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Prepare to Edit Your Marketing Video: Log the Footage

After you return from a marketing video shooting location, follow these general steps to log your footage — the most important step in preparing for the editing process:

  1. Download the footage to your computer.

    Using a modern camera, this process can be completed quickly — just copy the digital video files from the camera. Shooting on tape is more time-consuming because you have to let the tape run so that your editing program can capture all footage digitally. Refer to your camera’s instruction manual to find out how.

  2. Import the footage into your editing program.

    You may already have completed this step if you downloaded the footage using your editing software, but in other cases, you first have to import the footage manually.

  3. Organize your clips.

    After you have a bunch of clips that cover different parts of your project, start by organizing them to better see what you have. Group clips that are related to the same scene. Editing programs offer different methods to help, such as folders or “bins” in which you can store clips, labels and “tags” that you can assign to clips, or “events” that group related clips.

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  4. Watch your footage.

    Review all your clips to determine what you have. If you have a lot of footage, there’s no way to avoid this time-consuming step.

  5. Remove unwanted material.

    If you have clips that are clearly unusable, remove them immediately. Don’t delete them — just store them in a folder labeled Junk in your editing program or in your computer’s file system.

    Some editing programs can “reject” clips, by hiding them from your clip list while storing them in the system. Store even unwanted clips in a safe spot because sometimes a clip that looks like junk now can come in handy later.

  6. Take notes.

    The best way to find your footage quickly during editing is to take the time to take notes about every clip. Add a few simple words about the content of the clip and its level of quality. Most advanced editing programs even let you take notes directly in the program so that you can later search for keywords quickly.

    If you have interview clips or talking-head clips and you want to find a sound bite later, take more extensive notes about the topic discussed in a particular clip.

  7. Mark the best clips.

    If you have multiple takes of a scene, mark the one you think is best. Many editing programs let you use a special Favorites functionality, or you can simply make a mark in your notes. Also mark b-roll footage that you think looks good, and make notes of the best sound bites in interview clips.

Logging your footage may seem like a tedious and time-consuming process, but investing time in it pays off later. During editing, you can waste a lot of time hunting for a particular clip that you somehow recall but didn’t mark properly.

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