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Proper bin organization allows any editor stepping into a project to know exactly where every element of the project is without having lengthy searches. This is done by having a clear, consistent bin organization system.
The bin organization system can differ from post house to post house, but they all revolve around a couple key strategies.
The first strategy is to keep similar assets together. There are generally five categories of assets — sequences, audio, footage, graphics, and miscellaneous. These categories should get their own folder in the NLE. Inside that folder are the numerous bins associated with that category. Bins in the audio category would include music, sound effects (commonly written as SFX), voice-over (commonly written as VO), and any on-location audio that was recorded separately from the footage. For example, if there were three days of shooting there would be bins labeled “Day 1 Audio,” “Day 2 Audio,” and “Day 3 Audio.” These bins would more than likely have the date of the shoot in the name of the bin as well.
These categories of assets are usually written with numbers in front of them. It’s common to see folders labeled something like, “00_Sequences,” “10_Audio,” “20_Footage,” “30_Graphics,” and “40_Misc.” The numbers are for labeling purposes only, to force the NLE to order them that way when sorted alphabetically.
Here are two sample bin organization setups:
Footage bins usually require a bit more attention. Depending on the project, a common strategy is to tag, rate, color or somehow label clips inside footage bins after they have been imported into the project. This strategy separates the good clips from the bad clips and the great clips from the good clips.
Editors or assistant editors will evaluate the clips and use one of those labeling methods so they can quickly find usable clips. Finding clips is done by sifting, searching or sorting columns inside of a bin. If a 10-second shot is needed a bin can be sifted to just show the best shots then sorted by duration so all that’s left is shots that fit the criteria. This can be narrowed down even further with more metadata associated with footage. This shot also needs to be an exterior shot? With proper labeling this is no problem — just add another element to the search criteria.
Here’s an example of a footage bin that’s been color-coded with information added in the Description column:
Here’s that same bin filtered to show just the “great interior” shots:
Some productions use shared bins across multiple projects. Let’s say four episodes of a TV show are being edited at the same time by four different editors in four different projects. All four editors can share resources from a shared project containing elements like the opening title sequence and graphics packages used throughout the series. Those bins live in a different project from each episode’s project but can be opened and used by all the editors. See bin locking and simultaneous access for more information.
The importance of bin and asset organization can often be overlooked. Once the cameras stop rolling all eyes turn towards the editor to start putting together the first cut. However there needs to be proper time spent at the beginning of the project to organize the bins in order for the editor to be efficient throughout the entire post-production process.
Video collaboration solved.