It used to be that the only creative tool I had was a Pinnacle DVE. It was a digital video effects machine through which you routed video and could create visual effects and transitions. There were a lot of things you could do with it... but most of those things weren't that great so I used just a few. I used the push and slide transitions a lot. I used posterization a bunch. And definitely I used strobe.
And that was it. Other than slow or fast motion on the edit controller side, these were all the tools in my toolbox.
Today, my toolbox overflow-eth. Aside from the native and expansion tools residing in the NLEs I use like Premiere and Media Composer, I also have tools for composing in Ableton Live 11… VST instruments, ARPs, and sound design elements in Omnisphere 2 and its expansion packs… and, for motion design, the native and expansion tools residing in After Effects.
There are so many tools in these various toolboxes that I can hardly remember a tenth of what's in there. What I can use. Right now. This very minute.
Not joking. It's crazy what I've got at my fingertips.
So to make sure I'm not leaning solely on my own memory or my own lazy habits, I keep a list. Not in a spreadsheet, though. I created a PowerPoint-ish presentation that includes an overview of everything and then breaks down the details.
The point of documenting what's in the various toolboxes this way is to force myself to think about the tools, what they do, why I'd use them, as well as to create a naming and/or categorization scheme that makes sense even when I'm in a hurry.
Especially. When I'm in a hurry.
The first slide is like I said. On the video effects side, it's a summary of all the expansion packs I've got under the hood and, in general, what kinds of tasks they cover. Transitions. Filters. Animations. That kind of thing.
Then, each pack has its own slide that breaks down the details of what's in 'em.
It was a bit of work, doing that, to be sure. It was part of my pre-post-production work when I was organizing myself months and months ago. Doing me a huge favor for when I'm up to my neck in a creative brain teaser like I am now.
It's a way for me to not be locked inside my own head, subject only to what I can remember which, let's face it, is less and less with the more tasks I'm juggling at the same time.
So it's a bit of a Get Out Of Mental Jail Free card for when, especially when, I'm racing the clock and need a solution five minutes ago.