3.2. Logging the footage

Setting up your capture folder

It is important to ensure that all of the audio and visual material for your project is stored in one location – your project folder. As you work on editing your film, the editing software needs to constantly read information from the different movie and sound files you are using. If, for example, you use a song from a CD, that CD must always be in your computer for the editing software to be able to use it. You must, instead, copy the song file from the CD into your project folder. Your project folder, then, will contain every sound, movie or picture file that is being used in your edit. 

Let’s call your project “My Project”. The first thing to do is to set up a folder on the hard drive that you’ll be working on called “My Project Folder”. The hard drive you chose should be large enough to store all the files you’ll need to use in your project. Open your editing software and save the new file you’ve created as “My Project” in your “My Project Folder” folder. Editing software will usually allow you to decide where any captured material is to be stored. This is normally under the “preferences’ option. Choose the “My Project Folder” as the location for the captured material.

Capturing from tape

While this is a disappearing technology, some cameras are still recording to digital tape. Generally the transfer from tape to the editing software is achieved by connecting the camera to the computer with a Firewire cable. When you open your editing software it recognizes that a camera is connected. You then ensure that your tape is fully rewound and initialize the software’s “capture” instructions. This will read the footage from your tape and create digital files in a folder within your “My Project Folder” folder. You can now store the original tapes as back-ups in case anything happens to damage or destroy your hard drive or the files on it.

Transferring from memory card

It is most likely that you will be transferring your footage from the internal memory of your camera or from external memory cards. These files are already in a digital format but they are usually compressed and have to be uncompressed to allow your editing software to work with them. The process is similar to logging from tape. You connect your camera if the footage is on its internal memory or insert your memory card into a memory card reader or, if it has it, the memory card slot on your computer. Your editing software will recognize the presence of files and begin the transfer process, usually uncompressing the files as it goes. Remember – uncompressed files normally take three or four times the space that compressed files do so ensure that you have sufficient hard drive space.

Organising your media

When your files or ‘clips’, as they are now called, have been imported into your editing software they will normally be labeled with a number. Before you start editing it is a good idea to look at each clip and rename it to make it easier for you to locate the shots you want. In some editing software packages you can create ‘bins’, which are sub-folders, to put different groups of clips into. For example, in a short movie you might have a different bin for the clips for each scene.

Protecting your edit

Because you are dealing with large audio/visual files, the likelihood of your computer ‘crashing’ is much higher. Make sure that you save your project file – in the “My Project Folder”, of course – now and at frequent intervals while you are working. It is also a good idea to make back up your work at the end of each session onto a separate hard drive in case of accidental damage. Hard drives are notoriously fragile.

Practical Assignment

Set up your project folder and, using your editing software, transfer your footage from whatever media it was recorded to into that folder ready to edit. Then label your clips with appropriate titles.