Workflow Tip: Files, Hotkeys & Rendering

One of my main goals for this class was to increase my workflow speed when producing video images. I typically try to avoid working with video as much as possible, due to the time consuming nature of the media. It literally takes at least as long as the piece to even review your work. In my primary field of graphic and web design I can check my work in seconds, problem solve in seconds and finish a project in less time then it takes to read the text on the page I am building. However, I am resolved to decrease my video production time as much as humanely possible to increase both my motivation to do the work, but also to increase the quality of it. If I have more time, I have more time to do things right.

When working with digital video the first step I found very important is to organize your files in such a way that you cannot possibly mess it up. Try and create labeling and folder format that a child could navigate. This is so that in the heat of all your software crashing, your patience running thin, you will never have to think twice about where the file you need is. If I have to stop and look for a file, and it’s not where I want it, my entire train of thought crashes and burns.

Next, with whatever software you use – Final Cut for me – learn the hotkeys, or tape a sheet of them to your desk, or better yet, laminate the things and use it as a video editing mouse pad. It sounds crazy, but once you learn the hotkeys everything becomes much more comfortable. There are tons of resources online that will provide a complete list of every programs shortcuts and hotkeys. For Final Cut Pro I have been using this one, which while long, is comprehensive. This is something I have been doing since I first started playing computer games. Every gamer know that the less you point and click, the faster you can preform tasks. In gaming it makes the difference between life and death, in multimedia work it can make the difference between frustration of searching through menus and getting projects done on time.

Finally, the bane of my multimedia experience, rendering is the most time consuming and frustrating task I have ever had to sit through. Final Cut X does manage to save some time with background rendering, so when your mouse is still it uses the processing power to render – same with exporting, once rendered it is ready to export, no re-encoding. However, for Final Cut Pro 7 rendering is a much different task. For work flow I find the most effective to is import all my files, place them and preform all my basic edits, usually allowing a little extra space on both sides of unrendered footage. Of course this requires that you know some of the cut points and markers in the footage you wish to edit at. Once initial setup and placement render only the footage you need to save time at this point. While you wait for rendering, because you will have to wait, if you have to processing power you can either conduct research about your current project, for a rational perhaps, or if you need to edit some graphics, for title cards, still images, ect. now is the time to do it. When you have finished your edits and can go no further without rendering all media, knuckle down and do it. Plan to get a coffee, watch an episode of a TV show or finish some other homework. I find planning my rendering time around other work increase the time I spend on video projects by about half.

Increasing my workflow has been a huge challenge. However, with some basic things like organizing files for quick access, learning time saving shortcuts and hotkeys and finally planning all my rendering I find that I am learning to save lots of time and decrease frustration during producing video works. Reducing time on set and filming, that is another issue.

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