I find it extremely helpful to have a consistent structure in place before starting a new project. And over the years, I struggled with nailing down a set project system. It was convoluted, messy and I dreaded going back into older projects. So I set out to find something and stick to it. I think I’ve found it. It works for me, hopefully, it will help you too.
With that, let’s take a deep dive into how I structure a project, and at the very end, I’ll show you a little trick to make a project folder structure quickly by automating it.
The less time you spend setting up a new project, the more time you can spend on what you do best – creating!
First off, it’s a mess. What’s what? Who’s the client? When was it created? Who created it!?
Again, every studio will have their own way of naming projects, but they’ll all likely have the same commonality. All this makes it super easy to track later, too.
Managing and tracking
Who hired you? Who is the job for?
What’s the specific name for the job. Think of this as a campaign name. For instance, if the client’s name is MGH, this PROJECT-NAME could be for the “Zeke-Short-Film”
This is the date when the project is created
Who is the project lead? Who created the project?
It would look something like this:
Raw Footage and Proxies
All files used to create the project.
Textures, Jpegs, Stock elements
This is a beast of a folder. ALL audio projects and files all up in this!
The super fun part of the project. Mainly paper work.
Stuff that can be trashed or needs to be organized.
Just that – for approvals. Usually, lower resolution outputs for the client to review and sign off on.
Just organize them by DATE only. This comes in handy if you need to track past renders down. Especially if you specified a number of revisions to the client.
Full high quality renders. The ones you’d submit for TV and/or WEB.
Full broadcast deliverables with specified size, codecs, quality.
Social, YouTube, Vimeo, or other web-based destinations.
If you’re dealing with footage shot by yourself or anyone else, this is the folder in which to put all the raw footage. So let’s create a few sub-folders.
All raw footage that comes into you or offloaded.
Each CAMERA should be in its own folder.
Organized by DATE.
Then organized by CARD NAME.
Sometimes your system isn’t strong enough to handle beefy files – like ALEXA or RED 8k – I get it – and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. That’s where PROXIES come in. And we have a folder just for them!
02 Program Files
This can get a bit crazy – depending on the different kinds of programs you’re using. Just create folders for each PROGRAM you use. I work in an Adobe Environment so here’s what mine look like.
You’ll see that I have two folders called A – Working and B – Master. I like to work in steps. Meaning, edit, picture lock, sound, graphics, VFX. These would be considered Working project files.
All After Effects projects go in here.
All Photoshop files go here. I have a folder called “STYLEFRAMES“ in which I have templates automatically generated at project creation.
All vector and Illustrator files go here.
If you’re bringing any projects in from an outside editor using XML, those files go here.
These are broken down into SCENES, RENDERS, and 3D MODELS. I’ll be honest, been getting into Blender more these days, so feel free to rename to your 3D Program of choice, if any.
I want to back up a bit and focus on the WORKING and MASTER files for the Premiere folder. As mentioned before, I prefer to work in steps. Meaning, edit, picture lock, sound, graphics, and VFX. These would be considered Working project files.
The B – Master would be the final project file you’d use to push out the Master Render.
These are just assets you’d bring in. Again, user and project-specific. This is where I would put any artwork provided by the client, JPGs, PNGs, MOV-rendered elements, and Stock Footage. Here’s what I have created for me:
Anything proved from the client to use. Logos, style guides, etc…
Sometimes you need to render out Image Sequences from Photoshop, Mocha Import Sequences or 3D render sequences. They’ll go here.
This can be rendered or acquired images. This doesn’t need to be specifically JPG. PNG and like images can populate this folder too.
I put rendered elements from After Effects in here. They can be smoke and dust elements, to pre-rendered elements created to speed up compositing. Lower Thirds and titles can go here too.
Stock images and footage can go here.
This can be a monster too, but we need to give this area the attention it deserves – after all, the sound is 80% of the video. In true fashion its in order. Incoming to Outgoing.
The raw audio coming from the edit. This can be OMFs as well.
The score from the composer, stems, purchased music.
This can be Voice Over, too.
Any Sound Effect created specifically for the project.
Working Projects (see below)
Full mix and sweetened project.
Outgoing audio files back to Editor
I’d like to go over the E – Editorial real quick. Just like my Premiere working project files, I do the same with Audio edits, with sequential project saves with the coding system below:
Background audio (room tones, environments)
This is a super dull area but equally important. This is where the scripts go. Any important documents, references, contracts, and legal stuff.
06 Temp X
This is just a holding place before a file goes to the trash. Quick renders to see if it looks good, but not worth keeping. Anything…temporary.
DOWNLOADSGet it Boi!
MGH Project management
folder structurePR AE PS AU
Now, because I love you, I will also provide y’all the Post Haste template of my Project Folder setup. It comes with every folder explained in this article. You can use Post Haste or store it locally on your system and copy it.