A Checklist for Video Editing

Posted on by Larry

Lanny Cotler recently sent me a request that I’ve been thinking about a lot. He wrote:

My biggest nemesis in my work with FCP (since v.1) has been media management. A checklist at this point would be helpful: Libraries, Events, Projects. Do I move, adjust, stay where I’m at?

What questions should we be asking ourselves and addressing at this point? Are there things we should do, by way of setting up our workspace, that will help us to keep things organized going forward?

My first reaction after reading this was that this was unanswerable; every project is different, there are no “rules” that apply to everyone.

But, the idea refused to stop bothering me until I realized that, at a higher level, there are a number of questions that we must ask ourselves before we start any project that can prevent problems. Even more helpful, these questions are, essentially, the same whether we are editing in Premiere or Final Cut, or any other NLE.

They fall into the following categories:

While the answers to these questions will vary with each project – and not all projects require answers to all these questions – the more you plan the entire process the fewer problems you’ll have during the course of a project.

It’s not that problems don’t occur; EVERY project has its share of problems. The goal, instead, is to figure out answers to common problems in the calm before the storm, rather than when backed into a corner from the latest crisis du jour.


Legal / Review

Project Workflow


Naming Conventions


Backups / Archives



It seems like the list of questions is never-ending, especially when all we really want to do is get in there and start editing.

However, the more time you spend planning and testing your workflow at the beginning of a project, the smoother the overall project will run and the easier it will be to resolve those problems that do crop up during the edit.

Let me know if I forgot anything significant and I’ll add it to the list.

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4 Responses to A Checklist for Video Editing

  1. Lanny Cotler says:

    WOW! Supremely helpful.

    I never thought my simple, perhaps only intermediate questions, were so seminal. No credit to me, but to you for interpolating a fine starting point for editors.

    Larry, you are a superior teacher, one who can readily intuit the “child’s mind” that we all have as we climb the learning curves.

    Thank you so much!


  2. Robert Withers says:

    Very interesting. Now I need to take individual items on the list and research them to learn options and best practices. Eg, what are good logging practices, where do caches go, how to use naming conventions. It’s a start for many searches.

    • Larry says:


      As you start to research these, you’ll discover that there is a LOT!! of variation. I would not waste time trying to figure out what is the “best” approach – because what works for a feature film is not helpful at all for a wedding videographer or a documentarian.

      The much more important point is to think about the answers to these questions from the point of view of your project. Even if your initial answer proves to be incorrect, the fact that you thought about it before you started editing makes that problem easier to solve.

      And, in general, I store caches to external drives, logging practices depend upon the video format of your source media and the software you have access to, and naming conventions are anything you like – PROVIDED they are consistently applied and you can understand them.


  3. Dick Jacoby says:

    I’m way old. Started with 8mm. Your check-list helps.

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