The Sketch Cut

I'm in the US right now, and have been collecting footage since shortly before my departure. Collectively, I have recorded 3 hours, 36 minutes of footage from my iPhone, GoPro and Canon 7D. I have spent somewhere between 10-15 hours editing that footage on planes, in airports and during downtime. Assuming the higher number of hours, that's a whopping 4.2 minutes of editing per minute of recorded footage. Considering I'm not even close to finishing this current chunk of editing, this is a problem that needs to be addressed.

There are two criteria for improving this process
- A smoother process should increase quality, not decrease it through corner-cutting
- Improvements need to be applicable to any video I edit, not just this one

In essence, I need to be faster and better, which ultimately should be one and the same, doing more quality work in less time. Sure part of that is just raw speed; trimming clips, rolling edits, etc. But that's not where the bottleneck is.

Enter, the Sketch Cut.

What is that you ask? It doesn't exist yet. But I need a process for faster editing, and the process needs a name. The following is a summary of my advice I think I should give myself.

Import and tweak as early as possible.
At the first logical and convenient moment all footage should be copied to my computer, imported into Premiere, junk clips discarded, in/out points set, marked with any applicable metadata, backed up and finally SD cards should be formatted. This last step saves space, and saves time that would be spent working out what hadn't been imported next time.

The right kind of metadata.
Does a less sexy word exist? Metadata, the thing that every filmmaker knows is important, but doesn't really want to use. Of course some metadata is automatic such as timecode, GPS or time-stamping, but much more useful information can be applied by hand. I'm now marking all narrative clips, so I know where the story is without the need to scrub through all the footage.  

Don't let junk reach the timeline.
It's so tempting to jump right in and start editing, but in the end it will only cost you time. Before footage is allowed on the timeline it must be trimmed, marked as good and have all metadata applied. Some footage can also be deleted if it's just junk.

Search Bins.
Premiere has a handy feature called search bins, these bins are smart folders that can have criteria. Any piece of metadata can be used as a search term. I now have bins that finds slow-motion footage, anything marked narrative and anything that isn't marked as good. This helps sort through footage much faster and saves additional time.

A project template to rule them all.
Making a template is tricky because unless you work at a studio the question "What will I need from a template tomorrow?" is a hard one. This deserves its own post and I plan to share what I'm using for for a series, along with a more generalised short film template. It's easy to overdo it with a template, so it's important to keep in mind the purpose of a good template: Save time and stay organised while not adding unnecessary steps.

Time will tell just how effective this new process will be, but from the short amount of time I've been applying it to this current project it's served me well.