JANUARY 30, 2024

Mastering the Video Editing Workflow: A Complete Guide

A well-organized video editing workflow is the bedrock of all modern content creation efforts, but it’s especially important if timely output is your goal. It’s all about finding the steps and procedures needed to efficiently transform recorded footage into a cohesive final product.

While this may sound simple on paper, there are numerous moving parts and details to consider. Video editing can be extremely time-consuming and sometimes tedious, especially if the team is unorganized. The bottom line is that you need a cogent plan in place if you hope to get any projects done in a reasonable timeframe. Your workflow is the key to keeping up with projects of any size. Knowing what to do and when to do it will dramatically cut down on the confusion as you enter the hectic period right before deadlines.


Having a video editing workflow can help ensure that your project doesn’t fall behind as more material comes in. As is common, the longer a project goes on, the more moving parts you will have to deal with. Recorded footage piles up quickly, and new staff may be brought on depending on how the work progresses; with this, a stable workflow is the only way to keep all these disparate elements organized and moving in the same direction.

  • Streamline the creative process - The initial stages of creativity should be left open to new ideas and experimental concepts. However, as production begins in earnest, creatives should have some structure to keep efficiency high for the duration of a project. A streamlined workflow will cut down on the amount of wasted time deciding what to do as new challenges arise.
  • Meet deadlines - Cutting down on wasted time means fewer requests to push back project milestones. If a team builds momentum via a coherent workflow, estimated deadline targets become far more feasible to hit.
  • Maximize resources - When teams grow to massive sizes, the amount of work and assets produced is exponentially higher. Chances are some people's hard work will be cut from the final project to keep it in line with the original vision from pre-production. Cutting content that people were paid to produce wastes a great deal of resources. By establishing a workflow that everyone follows, employees save time and the company saves money.
  • Reduce stress on you and your team - The threat of missing deadlines or having hard work stripped from a project is enough to make some teams deteriorate due to stress. To ensure everyone can perform at optimal levels, introduce a workflow to eliminate the above stressors from the equation.


When introducing a workflow into your production setup, an easy way to get everyone on board is to present the new methods in a series of steps. Breaking your workflow down into simple steps will help your team adapt to the changes that will inevitably occur.

Pre-Production Planning

A clear plan sets the stage for efficient video editing no matter how big a project becomes. The need for thorough pre-production planning is increasingly obvious when a team fails to set a good foundation before editing, and the group responsible for pre-production should excel in topics such as scriptwriting or storyboarding. A shot list specialist will also come in handy on many occasions. Finally, taking some extra time on this crucial first leg of the journey will make the entire project flow noticeably smoother.

Organizing Your Media Assets

It’s important to focus on organizing media assets as they come in. How you manage video clips, audio files, graphics overlays, and other project files will determine how fast your team can move. If something is not put in a designated place every time, you can expect a lot of time wasted searching for missing assets. A couple of seconds dedicated to organizational work can save minutes of scouring through entire project directories later on.

Key Points to Asset Organization

  • Efficient file naming - Deciding on a universal name format for every file belonging to a project is a logical place to start; furthermore, choosing a simple structure, such as capitalizing the first letter of each word, is easy to remember and allows others to find the right items with ease. Shorter names are also preferred, as they can be easily read inside a folder without needing to mouse over the icon in question.
  • Folder structuring - A carefully placed web of folders is the ideal way to make navigating large project libraries feasible. But find the right balance — there’s no need to go overboard with too many subfolders that confuse and slow down the process. Always make new folders for each new asset type, and place additional folders in those for further organizational categories. Tasks like this would benefit from the aforementioned naming structure to cut down on wasted time.
  • Backup procedures - The proprietary data of both released and unreleased projects are highly valuable for any video production outfit, and the workflow should always include a method for backing up this sensitive data. Physical devices, such as hard drives and memory sticks, are suitable for private data. Meanwhile, backing files up with a cloud solution makes them easier to access but also much easier to steal. It’s important to consider what your project needs to be successful, so consider how you store these files carefully.

The Editing Phase

The meat and potatoes of any video project is the editing phase. Again, taking a look at the individual aspects of this step of the workflow will make it easier to see how editing works in an efficient setup.

  • Importing media - There are many ways to import media into your project, but knowing which programs and file extensions to use beforehand will get the editing process off to the right start. With a bit of research, you can pick software that is compatible with all the file extensions you are using.
  • Assembling a rough cut - Once the footage is successfully imported, it can be arranged to start crafting the outlines of a story with each clip being carefully examined to see if it is usable. Some footage may also stay in if it can be modified enough to suit the purpose of the film.
  • Fine-tuning the narrative - In the same way that rough drafts of written works get polished to a fine sheen, the rough cut of a video is gradually transformed into a professional piece worthy of being called the final product. This process starts by finalizing the narrative elements and ensuring each clip is in the correct order on the timeline.

The above steps are best achieved using video editing software that can facilitate all the techniques used in the creative process. Robust tools such as Avid's Edit on Demand provide both video editing functionality and features that help streamline a team's workflow.

Finalization and Export

While you are almost done, there are still a few more tasks to take care of before wrapping up. This process of going over the entire project, making final changes, and one last pass is known as finalization, which can cover an array of edits.

  • Color grading - The narrative can be further enhanced by altering the tone and mood of each scene. Colors are one way to achieve desired emotional effects, so scenes are carefully graded with specific hues to elicit the intended response in audiences.
  • Audio mastering - Another simple way to influence an audience's emotions is with sound and music. Each sound source must be carefully synced up with the timing and volume of the rest of the scene to maximize the impact of each audio cue.
  • Export settings - When exporting a video project, the key is to think about all the formats and storage solutions it needs to be compatible with. Video formats and resolutions make playback on popular devices possible. Compression lowers image quality though uncompressed files may prove too cumbersome to reliably upload to all your social media channels. It may take some experimenting to strike the perfect balance of quality and compatibility. When targeting a specific video platform, researching their recommended export settings can save you some headaches.

Once again, post-production software tools are the most straightforward way to achieve a polished and professional result.


After your workflow is established, there are still a few ways to optimize how efficiently your operation runs. Team chemistry should be built up, and simple tasks can be automated to keep everyone engaged with more critical matters.

Collaboration and Communication

Have you noticed that your team has difficulty with editing collaboration and communication? Do you everything you can to right the ship before it’s too late. A team that mostly gets along and knows how to resolve the occasional dispute will go much further than a team bogged down by infighting.

To help everyone come together, introduce tools or strategies for enhancing teamwork and feedback exchange. For example, mediation from a neutral third party can quickly resolve disputes. Should an argument pervade throughout the whole studio, having an objective way to resolve issues beforehand is key. This can come in the form of giving an executive team member the final say or anything else a team decides to keep the peace.

Workflow Automation

Video editing and post-production work include some tedious and repetitive tasks that an automated system could perform with ease. When possible, it is always a good idea to automate such tasks via AI or other clever software integrations. In doing so, team members can focus on other tasks that are more complex or cannot be done with automation.


No matter the size and scope of your video production team, an efficient workflow is a noticeable upgrade that overhauls the entire creative process. With that said, every studio looks different and has unique objectives. It is vital to tweak the process to meet your company's specific needs.

The sheer utility of a custom workflow is why you need a robust yet flexible video editing application like Avid Media Composer. While many programs help you edit footage to your heart's content, Avid offers bundles that include everything you need to expertly edit footage, establish an efficient workflow, and then customize it to fit the unique shape of your team. Implementing a new workflow will take some effort, but software such as Media Composer will make the transition as easy as possible.


[1] https://www.technology.org/how-and-why/what-is-social-media-algorithm/

[2] https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/color-theory

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