Organizing Video


Do Not Rename Camera Filenames

A filename generated by a camera provides valuable information about a video. For example, in a group of video files, you can easily tell that DSC_991.AVI was recorded after DSC_990.AVI, but before DSC_992.AVI, and that it was not recorded on the same camera as VID0005.AVI.

Retaining the filename is part of maintaining the original order, which is important for evidence and contextualization. In addition, some complex video formats rely on the original filename to function properly.

Raw camera footage in its original order.
Raw camera footage in its original order.

What If I Have Duplicate Filenames?

Duplicate filenames can sometimes occur when you acquire raw footage files from different people who use the same camera brand. Rather than renaming the files, organize footage from each source person into a separate folder (see “Folders and Directories” for more on this).

If you must rename your camera files, retain the original filename as part of the new filename.

When to Rename Files

Bad filenames will impede activities like transferring files between systems and backup. You should always rename the file if:

  • The file contains special characters like @#$%&*:”’<>?/\~| that are reserved for filesystem operations.
  • The filename is very long (maximum number of characters depends on the rest of the file path).
  • The filename contains spaces (bad for certain programs and for web).
Examples of bad filenames.
Examples of bad filenames.

How to Name Raw Footage Files

If you need to rename raw footage files:

Refer to the source of the video in the new filename

Include the camera-assigned filename if possible. You can also include the date recorded, location, or videographer name. You can also include any unique identifier provided by the source, such as a YouTube ID if your source is YouTube.

Use a template

Name your files consistently by using a filenaming convention or template. For example, a template like “YouTubeID_DateRecorded_Location” means that you will always name raw footage files with those elements in that order, separated by underscores.

If re-naming, rename files consistently according to a template.
If re-naming, rename files consistently according to a template.

Avoid using “illegal” characters

Characters like @#$%&*:”’<>?/\~| are reserved for filesystem operations. Also avoid overly long file names, and spaces in your filenames.

How to Name Outputted Edited Video Files

Videos that you edit and output from a video editing system need to be given filenames. Give each file a unique name that follows a consistent filenaming template. The components of the filename should help you easily distinguish one output from another, e.g. “ShortTitle_DateOutput_Language” or “ID_ShortTitle_VersionNumber.”

Name edited video files according to a template.
Name edited video files according to a template.

If you are acquiring an edited video from somewhere else, it is generally not necessary to rename the file. While the filename given to an edited file is less significant in terms of original order than a filename assigned to a raw video by a camera, it can still provide evidence of where the edited video came from (e.g. if the filename includes a unique identifier from the source). The only instances when you should rename an acquired edited video file is if the filename contains special characters that can confuse software or operating systems (e.g. ? [ ] / \ = + < > ; : ” , | *), the filename is overly long, or if it contains spaces.

  • Always preserve the original order when naming and organizing your files.
  • Do not rename filenames assigned by a camera.
  • Do not use “illegal” characters such as @#$%&*:”’<>?/~| or spaces in folder or file names.
  • Do not make your folder or filenames overly long (260-character limit on total filepath)
  • Name files consistently by following a template.
  • Use unique identifiers to identify and help organize your files.
  • Use “information packages” to keep media and metadata together.
  • Organize your information packages into directories.
  • Use a media management tool if you need to navigate your collection in more complex ways.
Key Concept: Information Package

Content can be organized into self-describing units of content, called information packages.
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Key Concept: Unique Identifier

Unique identifiers are a helpful organizing tool for identifying items in your collection, and grouping them with or distinguishing them from others.
Read More

Key Concept: Original Order

Videos should be organized in a way that preserves the context of their creation.
Read More

Key Concept: Metadata

Metadata is the basis for organizing your content.
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Key Concept: Findability

Good organization supports navigation and retrieval, and contributes to the findability of an item.
Read More

The Archiving Workflow

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