Organizing for a Massive Project

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the November, 2007, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Tim Wilson writes:

Please tell me where I can find your most complete advice about organizing a *massive* editing project — close on 200 hours of material that has to be sugared down to 1 hour. I don’t mean your excellent basic instructions on setting up media vs project/non-timecode files, but more detailed suggestions about what works for you when doing a project of this size, e.g. breaking reels down into subclips and organizing those.


At present, we have the 200 HDV tapes captured in 10 min. segments and arranged by bins, each named according to the individual reels. My plan is to leave those 200 bins untouched, but to make subclips of selected material, and put those subclips into either or both of:


  1. Another set of bins named by theme or type (principal interview/scenics/B-roll etc/), and
  2. A *long* timeline that would rough-assemble all main sequences of the film


Does this make sense?


The Final Cut project file and all media would then be shipped to our Editor for her to screen only the Selects, and go from there.


As usual, any help as usual is much appreciated!

Larry replies: Tim, your basic approach makes sense. However, keep two things in mind:

  1. Final Cut tends to slow down when you have thousands of clips in the Browser. Minimizing the number of Browser clips you need is a good idea.
  2. Final Cut allocates RAM memory based on the number of clips in the timeline. FCP 6 supports up to 12 hours of material in one sequence, but if that is made of lots of small clips, you will see a performance slow-down.

If anyone else has suggestions on how to manage large projects, please let me know and I’ll share them with everyone.

UPDATE – Nov. 27

Tom Wolsky writes:

I would recommend Shane Ross’s DVD on organizing material in FCP projects.

Shane Ross wrote in to suggest the same thing:

I have a tutorial DVD on this and many other organizational tips. I believe I gave you a copy. GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO.

Brandon Klein writes:

Great newsletter!


We are in the final stages of editing down approx 320 hours to 80-90 minutes. The project file for all the footage- 25,000 clips is 138.3MB, and takes FCP 10 minutes just to open on the latest hardware. I feel the pain of your readers question.


This may be a very simplistic answer, but working with sub clips turned out to be a nightmare for us and we stopped using them very quickly. (In out points- dragged to the timeline for the editor to watch real rough cuts worked considerably better)


We divided the 25,000 clips by content type so that each file was between 10MB and 20MB. These were easily manageable.


We then did rough cuts of each category and were able to bring those timelines over to a new project to create the final timeline. We would often have 2-3 projects open (the original content type projects) at a time so we could access some of the raw footage if needed- but always work on a timeline that was in a different project file all by itself.


Having these smaller content project files also allowed more than one editor to work on different parts of the film simultaneously over the network.


Perhaps too simple, but effective nonetheless.

Larry replies: Thanks for letting us know. Also, Russell Stiggants sent in a long reply, which I’ll put in the next issue.


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