Staying Organized — a Project Folder Structure

We can all agree that on projects, digital or otherwise organization is an essential part of working efficiently

A motion graphics project can very quickly amass a huge amount of assets — reference images, storyboards, client files, PSD's, AE projects, textures, footage, image sequences, audio, fonts, and then multiple incremental versions and revisions of each.

Sometimes you can be surprised by the complexity of a project, maybe you didn't realize you'd need a 3D scene or that there would be a 30 and 60 second version of the video. At this point, your assets are in use and you can't move the files or they'll go missing from your projects.

And then inedibly, another freelancer is brought in to "help out", and now the constant "where's the logo?" starts...

 

Are you frustrated yet?


I like my garage's workbench like I like my folder structure.

I like my garage's workbench like I like my folder structure.

Here's a better way: A standardized project folder structure that is well organized, clearly named and easily navigable. 

Click through the image to download a zip of this empty folder structure, ready to use in your next motion project.

Click through the image to download a zip of this empty folder structure, ready to use in your next motion project.

I've basically stolen this concept from years of freelancing at studios far more organized than myself, and here's why it's so good: 

Order

It's chronological. The first step in the project is gathering references – "00_Reference". Next, previz – "01_Development",  followed by After Effects an project – "03_Projects", etc. As the project progresses you'll naturally work your way down the folder structure from 00_ to 11_. 

Naming

The "##_Name" folder naming convention may seem strange at first, but get used it, the order of your folders is now controlled by logic, not where their letters fall in the alphabet. 

Hierarchy

"Where's the latest render?" How many times have you be asked that? Well, with this setup, there's only one place for it to be: "08_Output". Inside that, I suggest folders organized by date, and with clearly name files, you'll be every project manager's best friend. 

Instructions for use:

  1. *Important* As soon as the project begins, get this set of folders in place.
  2. Put assets where they belong. Discuss with coworkers where files should be, make sure everyone understands the setup. Don't be afraid to tweak or simplify the folders to suit your needs.
  3. Repeat. Make a habit of staying organized. 

Download the folder structure here: SAMPLE PROJECT STRUCTURE