and creative directors can make changes in real time and see each other’s work right there on the computer screen. They can collaborate on making cuts, experiment and take creative risks, color correct, or change audio tracks instantaneously, even when working from opposite sides of the world.

And when the editing process is complete, assets can be converted back into high resolution files with complete frame accuracy through the process of conforming. Best of all, this is all completely automated and can be done in just a couple of clicks. This allows the final cut of your video files to be uploaded directly to your social media accounts, OTT platforms, your own website or wherever else you’d like to put them. 

Cloud editing creates a wealth of opportunities for cutting operational costs and improving workflow efficiency by hiring freelancers or working with remote teams in other countries. Doing this all from a single, encrypted platform removes security risks (both technical and human-caused) making a streamlined and secure workflow. You can set permissions, control access, and track usage. 

If you’re serious about optimizing your workflow in 2020, the cloud simply has to be part of the conversation. 

5.  Keep editing until you need to stop 

Editing is a creative process like any other. It should allow for trial and error, risk-taking and experimentation. When your VAM and editing software are working together, or when you’re collaborating remotely with others, it can create an atmosphere that is far more conducive to creative experimentation. 

And because you can track different versions of files quickly and easily, the process becomes much more iterative and time-efficient. However, with so many awesome toys at your disposal, the creative freedoms afforded by these technologies can actually become restrictions. 

With such granular control over the editing process, the editing process can become a rabbit hole where teams can tinker for hours and still never quite become happy with the cut. This can seriously derail your workflow. 

All great editors know that there’s a point at which they lose perspective and the value of knowing to stop when they arrive at this point. Leave the cut where it is and move on to other post-production elements like  grading or sound design. When you return to the cut with a fresh pair of eyes you might just find that you’re a lot happier with it.

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