What is the best way to organize Final Cut files?
There are lots of different ways to organize a project. This is my system. It works for me. And, if you don’t already have a system, this will work for you, too.
If you are serious about your editing, you’ll have at least two hard drives: one for the operating system and Final Cut Pro (called the “Boot Disk”) and a second hard disk to hold all your media.
As we quickly move into tapeless media, we need to add a third option: where to store the original source files that were first recorded to cards.
CRITICAL NOTE: Video files are gigantic. So big, in fact, that you can not successfully edit video using only one hard drive. You must have at least two — one solely to store media. This media drive can be either an internal or external drive. It can NOT be a partitioned drive. Also, USB drives are too slow on the Macintosh to store media. Make sure your drive connects via FireWire or SATA.
Here’s an article that discusses hard drive speeds and video formats.
On your boot disk, create a folder called, “FCP Projects.” This folder will hold all your non-timecode-based project files. I recommend storing this at the top level of my boot disk; don’t store this inside your Home directory.
Inside the FCP Projects folder, I create a folder for each new project that I create. Inside this project folder are all the elements I need for my project; except timecoded media. That goes onto the second drive.
IMPORTANT NOTE: As we move to larger and larger RAIDs and high-speed networks, the question arises where to store project data. In point of fact, you can store project data anywhere. I recommend keeping it organized in a project folder. Whether you store that on your boot drive, or on a second drive, or on a server, is your choice. In the past I’ve recommended the boot drive because it clarifies the difference between project data and media. On my current editing system I store project data on one drive, not the boot drive, and media on a fast RAID. Keeping these files separate is a good organizational tool. But they need not necessarily be stored on the boot drive.
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