Organization: Log Footage on Computer


Use Your Photography Skills to Master Videography


Lesson Info

Organization: Log Footage on Computer

Now that you're, hopefully, out there shooting a lot using audio in kind of new and creative ways gathering lot's of footage, you want to make sure that you're really staying organized with the system and as I think I said yesterday, I'm actually much more organized as a videographer than I am as a photographer. And that's not because I'm a super organized person but because video just requires it in order for me to kind of stay on top of what I'm shooting, I have to make sure that I've got some good systems in place so that I don't get kind of lost in the material because, you know, unlike with stills where you can just kind of quickly open up the folder go click, click, click and see, like, oh that's obviously what was going on there, video is like you have to watch these things in order to, and watching things takes time. So I'm going to show you kind of the folder organization that I like to use and then we're gonna talk about some logging of footage as well. But, let's start off w...

ith folders. So, this is geared towards anything that's beyond a like one day project. I mean a one day shoot is a one day shoot and it can kind of just be labeled in a folder that has that date and whatever the subject matter was but part of the great thing with video and part of the reason that I think adding this to my toolkit has been a source of kind of revenue and being able to increase what I charge clients is because video is very rarely a one day thing. It's quite possible that I would get a one day portrait shoot or a one day stills assignment but the idea that I could go off and shoot even a short film in a day is pretty unlikely. And so not only do I get to like charge my clients a little bit more for the skills that I have, I also tend to get a lot more days of the assignment and in this world we mostly tend to be paid in the form of day rates. So, this kind of system that I'm looking at is really applicable to anything beyond, like your one day shoot, you know. If it's a week, if it's a short film that's gonna take a couple of different trips, if it's a long film, like the one I worked on with my co-director and we were shooting for many years, this is kind of a folder system that I use across the board. And the way that I kind of think about the naming system in this is that I kind of try to think about it in, every time I go out on a shoot it's basically a series. So let's call this, we're gonna call this the sample folder and go inside and I always like to do this kind of as we go rather than just showing you the setup. When I think about a shoot I'm probably thinking about is it going to be just me or is it going to be multiple shooters and chances are, as I've kind of described, I like to work with a few shooters. So I'm going to always just J, referring to myself as Jessica, and let's say I'm gonna use someone else as B, for either B camera or maybe my co-shooters name is Bob. But at the beginning of every time I go out basically whether that's a week or a small trip basically I always think of these projects as like, they're not all happening all at once, you kind of break them into sections. You either go out for a trip, you shoot for a couple days and then you come back and you think about it. Or you look at one aspect of something for a week then you kind of go away and the next time you look at the different aspect. And I always kind of break these up as series. The one series, the two series, the three series so that, like, I can kind of have a handle of, oh, when I went to this one location that was during like my third trip in this project, that's series three or my third series. But if I just stick to one digit numbers I might kind of run out of space or start getting a little messy pretty soon. So instead of doing the one series, I actually do it as the 1,000 series. So my first folder, if I'm going to go out and start a project, is going to be 1, and then J for me. So that I know that there might be, within our sample project, the sample folder here, there might be another shooter and chances are that person is also going to be starting out on the 1,000 series but it's gonna be a B for their initials so that we can differentiate who is who. What you never want to do is, let's say, my folder was called 1,000 and his or her folder was called 1,000, all of a sudden we've got things with identical names and that's never a great idea. You can quickly lose track of like, uh oh, you think you're copying one thing over you're copying something else over and all of a sudden you can't find the original materials. So, 1,000 B. In my folder, then 1,000 J is where all of the material from my very first shoot should go. And so what I like to do is just kind of label each day as a new thing. I will have the date somewhere else. I don't necessarily need to get bogged down in really long folder naming. So I like to have this kind of dated somewhere else but just kind of go day by day. So the first day that I shoot is 1,001 J. It's not 1,000 J even though we could start at zero if it was 1,000 J, that sub folder, in my main folder and my main folder, are gonna have the same name. And again that's dangerous because I might think I'm copying the whole 1,000 series over one day and by accident I would just be copying one day over as a backup and then all of a sudden I've got this issue. So day one is 1,001 J. Next time I go out, maybe it's the very next day maybe it's two days later, maybe I took a down day in between, took a day to look at footage, what have you, next time I go out is 1,002 J. Next time I go out is 1,003 J and on and on and on. This basically goes on for the bulk of my, you know, first shoot. Let's say I did, and maybe the entire project only happens over one week, it's okay that this one project just has one series. It's a story or a project that happens during one kind of week long shoot and everything is organized by the day, and that's it. It lives in a folder that says, you know, maybe the year of that project or what the project is named for and you can just see all of your material there. But if I return, let's say I worked on it for a while, I took a little bit of a break, we needed to let some time go by and then I did another trip, then I start a new folder. Which is now my 2000 series and J so that I know that it's mine. Now let's say I have, let's do two finder windows, okay, so let's say, here we are at 2,000 J and let's say I have a co-shooter and I go out for the first day so again, first day of the 2,000 series is 2,001 J and then I do a second day, 2,002 J and then my co-shooter shows up. Maybe he or she wasn't there to begin with but now all of a sudden they're there. So in the 2,000 folder, which is where both of these are in the 2,000 J folder, I have my two days and we're gonna make a new folder for my co-shooter 2,000 B, but let's say they don't show up until the third day. I, over here, my third day is 2,003 J for the third day and it's mine. And now my co-shooter shows up. When he or she show's up, I don't necessarily, if I know that this truly like a co-shot thing, I don't go ahead and start them off on one just because it's their first day. Because if we're co-shooting, I need the editor, this is for organizing myself but it's also for kind of indicating to the editor how things are structured. If everything was just one long line of information that went on and on forever they wouldn't kind of understand, okay this was one section of the story then they go away and come back, we're kind of starting a new chapter, then we go somewhere else, starting a new thing. But also, if I start my co-shooter off as day one when I'm already on my third day, sure it's their first day out but the editor doesn't know that these two sets of material should go together. So this was something that we kind of learned by trial and error. We used to just, me and my co-director, we used to just label it by however many days we had both been there. But my 2,004 J is his 2,001 C, how would my editor ever know that those go together? So the very first day that he or she is shooting with me, I basically am taking the lead. It's whatever my folder situation is. Now we are at, for this person, 2,003 C. Next day, 2,004 C and whoops, let's do that, and over here let's do 2,004 J. And then let's say, I catch a cold and I can't go out and shoot and my co-shooter can. His next day or her next day is 2,005 C, even though I wasn't there. We kind of just pick up and let that person go along. And when I come back, now we're at 2,006 C, he's been in fine health, he keeps shooting. I had a down day, got sick, now we're back together again. 2,006 J so that, the reason for this, the reason I would just skip over that day is so that this folder here and this folder here, that were shot at the same time are always kind of assumed that they go together. Obviously we might be shooting different things but even in one day it's really helpful to know while this camera person was over there doing this, this same thing was happening over here. Yes? So, does either you or your co-shooter, do you become sort of the keeper of the drive, I guess? At the end of the day all the stuff ends up with you or with them or both get a copy? Great question. That's a great question. So the system that I really like to use and there are pro's and con's to this, there, you know a lot of people use the Lacie Rugged drives, which come up to three and four terabytes. Those are a great option for in the field. They're very durable. They hold a lot of media, so typically what we would do is, I would download onto my drive, they would download onto their drive and then we swap. One person goes home with one drive, especially if it's a really, you know, co-created project. If you're the main director and you've basically hired another shooter, don't send your shooter home with that material, you're gonna need both sets of drives. One for you, one for your editor. But if you guys are really co-creating this project it's great for you both to have copies of it so you can both review and look at your footage but also so that, god forbid anything were to happen a fire in your apartment, a flood in your basement, you know, a bag getting stolen, I'm not gonna say lost by the airlines 'cause don't check your drives, under the plane but let's say a bag gets stolen from a train station or an airport or what have you, it's great to have the stuff separated if you can. The other thing that we started to do was that you can get hard drives, external hard drives that don't have the casing of the Rugged and are just kind of the raw, without casing drives that basically go into a docking system. They don't have any kind of external stuff around them, they're just the three of four terabyte drives. The great thing about that is that they're very interchangeable. So like, instead of having all of these different drives with all of these different wires, I basically just have a library of drives at home that are all uniform in size, I can stack them up, they're all in their own little just plastic cases and I plug 'em into a docking station. Without that kind of external Rugged, you know, the Rugged drives that I'm talking about are these orange that kind of everyone uses that you can drop 'em on the floor they're very kind of sturdy. Without all of that extra casing around it, you're drives are much more delicate and you have to kind of handle them like they're little, tiny chicken eggs that you're afraid might break or crack. But without all of that extra casing around them they're also a lot, lot cheaper. And so we found ourselves in a situation where, again you really want two copies of your material if not three, one for you, one for someone else and one for in case something terrible happens. All of that material, you know terabytes and terabytes of footage, the cost kind of starts to add up. Without all of that extra casing, it's less kind of cables and wires and different systems but it also meant that we could buy a four terabyte drive for something like $129 or $140. When you're doing a lot of 'em that kind of price thing margin adds up and saves you a lot of money. So that was a system that we would use. What's nice about that system too is that we could both just have our docks and the dock is basically what you take this raw drive and put in, we could both have our docks set up and we would basically just swap so that the drives were completely mirrored, the same folder system. Which is very important as well because once you start kind of working in editing software, you want your drives to be as identical as possible because the pathway in your editing software from your drives down into your sub folders, into the material is kind of written by, you know how you tell that editing software to get to the material. If the other drive is organized differently, once you plug in that drive, it won't necessarily know where to find this material. So when their totally mirrored, then you can be able to kinda swap things around with much more ease. Great. Any other questions? Anything that's come in? Somebody, Johnathan Robinson, had asked about using the date instead of sort of these simplified number system. I know you mentioned you don't do that but have you found reasons to not do that? I have just found reasons that like, you know for me personally, I find that there's less if I'm looking for something and I say it's in 2,003 C, that's like a very easy thing for to like, remember, see, locate, I get a little dyslexic sometimes when I'm tired. Sometimes like thinks kind of switch and swap and so I find that if keep this very simple and I have the date referenced elsewhere, that I'm much less likely to make kind of a big mistake and I don't want to make a mistake here in these big folders with all of this information, where stuff really matters. So I find that I like this to kind of be as simple as possible. I might do something like name my folder you know, my main project maybe can be you know, sample folder or you know, something like that but I really try to kind of keep that as stripped down and basic as possible because I do find that just otherwise I'm much more likely to make a mistake. Alright, if by chance another shooter come on, let's say we're away from the project and we need another shooter to take over for something. There's something really important going on here in Seattle and unfortunately I couldn't be here and my co-director couldn't be here, still follows the same sequence, which is that we have, it's the next thing, it's 3,000 C and it's just that this person might be named David, so it's always just the initial for, rather, I don't really think about A camera, B camera as in terms of like, most important and second most important, I think all of this stuff chances are is really important. So I just kind of wanna know who did it. I just want to know who can I ask questions to, if I'm confused about something, who might know the answer? Who's responsible for this? If there are mistakes, who did that? You know, that's what I want to know about. So I just kind of go by peoples initials, 3,000 D, you know we might have hired someone to shoot you know, a few days worth of footage. 3,002 D, and then once we're all back together so there it is. And then once we're all back together, pick right back up at 4,000 J series and four thou, whoops, ha food, 4,000 B series, okay? Great. Now the next thing that I find really important, and it will really help you in terms of a buncha things, is logging your footage. So, this is gonna help you in a few ways and what I mean by this is that by the end of the night or at the end of the shoot day or sometimes even as you're going along, what you wanna do is write down what happened. And at first those notes are gonna be very basic and I'll kind of show you what it looks like at first. And then as you go on you'll find that there's room for more details and possibilities of describing and explaining what you saw. But this is for two reasons. One is that at the end of that long shoot day, it's an opportunity, especially as you're moving forward, if it's your very last shoot of the whole week you might be like, uh, I'll do this when I get home. But if you're still out there in the field you've got four more shoot days ahead of you, you just got back to the hotel, your downloading your cards, it's an opportunity for you to sit down your computer and say, okay what happened today? First, it gets it down on paper before you forget about it. Which is super important. And will come in very useful and handy and I'll kind of explain some of that but also it's an opportunity for you to kind of be thinking in the story boarding kind of way. If you're thinking about like, alright well what did I see today, you're kind of starting to like put these puzzle pieces together. You might say, and I've done this, I shot not only today but yesterday and the day before, I shot, Erica, one of our subjects at one point tearing down a wall in her house and I've been shooting it for three days now. I mean, it's an opportunity for me to say, is this relevant? Is this important that I get good stuff? Where am I going with this? Why did I do that? Now that I'm looking at my log sheet all it says is she's tearing a wall down, did I need three days worth of material? What do I need that I'm not getting that makes me, you know, clearly I must be kind of chasing after something and in this situation maybe it's not her tearing the wall down but I must be needing something. I keep shooting this one thing, what is it that I need in this story that I'm not getting? It's not that you can necessarily ask her to go do that but you might start kind of looking out for it. You might say, oh, this is what I need and I'm realizing that I do need something from this story line, which is why I keep shooting this thing. It's not happening. Or you might look at it and say, wow, you know this thing happened that I didn't expect and it's taking me over here. It's just an opportunity for you to kind of sit down and like think about what you've been shooting, where it goes, where it fits into the story and what's important about it. And if you get it down in your notes it's a great opportunity to make sure that you don't forget about it. In the same way that like, you know if you wake up in the morning and you write down your dream right away, you'll remember it. You'll have a piece of paper that you can reference but also it will weirdly stay in your head more. If you don't, you wake up and you're like, I had this crazy dream, of course I'll remember it. I'm gonna go make some eggs. In 20 minutes it's like, it's gone. You can't access it, it's completely, it's slipped away. It's a very similar thing, especially when you've been doing a lot of footage.

Class Description

Just because you’re a photographer doesn’t mean you can’t shoot compelling video. If you have a digital SLR, you have the equipment. If you’re a photographer who loves to tell captivating visual stories, you have the passion and the necessary skills. It doesn’t matter whether you want to create powerful short films about global issues or take videos of your friends on vacation: all it takes to start being a successful videographer is strong photography skills.

Join VII Agency photojournalist Jessica Dimmock for this class, and you’ll learn:

  • How to storyboard to create a strong narrative
  • How to properly capture sound and voiceover while on a shoot
  • How to shoot for an editor and to think with the edit in mind
Jessica has traveled the world in the pursuit of powerful stories. Her work has been published in publications like the New Yorker and Time, and has been exhibited in galleries around the globe. Her skill with a camera allowed her to pivot into videography, where she created music videos, short projects and feature films. Becoming a filmmaker as well as a photographer opened up a new form of media for her stories - and doubled her day rate. Draw in new clientele and start expressing your creativity in new ways!  


a Creativelive Student

I have been waiting for a course like this. Purchasing it was a no-brainer. Taught by an accomplished professional in the field, with a strong track record of high level work, Jessica Dimmock, I feel, is exactly the type of instructor Creative Live should be giving air time to. I have watched other Videography classes on Creative Live, and this was the first one that I felt was worth purchasing due to how much info was being shared, in a very methodical, easy to follow (but not dumb downed) fashion.

a Creativelive Student

This class has left me feeling very encouraged and inspired about getting into videography. Jessica has made some great work, in her short career with video, and was able to share what she learned through those experiences. She started out as a photographer and has now incorporated video into her skill set and it seems to have expanded the diversity her opportunities and has enriched what she produces and shares with the world. I look forward to doing the same thing in my own way. Thanks CL for another wonderful class.


Simultaneously broad and deep, the information Jessica covers and the way she delivers it really give you the feeling you can jump into video right away. Professionalism in every area, from prep steps to workflow in the field to clean organization and processing, inspires confidence in the value of her methods. She clearly learned most of this in the field over years of work, which means the rest of us now have a huge leg up on our first projects. Thank you so much!