In the past, I often found myself digging into the archives of video and photos I’ve shot only to find a massive folder filled with filenames like VID039328.mp4. In those moments, I deeply regretted not being better about keeping my videos and photos organized.
Eventually I got fed up and today my folders are neat and ready to browse. Whether you’ll be giving your videos to someone else to edit, editing them yourself, or just saving them, these tips can make your life a lot easier when it comes time to access your video files.
1. Create a Hierarchy and Stick to It
Having a hierarchy of folders is the key to an organized media collection of any kind. You have to decide what makes the most sense for you, but start with big categories and work your way down. I like to do it by month or season so “March 2015” or “Spring 2015”, then by event, and then let the event dictate any further organization. Figure out a system that works for you and stay with it.
2. Do it Right Away
A big mistake I used to make was letting content from many events stack up and then trying to organize it all at once. Instead, sort things out one at a time as soon as they happen. It’s much easier to manage smaller batches. Plus, with the event fresh in your mind you’ll be able to make better decisions on how you’ll want the files to be ordered.
3. Toss Out the Trash
More often than not you’ll look back at your footage and realize that there’s a lot of crap that you’ll have no use for. If it’s truly unusable, just delete it. There’s no point in filling up your hard drive with garbage. If it’s low quality but you’re not ready to part with it just yet, put it in a separate folder.
4. Use Descriptive Titles
You don’t want to have to rewatch a hundred videos just to find the one you’re looking for. By creating concise yet descriptive titles, you’ll be able to pick out the exact clip you’re looking for with little effort. Instead of filenames like “Skiing 1”, try something like “Skiing Vail Day 1 – First Run”.
5. Numbers Are Your Friend
Chances are chronological order will be the easiest way to view your videos and photos. To make a neat list, label everything with a number at the start of the file name. This makes it easy to sort alphabetically by filename and view everything in the order that it happened.