What it Means to Streamline Post-Production with an EDL


Post-production isn’t always a walk in the park. Sometimes, it’s a laborious odyssey across a sea of RAW footage, audio mishaps, and looming deadlines. 

Even though pre-production and production are critical stages in the process, post-production is the time when everything truly comes together. Re-shoots are rarely possible and time is usually limited at this point, so it’s up to you to edit together a great final product with the materials you already have. 

The best way to do this consistently from project to project is to develop better and more streamlined systems for post-production.

Whether you’re making a film, brand video, podcast, or other project, one resource that you can use throughout post-production is an edit decision list (or EDL). Let’s break down what that list is and how it’s beneficial to freelance editors and creative teams. 

What is an edit decision list (or EDL)?

An edit decision list (EDL) is an ordered breakdown of all of the video and audio clips used in a media project. 

This list can be something you manually chart out in the early stages of post-production when deciding which clips are needed and which ones aren’t. (Think of it as the post-production version of a shot list for production.)

However, an EDL can also be exported digitally and directly from your video editing software. This makes it easy to obtain and share a digital log of all of your project’s timecode data without having to manually track all of that information. 

Both versions of an EDL can be extremely useful to video editors when sorting through RAW footage, working toward the final edit, and collaborating with other professionals. The rest of this guide will outline exactly why and how.

How to make a physical EDL

Once production wraps, documents like the shot log and script help to guide the entire editing process. With all of this information and shot media in tow, you can draft up an EDL to better visualize and chart your next steps in post-production.

There are few different steps you can take to write this initial analog version of an EDL:   

1. Start with a basic framework.

When it comes to EDLs, you’ve got options. You can create one from scratch using a word processor like Microsoft Excel or download a template from Google search results. This type of document is highly customizable, but there are a few key elements that are included in most EDLs.

Project name

Organization is crucial, so even though this is a very obvious element to include in an EDL, it’s needed here in writing nonetheless. Especially when you’re working on multiple projects at once or collaborating with other people, this eliminates any risk of confusion right away.

Media source

A “Media Source” section helps you keep track of where each video and audio clip is coming from. That way, if you make visual effects in After Effects and record the project’s soundtrack in Pro Tools, you can log all of this information in the EDL. 

Time codes

Another essential part of every EDL is the timecode breakdown. This section is where you chart the start and end time of each clip, which makes finding and editing those clips easier for your entire post-production team.  

Shot type

One of the best ways to create more distinction between audio and video clips is to include a section where you list out the shot type. For example, you can list out which clip is an establishing shot, extreme close up, tracking shot, etc. You can also make note of when a clip is exclusively audio.


While file names and timecodes are useful, this alone doesn’t give you any context about what’s actually going to happen on-screen. By including a “Description/notes” section, you can briefly explain what each clip consists of and then add any extra details.


One last detail that’s great to include in an EDL is a transition description. As you move from clip to clip, it’s helpful to make note of how these clips should come together on your editing timeline — whether that’s a subtle blur transition or no transition at all. 

2. Perfect the system as you go.

If you have an EDL template that works for you, by all means stick with it. Just know that you can always modify your lists to include more or less sections depending on your post-production needs. 

For example, if you’re working in podcast production, you’ll probably forgo the “Shot type” section altogether unless you’re filming a video version of the podcast.  

What ultimately matters is that your EDLs make your job in post-production easier, not harder. So with that being said, take the creative liberties you need to customize your lists and log all of the most relevant information for your team.

3. Make EDLs for short- and long-form projects.

There is no rule that EDLs should only be used for films and other long-form projects. Anytime that post-production is involved, you can create an EDL to plan out the entire editing process and then log the changes you make later on. 

So if you’re editing a 15-minute YouTube video and multiple 30-second social media videos to promote this content, you can absolutely create separate EDLs for each video. The more organized your post-production process is, the more streamlined it will be.  

Why digital EDLs are so valuable

An EDL can certainly be a document that you create yourself and reference throughout post-production. But thanks to modern technology, you also have the option to track and export EDLs directly from a video editing software like Premiere Pro or DaVinci Resolve. 

The main reason why this type of digital EDL is valuable to video editors is that it allows for seamless collaboration. If you’re editing shot footage while someone else creates the visual effects, you can export your EDL so that the person you’re collaborating with knows exactly how their visual effects should fit into the project.

Not only that, but EDLs are compatible across many different types of software. So you could edit a video on Premiere Pro and share your EDL with someone who’s exclusively working on DaVinci Resolve. 

No matter what project you’re working on next, it’s never a bad idea to use both of these types of EDLs to help structure post-production and collaborate more efficiently. In all of its forms, an EDL is one type of resource that can help improve your editing workflow in a significant way. 

Mackenzie is a copywriter at Soundstripe, a stock music company that provides filmmakers, creators, and advertisers with SFX and royalty free music for Instagram (and many more genres).