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Tip #071: An Editing Workflow to Boost Efficiency

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Eleven steps to boost your productivity.

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Topic $TipTopic

Workflows exist to help you accomplish a task efficiently. These eleven steps were developed to help editors focus on what needs to be done now – as opposed to what you want to do now.

  1. Plan. The more time you spend planning, the faster the actual edit will go. Specifically think about what you need to deliver, then work everything backward from that.
  2. Gather. Gather all the media you need and put it where you can access it. Once you start editing, try not to move media.
  3. Import & Label. Import media into your project then label it so you can find it.
  4. Build the story. The most time-consuming part is figuring out what order of clips best tells your story.
  5. Organize and trim the story. Once you have the story roughly told, organize your clips to tell it better. Then, trim the edit points so the story flows smoothly from one shot to the next.
  6. Add transitions. Only after you have the story built and organized should you spend time adding transitions.
  7. Add text and effects. Now that the story is complete, polish it with text and effects. This will take all the available time between now and your deadline, which is why you need to build your story first.
  8. Mix the Audio. When the story is told and pictures are locked, its time to mix the audio.
  9. Color grade the story. While the audio mix is going on, color grade the images to create the look you want.
  10. Output the project. When everything is done, create the final version.
  11. Archive the project. Archiving is critical in today’s digital world. We are ALWAYS re-purposing assets. What do you need to keep for the long-term, where are you going to store it and how are you going to pay for it to be stored there?

All too often, we jump right into the sexy part of editing with transitions and effects, only to lose sight of the fact that, first, we need to tell a compelling story.

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  1. Patrick Flaherty
    Patrick Flaherty says:

    As far as archiving is concerned can you talk at some point about cleaning up the session for instance deleting backups, redundant libraries etc and how to track down any files that got saved somewhere you didn’t plan. What is exceptional for saving for one project ?

    • Larry Jordan
      Larry Jordan says:


      Yeah, archiving is a mess. And much more complex than a simple tip. I’ll add this to my weekly Edit Smarter Newsletter.


    • Larry Jordan
      Larry Jordan says:


      Tips are assigned numbers randomly and grouped into our different Tip Letters based on what feels, ah, “right” to me.

      And FCP X does not allow us to grade clips in the Browser.


    • Larry Jordan
      Larry Jordan says:


      Ah! I complete misunderstood your question. My apologies.

      From my perspective, color grading should always be the last step before export. Otherwise, you are wasting time grading clips that won’t make the final edit. Also, by looking at the final edit, you can make sure that color, like audio, flows smoothly from scene to scene.



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