“Hurry up and wait” is a familiar phrase in the industry. It usually refers to the shooting process, but if you've involved in both sides of the filmmaking process, you know it very well applies to post-production too. The time it takes to load digital footage, edit, and render it is marked by as much waiting as action.
Much like any process in any industry, taking sensible steps to organize and economize will go a long way in helping you save time and money. Here are a few tips to help save time in the post-production process.
1. Take notes. There's no magic to this one. Take notes when you're filming of things that may help you find them once the footage is uploaded, and log your film in detail once it is in your system. Having the notes will save you the hassle of going through the footage needless times down the line.
2. Skip the import. Use a DSLR! DSLR cameras are revolutionizing the industry in many ways—one of which is eliminating the need to import video footage to your computer in real time. (That is, if you shot eight hours of footage, that's another eight hours of importing it.) With DSLRs, which use memory cards, it's a matter of waiting a few minutes to import the file via USB—or in some cases if the camera has a wifi unit, wireless!
But if you're set on a camera that shoots on digital film like DVCPro or DVCam, you may be able to skip the wait with a handy little intermediary device that acts like a digital recorder. It plugs into your camera and records the footage as you're filming it. When you're finished, it can be imported like you would footage from DSLR. These types of devices are pretty expensive, so if you really want one, renting might be your best bet. An example is the Panasonic FireStore FS-100. (http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-FireStore-Portable-Recorder-FS-100/dp/B000JQE2KO)
3. Organize your assets. Most editing software makes it easy for you to arrange all the “assets” you will need to assemble your project—that is, the video clips, photos, graphics, music, and other media. It provides “bins” or folders for easy access while you're editing. Help yourself further by making sure all of your media is named and labeled in a clear way.
4. Trust your converter. There will always be a need to convert and/or compress your video projects, or portions of them. It's a part of the process that inherently takes time, and you won't be able to avoid it completely. But you can economize by making sure you are using the best digital video converter/compressor that you can find. Find one that's compatible with a wide range of formats. Good (free) bets are MPEG Streamclip and Handbrake.