How-To Edit Collaboratively

Advanced video editing is rarely an isolated process. Edits often pass back and forth between multiple individuals and iterate through many revisions. Benefits to collaborative editing include having an extra opinion, gaining additional technical expertise, and inserting new ideas into a concept. Collaborative editing is encouraged and this guide provides a brief overview of how to optimize a project to share it with others.

Make Backups

When you make a change, back it up. When you add new materials, back them up! When you hand off between editors, back everything up!!

Manage Assets

Label all of your project files, media, recordings, images, slides, etc. with information that helps understand how they go together. Screenshot-1.png, slide-04.pptx, dF23Vnt9.trec, or other non-descript filenames can cause frustration and confusion when trying to manage a project between more than one person. Something like Opening-slide.jpg, Table_3_of_4.pptx, Example_Diagram.png can make it easier to keep track of all the important items. Use folders to group materials together, and when working with multiple projects include something that helps identify all the parts are related to one specific project. If all of the files in a project belong to Week 2 of your course, include “week_2-” at the beginning of every filename in that project. If all of the files belong to a specific course, include the course number in every filename of that project. The scale and scope of each project will determine the level to which you need to label files, but ideally anyone should be able to look at your project and understand how everything fits together logically based on your organization of file structure. The more time you spend organizing your files on the front end the less time you’ll spend in frustration trying to manage them later on.

Version Control

Some software allows you to revisit previous saved versions of the same file but others don’t. If you’re not sure if the system you’re using supports this kind of version control, save each significant edit of the project as a new file and include a date or version number to keep them sorted chronologically. It may be helpful to label the most current version with “CURRENT” or “FINAL” to distinguish it from previous versions or drafts, just remember to remove that information from whatever the previous version was to avoid confusion.

Articulate Comments, Criticisms, and Questions

When working with others on a video project, agree on a plan for sharing feedback. Video is editing requires visually descriptive instructions so many editing systems allow you to include markers, notes, or other elements that can be used to directly annotate a specific portion of the video. Using timecode to suggest exact points on a timeline is also helpful. Make sure commentary is specific to whatever version is currently being revised, and when making references to previous edits include the specific name and version number so everyone involved can easily identify the reference even if they were not part of the editing of a previous version.

Agree On Systems Before You Begin

Small group communication, just like an online course, benefits from setting clear expectations before beginning to work together. Projects occasionally require amendments to these initial agreements, but if everyone involved is in regular communication about realistic commitments then any project can be completed to a sufficient level of quality within certain time constraints. With all of these components in place, you can focus on the creative, pedagogical decisions and worry less about solving preventable technical problems.

Make Backups! (Seriously)

Just to reiterate: A single, extra copy is not a backup. Keeping it on your laptop and and USB flash drive in the same bag is not a backup. If it’s not something you want to create again or are capable of capturing again, back it up! Portable, high capacity storage is continuing to drop in price and secure cloud storage for small to medium sized projects is entirely possible through both Google Drive and, for free!