Command+Edit Podcast

The post-production podcast that goes beyond the desk


Don't Be a Digital Hoarder : Episode 64

Nick MontgomeryComment
Command Edit Episode 64 Being a digital hoarder and how to properly archive your editing projects for future use

You often organize the clutter around your desk or office, but what about the e-clutter? All of those projects that need archiving, assets that need managing and all of those loose files on your computer that need a home (or the trash).

We invited Rhonda Thain (editor Brother vs Brother, Brothers Take New Orleans, and Fool Canada) to chat about being a digital hoarder at work, never throwing away any old projects or media files in the off chance that one day they will be needed.

If you've ever said to yourself "You never know!" while transferring that FCP7 project from 2003 onto a hard drive to add to the growing stack on your shelves, then this episode is for you.

Check out the Storified version of all of our follower's answers to the question: How do you archive your projects?

Make a KILLER Plan: How to work towards your goal like Riddick

Nick Montgomery3 Comments

Sometimes you can find great life lessons in the story of a brilliant, bloodythirsty killer.

When the sci-fi horror movie Pitch Black came out back in 2000 (holy crap, 16 years?) I was completely man-crushing on Vin Diesel's character of Riddick. If you haven't seen it, think of if Hannibal Lector and the Rock had a baby. A character that could just as easily get inside your head through psychological mind-games as he could with his bare hands.

The newest chapter of the space convict's story (just titled Riddick) came out in 2013 and I fell in love with the character again. It wasn't until I rewatched it recently that I realized why I found the character so appealing and...well...inspiring. (please hold off on alerting the authorities, I'm going somewhere with this and it has nothing to do with murderous tendencies).

Riddick is one of the best troubleshooters and plan-builders ever put to screen.

How he establishes his goal and with laser-like precision and determination sets out to accomplish it is incredibly admirable.

The first act of the movie quickly sets the stage (Riddick is stranded on a desert planet where many of the things there just LOVE to kill anything that moves). He's got to adapt and survive.

He locates an abandoned bunker some distance from him. The only catch: in order to reach it he has to go through a narrow pass between two mountains where a particularly nasty creature resides. Observing how the creature attacks and the deadly venom it uses to take down its prey, he wastes no time in formulating a plan.

Honest to god, the first 30 minutes of this movie are all about Riddick trying to make it to this bunker. There's no dialogue (other than some internal monologue here and there) but you see how he's thinking through his situation.

Set Goal: To survive this sh*t planet of death.

How will I achieve this goal?: By reaching the supply bunker beyond the mountains where Mr. Pinchy lives.

Aww, aren't you so cute!!!

Aww, aren't you so cute!!!


Make Plan: Riddick's got his goal and knows what stands in his way. The creature attacks with a venom that instantly paralyzes its prey. So he captures a baby Mr. Pinchy, takes its venom and microdoses himself with it building an immunity. Problem solved.

Next, he observes how the creature attacks: It distracts/lures with its tail and then SURPRISE leaps out and strikes. So he prepares to lure the creature into attacking him so that he can counter and kill it. Problem solved.

During this sequence, Riddick is thinking of nothing else. There is only one goal on his mind and nothing else distracting him. He is determined in his strategy.

When he goes to confront the creature, he is ready. The creature attacks, he is immune to its venom and Riddick takes it down. After passing safely through the mountains, he reaches the bunker...and then the rest of the story happens. But I'm not going to spoil the whole thing for you here.

It's a glorious payoff moment after seeing him calmly assess his situation, figure out what he needs to do and then puts his plan into motion. And it's so simple.

And not only that, it's only a sub-goal of his for eventually getting off of the planet in one piece. A smaller part of a bigger plan that he broke down into even smaller steps.

How often do you set goals and establish a plan for yourself?

I'm going to guess almost never. Because we all know it's good practice and that we can benefit from it. We've all heard the advice to "write your goals down on paper" because then you'll stick to them. And yet, we almost never take the time to do it.

I'm guilty of this myself. I think of goals in my head which really are more like wishes ("I'm going to run 25km!" or most recently "I'm going to get a job assistant editing on this kickass TV show that I love!") and am getting used to writing them down along with the steps I need to take.

What's keeping you from taking 5 minutes to put your goal to paper?

You've reach the end of this article so you can't blame me for distracting you.

Do it now. Grab the nearest piece of paper and a pen, write down your goal as simply as you can put it, and put that sucker somewhere where you'll see it every day. On the side of your monitor, on your mirror...hell, stick it in your pocket for now.

For extra accountability, post your goal in the comments below. Like Tyler Durden I may check in on you occasionally to see how much progress you've made.

...okay, maybe I've got a problem relating myself to psychotic characters but you gotta admit, they get the job done!

My After Effects Folder Structure

Nick MontgomeryComment
After Effects folder bin structure

There's nothing worse than opening a project setup by someone who had their own unique (read: obscure) way of organizing it, or worse no organization skills whatsoever, and having to untangle the mess that it is before you're able to start working. What's more, that person who last saved the project file and archived it away might have been past-You thinking you were done with the project forever. And now present-You has to recall just how you labelled your bins and comps.

“Dear, Past-You: Don’t be a jerk. Keep your bins organized.
— Future-You

You can save future-You and other post-production folk a lot of that hassle by keeping your bins and comps labelled and organized in a way that makes sense to anyone seeing it for the first time.

Back in Episode 003 we touched on how Josh and myself each have a bin structure that we keep to in order to make sure our project files can be easily re-opened later without wasting time re-familiarizing ourselves.

Above is a screenshot of Nick's bin structure in After Effects. It gets modified depending on the needs of the project, but this is generally how it starts out.

Precomps get bundled in the folder labelled "*precomps" so that they don't get in the way of my main comps. Each main comp gets its own label with a unique, project-specific prefix (usually the first two letters from the production title plus the initials of the director) and a version number. An "Old Comps" folder usually gets created when a lot of new versions are made. That way the old work doesn't mix in with the new work.

Do you organize your projects differently? Leave a comment below describing how.