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If you just want to clean up your AEP project so that only footage used in the project stays in the Project Panel then just use the Reduce function. The collect function has no option to recreate the same folder structure that you have in the AE Project Panel.
If you want to manage the content of your folders by deleting assets then you'll have to use the Collect function and then figure out how to re-arrange your folder structure on your hard drives. I only use the Collect feature when I am delivering a project that has been approved to someone else to work on. If they have access to the original footage I'll let them worry about the duplicates on their own system.
For all of my clients all of the assets (video footage, stills, illustrations, scripts, notes, project management, billing - everything to do with that client) go into specific folders and the original documents and the revised documents are never deleted. I have a carefully designed project numbering and file system that I have used for many years that goes back to my days of working with film. Basically I have folders arranged like this by job number under every client so I can look at my project logs or an invoice or an e-mail with the project number included and go directly to the resources for that job years late.
- Production Notes
- Original footage /Production Date / Scenes
- Intermediates / Scenes
- Rendered Effects / Scenes
- Rendered 3D / Scenes
- Production Date / Scenes
- Scratch Tracks
- Processed Audio / Scenes
- Project Files
- After Effects / Scenes
- Premiere / Scenes
You get the idea. Personally, and I have learned this the hard way, I never intentionally delete any work product or communication that I have used to create any work for any client, I just arrange the files in a way that puts all approved work in the appropriate approved folder and only the client only has access to the approved work.
Thank you for your help, Rick. I admire your organization! I keep old projects until I'm sure they'll never come back, usually about 5 years, but I spend way too much time on file management. You have a very good system, and I know how hard it is to stay organized when work is very busy.
Yes, I am talking about delivering the final project at the end, so need to reduce the actual footage directory, as well. Working with all my footage at the level of my project would be too messy for me. Sounds like the best option for me might be what I've done in the past, which is Collect, then get rid of the extra (footage) folder and re-link footage. I think this might be a feature request for Adobe