Video Editing Efficiency: Enhance Your Video Editing Workflow | Ryan Kao | Skillshare

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Video Editing Efficiency: Enhance Your Video Editing Workflow

teacher avatar Ryan Kao, Cinematographer, Video Editor

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Getting Started


    • 3.

      Working With Project Templates


    • 4.

      Sorting Your Footage


    • 5.

      Understanding Hard Drives, Backups, and Storage


    • 6.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Take on any project without the stress by optimizing your project management, folder organization and overall workflow. 

There are a lot of things Ryan Kao wishes he knew before starting his career as a freelance video editor and cinematographer. From learning editing essentials to finding his distinctive visual style to properly managing client projects and marketing himself on social media, developing skills like these have helped Ryan go on to secure opportunities with brands like Nike, Adidas, and IKEA as well as cultivate a community of almost 250K across YouTube and Instagram. 

Now, Ryan wants to share everything he’s learned about project management, staying organized, and how to speed up editing workflow through project templates and presets. In this class, you’ll learn how to optimize your data management, create a cohesive folder structure, and gain more confidence in your overall editing workflow. 

With Ryan as your teacher, you’ll:

  • Organize and name incoming media with a strong folder structure
  • Set up and organize your footage 
  • Understand how the benefits of cloud storage and hard drives
  • Move through large quantities of data with ease

Plus, Ryan will share a downloadable version of his folder structure so you can use it the next time you need to organize incoming media. 

Basic video editing knowledge and experience will be helpful when taking the class. You’ll need your computer to get started as well as any hard drives or video content to practice with. You can also bring pen and paper to take notes. Learn more about video editing in Ryan’s full Learning Path.

Meet Your Teacher

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Ryan Kao

Cinematographer, Video Editor


Ryan Kao is a cinematographer and video editor based in Los Angeles. What started as a simple childhood hobby over 15 years ago has grown into a thriving and transformative career as a full-time freelancer in the video industry. With cinematography and post-production work ranging from commercial, documentary, and narrative pieces. He is proud to say that his work has taken him all over the world. Making and learning from mistakes along the way has allowed him to discover some unique perspectives and strategies over the years. He's also been so honored to share his knowledge and experiences on YouTube with an audience of over 200,000 subscribers. This creative community has fueled his career beyond anything he could ever imagine possible, and he's beyond excited to share even more with ... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction: Project management dealing with hard drives, dealing with footage, you're going to do it at every level no matter what type of editor you are. Having a sense of knowing where everything is can often boost your creativity and spark an inspiration that you will organically find when working through footage. My name is Ryan Kao. I'm a freelance video editor and cinematographer based here in Los Angeles. You may have seen some of my work on YouTube, but I have a channel talking a lot about filmmaking and my journey in being a freelancer in this industry. I do a lot of branded commercial work for companies like Nike, Jordan, Adidas, and have more recently been stepping into the narrative space, doing some full length documentaries and short films. In today's class, I want to cover topics like folder organization and the importance of having a cohesive structure. Project templates and presets that can help speed up your editing workflow and give you guys a better understanding of hard drives and the importance of data management for a long term and reliable workflow. To take you through this class, I want to dive into some of my folder structure. We'll also be diving into my video editing program to show a little bit of how we set up and organize footage in a real scenario. What I hope that you're able to walk away with after completing this class is more confidence in your digital workflow with video editing. So no matter what's thrown at you, even a project from a client with 10 terabytes of footage, you can take it on without having to be stressed. If you're somebody who just got started and you're trying to figure out the ropes or if you're somebody who's been doing this for 15 years, but maybe you're a little disorganized when it comes to sorting and managing of your data. This class is for you. Couldn't be more excited to share this information with you guys. I sure wish I had it when I first started video editing. Let's jump in. 2. Getting Started: Okay, here we are. Welcome to what is definitely a much cleaner and more visually appealing version of what my editing bay would kind of look like. We've got all of our hard drives here. We're going to go through some of our project organization techniques. Here we go. When I first began my video-editing journey, my workflow looked kind of something like this. I would get a project or go out and shoot some footage, and then dump all of that media into a random folder somewhere on my hard drive. From there, I would take all of that content, bring it in to my editor, drop it in the bins, and more often than not, I probably wouldn't have much of a plan or an understanding for what was going to happen with that footage. I'd basically just begin opening it up in the source viewer, setting those in and out points of what looked good, and dragging those onto the timeline. After a while, kind of just end up with this big disorganized mess of random clips, and sometimes from there, maybe I'd have an idea of what to do, sometimes maybe I wouldn't. It just became a game of LEGOs. Either you have to go back and find another clip, you go into your bins, you set another in and out point, drag more clips in, rinse and repeat. Not only is this a painfully slow way to edit, but it can also hold you back from being a more creative editor with essentially just a lack of visibility at all of the media within your project. Keeping all of your video-editing projects, not only organized but accessible and in a non-destructive workflow is something that can help you to not only reduce the amount of stress you get from editing, but make you more creative. Back in 2019, there was an editing project that came across my plate, that was with probably one of the most substantial names that I would have worked with at that time. I was co-editing a documentary piece for IKEA in partnership with the World Surf League. Super ambitious project, super exciting to be involved in something like this. I received a hard drive with over eight terabytes of media. I had to pick up the pieces from a past editor that had worked on the project. I didn't really understand a thorough editing workflow, I didn't really understand project organization and media management, so trying to jump into that project and catch my bearings, even get started editing, my timeline, which should have been maybe a day or two to get my feet moving and really start working on what the clients needed, I took almost a week to figure out how to even begin tackling those edits. I almost lost this project. I had to work my way through some pretty unfortunate excuses with a client, which is absolutely something you never want to have to deal with. In this class, what I hope to leave you guys with is a better understanding of project organization, how to go about organizing your projects in a way that can speed up your workflow and ultimately make you a more versatile editor. In order for you guys to follow along here, no need to worry about digging up all of your hard drives. What I want to do is walk you guys through some of my folder organization structures that I use to set up every project from scratch. I even want to take you guys through setting up some project templates, some presets for your editor. Now that we understand some of the importance behind project organization and project management, let's jump in to talking over some of my folder organization and structure, and even setting up some editing templates within your editor. 3. Working With Project Templates: Project templates are like the backbone to a good workflow as a video editor. They're so important for the reason that it allows you to create a routine with how you approach each project. The more you can automate these kind of boring and somewhat repetitive steps and have a system that you can rely on and be able to understand at a glance for every project, the more you're going to be able to focus on the important part, which is being a creative editor. Setting up these project templates happens at a couple of different levels. I think the most important one to start with is at the root, the footage and how it lives on your hard drive, and how you organize and label all of the media that you're going to bring in to start a new project. Look, I'm fully aware that everybody's going to have slightly different terms or visual things that will help keep their brain organized. But I want to share with you guys my project folder structure that I use for every project and how I organize all of my hard drives. On the root of my hard drive, whenever I start a new project, I've created a folder structure template and I use this to basically, as soon as I get a new project on my plate, I can then duplicate this folder, rename it with the date of the project as well as the title of the project. Once we dive into the folder, I think you'll understand a little bit more how this all works. You'll notice that at the prefix of all of these folders that we have set up, I've put numbers. I do this because, by default, a lot of the times the finder window or the File Explorer that you're using on your computer will sort folders, usually alphabetically. Adding in numbers to the prefix can help you to place them in an order that makes sense to your brain, so you can immediately look at them at a glance without having to read through in the random alphabetical sorting order. I start with timelines here at the top, and within this folder is where we would place our project files, our timeline files, maybe even XMLs. If you have a specific project template that you want to use for specific projects, for instance, the parent folder that I'm within here is for my YouTube projects that I work on regularly, I might place my YouTube editing timeline preset in here. From there, we have footage. I regularly work with footage from different cameras and so I've created some preset folders, one for Sony A7IV, FX3, iPhone. If you are working on projects that you regularly have footage from a variety of different cameras, you can get as in-depth as you want here to keep those folders contained and organized. So at a glance, you can know if I need to go back into that project from 2022, I can go into that footage folder, go into the iPhone clips and find the media that you need. From there, we have a folder for music, one for sound effects, one for assets, things like graphics or logos that might come from a client, and finally, one for the exports or the renders that you'll have out of a project. Using a system like this creates not only a better sense of organization in the moment when you're working on a project. But like I mentioned, if you ever have to go back and dig through the archives of finding a clip that you used in a project three years ago, it all would stay in a similar order and fashion, making it just that much easier for you to find clips, but also for you to explain it to another editor that might work on a project where to find that media. I fully recognize that everybody's going to have different terminology or orders in which things might make sense to their brain. But if you guys want, I'll actually have my folder structure available for you guys to download and use for setting up your own projects. I get it, to some of you, it may seem a little bit overkill to be this organized and individual with how you just store the footage on your hard drive. But the real major benefit here is that we can translate this basically exact folder structure into our editor, and it's going to make it so much simpler for us to organize and find that media within a project rather than having to dig through all of those bins and try and figure out where that random clip was that you downloaded a year ago. We're here inside of DaVinci Resolve. This is what I primarily used to edit. But I want to talk about here today in setting up these project templates, it's universal with whatever you're using if you're a premiere user or your final cut. I've opened a blank project, and the first thing I want to do to get started in setting up this template for us for future projects, is beginning to organize our bins. I talked a bit about how our folder structure is important and how it can mirror inside of our editor. What we can do is literally just go and duplicate all of the naming in the order that we had within that folder. Our first folder we would do 01_ Timelines. Second folder we could do 02_Footage. Third, music, sound effects, assets, and finally our exports. Great, now it just seems like we have an exact copy of the bins inside of our editor versus what we have in our folders. But the benefit to this is so powerful because it's going to make it so easy for you to, at a glance, immediately go, be able to track down a piece of content you need for your project without having to overthink it. The next thing to consider here when you're setting up these project templates is to set up some timelines. If you're regularly working on projects where you're dealing with vertical resolutions, maybe you're delivering for social media content, some mobile videos. Then set up some timelines specifically in that vertical aspect ratio. We can go here and let's do 1080*1920, or 9*16 if we're doing Instagram reels, TikToks, that sort of a thing. Set up your frame rate, make sure that your color settings are all correct. Just make sure that you set this up in a way that is consistent that you want to be utilizing for all of your projects for this particular type of edit. From here, you could also bring in any assets that you're going to be using on a regular basis. Maybe you have a client that uses a similar set of songs for their product videos that you're editing. You can bring those songs in now to save yourself the step of having to do it later when you set up this project again, logos, assets, sound effects. If you're using things on a regular basis, you can bring them in here. Again, we're just saving this as a template, a starting place that you'll duplicate at the start of each new edit. You can get as in-depth and creative as you want with these templates. If you're somebody who's working on a ton of different types of video formats, you're delivering widescreen stuff for YouTube, You're working on commercials. You're also working on that vertical short form content. Save yourself some time and set up templates for each of those and bring in all of those assets that you're going to be using on a regular basis. This is going to help you to automate so many of those just small routine procedural steps, that again, will allow us to focus more on the creativity behind the editing and less of those just like mundane routine steps. Now that we understand how to set up these project templates, let's dive into how to start using them and how to begin organizing your footage from a high level. 4. Sorting Your Footage: Now that we've gone through a little bit about our project organization in the folders themselves and also inside of your editor, let's jump in to, in my mind, one of the most important procedures as an editor, and it's sorting and organizing your footage within that project. Sorting and organizing your footage is something that's probably going to be a little bit different for every editor out there. But I want to quickly go back and talk a bit about that first workflow that I had, and I personally know a lot of entry level editors doing, and it's going into your bins, just clicking into the source viewer, setting those in and out points, dragging those clips onto a timeline. What's a huge drawback to this approach is that, in a way, each time you set an in and out point on a clip, let's say you drop in one version and then you have to go back and pull another selection of that clip, you're overriding that selection. You don't have a tracked reference of this was the in and out point I used at this portion versus this was the in and out point that I used for this next portion. This is what we would refer to as a destructive workflow. You can't go back and track your original edits that you might have made earlier in your project. In a past class, we talked about a few technical definitions that editors should know, one of which being selects and another being string outs. These are an incredibly commonly used practice in a professional editing workflow, and so I want to take you guys through a bit about my process and how I set up those selects timelines and build string outs. Let's go ahead and start by diving in here and bringing some footage into our project. I'm going to go ahead and pull up a past project that I shot for a client earlier this year. Within my footage folder, you can see I've labeled camera A, camera B, and drone. We'll highlight all of these and drag them in to our footage bin inside of DaVinci Resolve, and we have them nicely organized still in A, B, and C. Great. Now we're here. Our footage is in our editor and we can begin footage sorting. This is a process that is referred to as calling or pulling selects of footage. We talked a little bit about just how inefficient it can be to double click onto the clip, set some in and out points of the usable portion, and then dragging that into your timeline. What we should instead do is highlight all of our footage and bring it all into a single timeline. We'll get everything from camera A onto this timeline. From here, instead of doing those in and out points, we can still set those in and out points, but we'll do that by cutting the clip at the section that we want to utilize. Let's maybe go here. This is a nice whip transition into the frame. Stop it just before the motion starts again. From here, all we do is just drag that clip up to our second video track. Once we do this for a complete project, what you'll end up with is a timeline where all of the master original footage is living on video layer 1 and your selects, your cut portions of each clip that are usable shots, are all going to be on video layer 2. Then it's easy enough to just simply go in copy everything on video layer 2 to a new timeline and there you go. You have a selects timeline of all of your footage. To save you some time of watching me go through and cut up selects for an entire days worth of footage, we're jumping into an active project that I have here. What we're looking at is a timeline for a trailer of a documentary I've been working on, an athlete taking on a world first attempt at completing seven triathlons in seven continents in seven consecutive days. Yeah, sounds a little crazy on the surface, and you could probably imagine the footage to go along with that project, pretty substantial. We're talking multiple terabytes, multiple cameras rolling, pretty much the entire seven days, well, maybe nine or 10 days if we're counting on the front and back end. But arriving to this place, this trailer that has so many different clips and video layers going on, how do we start that process? How do we sort and organize all of that footage? If we go up into our timelines bin, we can see we have master timelines and selects timelines, and let's pop into master day 1. What we're going to be looking at here is essentially all of the footage laid in to this big timeline. As you can see, we have everything living on video layer 1 and 2. These are the selects that I pulled from the original raw footage. I've also color coded the clips based on what camera they came from. I think we had four camera sources these days. At the end of going through all of this footage, watching through, playing back and selecting the best clips, dragging them up onto video layer 2, what we're left with is a broad view that's very easy for us to go back and track down certain clips. Maybe let's say we're beginning to build out a timeline from these selects. Let's look at the selects timeline that we've created, which is basically just again a duplicated timeline with only the selected video clips that we had on video layer 2. Now, as you can see, this is a much friendlier looking timeline. Definitely a lot less intimidating and a little easier for us to wrap our brain around when beginning to build an edit with all of this footage. The benefit to a workflow like this is as we begin pulling these clips into our active timeline, call it our V1 of the project or the edit that we're going to make with this footage. If we found that one clip didn't quite work, maybe it was a word that got cut off at the end or there was maybe a certain camera movement that didn't quite work in the flow and style of your edit, it's super easy to go back to that original master timeline, find where you had made the cut in that original video clip, and just really quickly adjust and pull up a new select to bring into your edit. This is, again, a non-destructive workflow. It allows for a seamless way for you to go from even the final stages of your edit and go back and reference the things that you did in the very beginning of the project preparation. This is a workflow that is pretty standard in most professional editing workflows and is something that if you adopt now will make you a better editor with more freedom to be able to explore your footage without the stress of not knowing where things are and how to go and sort through and organize your footage if client calls for maybe a different clip, but it also will help translate to working better with other editors, because this is a process that, while some editors might have their minor differences and tweaks how they approach these, have universal principles that work across any editing workflow. 5. Understanding Hard Drives, Backups, and Storage: So in this lesson, I think we need to talk a little bit about an important critical component of any digital workflow, especially if you're a video editor, then you're probably familiar with these things. Hard drives, you can't really live without them. There are so many different types nowadays, you have these traditional spinning hard drives. I think a lot of us will also be familiar with SSDs, as these are a very commonly used tool nowadays, especially in a video editing workflow. But overall, as editors, we should be fluent in understanding why hard drives are important, what types you should be using, how to go about backing up and managing all of that data, where to keep it, how to use Cloud storage. These are all components of video editing that you absolutely need to have a firm understanding of in order to develop a successful relationship with freelancing in video editing. Hard drives, while a universal term, definitely shouldn't be confused with solid-state drives, which fundamentally they are the same thing, a device that can store data. But there's some pretty critical differences that as editors we should understand and that will impact our workflow. A hard drive actually has a mechanical spinning disc on the inside of it. That's the reason they're a little bit bigger and bulkier than something like a solid-state drive, which are usually small, they're pocketable. This particular brand we'll see, it's got this orange bumper around it. They're great and you could kind of say they're robust but because there are mechanical spinning parts inside of this drive, the chance that this could be damaged if it was dropped is pretty high unfortunately. Also just simply due to the fact that there are spinning, moving things on the inside of this drive, the chance of this device just failing over time is high as well. SSDs, they have no moving parts inside of them. It's much more akin to something like the memory that's inside of your phone or an SD card for that matter. It's usually a lot more reliable. It's pretty unlikely to receive any damage if it was dropped and the huge benefit to these devices, they're a lot faster. Hard drive speeds are an incredibly important thing in a video editing workflow. As we work with different types of footage, you're going to find that some footage needs a much higher read and write speed on your device in order to edit smoothly. Some people deal with choppy editing workflows when they're working on a new project and sometimes that can be related to your computer and its performance and hardware inside of it. But more often than not, it's because you're trying to work with footage off of too slow of a hard drive. It essentially has a bottleneck with the read speed that it's able to feed into your editor and therefore that footage might not be able to play back 100% smoothly as you're working with it. Working off SSDs not only is safer and more reliable in the long-term but will speed up your workflow without creating any of those bottlenecks. Now that's not to say though that these hard drives don't still have their place. In particular, with a lot of my projects, what I like to do when I'm working with the client is ask that they deliver me the footage on an SSD. This is usually what I'll work with off of for the project itself. But I will also ask if possible, that they send a hard drive like this that I can duplicate that footage and have a backup of. Backups are the next really important thing that we need to understand a bit about as editors. Backups, I'm sure we're all pretty familiar with the concept. I got to be honest here I can't be the only one in saying that, like you kind of have the mindset of, I don't need to back things up. It's never happened to me before. I've never lost footage off a hard drive. That was me until maybe about five years ago. I had a huge hard drive, eight terabytes of some of my personal data in a desktop editing computer I was using for a good portion of the early years in my career. Lo and behold, one day I was moving around some of those hard drives inside of the computer and fried that entire eight terabyte hard drive. That ended up being an $800 mistake and from that point on, the importance of backups have become paramount in my workflow. Even if you're working on a project of your own footage or you're working on a project for clients at the minimum, having at least just one copy of that footage as a backup to make sure that if you by chance user error, accidentally delete some of the footage or something happens out of your control, someplace burns down and your hard drive was there, maybe it gets stolen you got to protect yourself in those cases. Sometimes a client will have backups of footage already done and if they ship you a hard drive or you download it off of a Cloud storage or something along those lines, you won't really have to worry about this. But it's always an important thing to ask a client if they're sending you a drive, hey, do you have a backup of this footage or do I need to back it up for you? If so, can you send me a hard drive? We have to face it though hard drives can be expensive. If you're working on your own personal projects you might not necessarily have the extra money to be able to go buy a backup hard drive for all of your content. Cloud storage is a really great option. There's a variety of different platforms out there. Of course, you know, we have Google Drive and Dropbox. But there's also some even more affordable programs that can simply back up your drives without the need for direct Cloud access. One that I regularly use for my work is Backblaze. They offer a really simple subscription price with a pretty much unlimited data storage. The caveat though, is that you can't easily access that footage on your device or wherever you go, in the same way that a platform like Google Drive works. But if we're talking about a freelance video editing workflow, having a routine of backing up footage is just one way we can establish a solid, bulletproof workflow that will keep us organized and keep our clients happy in the long run. Hopefully, that gives us a little bit more of an understanding about the importance and kind of the differences between hard drives in a video editing workflow. 6. Final Thoughts: We've made it through our project organization class and I hope that everyone was able to learn a little bit more on how to approach organization and the importance of creating a strong workflow and understanding of how to deal with all of that media on your hard drives and maybe just understand a little bit more why certain hard drives work better for certain types of things. I'm excited to see some of your project templates and folder structures in the project gallery if you're up for sharing them. Again, if you would like to use my folder structure that we talked through today, that will of course be available for you to download. But thanks for joining me on this class. I hope to see you in the next one.