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Old June 18th, 2016, 09:57 AM   #1
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Any Recommendations for Cataloging Footage?

I'm assuming many of you shoot a wide variety of locations, seasons, setups, times-of-day, species, different generations within the same species, etc.

How do you keep track of it all?
Any cataloging software you'd care to recommend?

Or have you developed other strategies (e.g. Prelude, Excel, pen-and-paper, etc.)?
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Old June 18th, 2016, 07:15 PM   #2
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Re: Any Recommendations for Cataloging Footage?

I asked this question 6 years ago, and got no replies...
Let me tag yours, and see if anyone has a suggestion
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Old June 18th, 2016, 10:46 PM   #3
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Re: Any Recommendations for Cataloging Footage?

Mac or PC?

I am a corporate guy, and (luckily) everything I shoot fits into this drive hierarchy:

Client Name/Year/Project/Cam#



At my previous job (7 years ago), I was in charge of archive footage for the production/promotions department of a TV station. I was replacing a system where we literally had a wall of beta tapes with masking tape on the spine that said stuff like "cops" or "bridges" or "medical" or whatever else. After much research into the question you're asking, and even trying a few things out, I ended up doing something moronically simple, but surprisingly effective.
In OS X, you can Cmd-I a file ("Get Info") to see it's metadata. In this metadata, you can twirl down "Comments", and type things in there. So I'd go out and shoot some cops footage, bring it back, and for each file, Cmd-I it and write "cops man gun car driving" or "cops woman handcuff suspect". You could really get specific if you wanted, but I kept it pretty simple.
Then, you can now use a simple spotlight search (cmd-spacebar), search for "cops driving" or "cops handcuffs" or "weather rain" or "rain cops" or whatever it is you're looking for, and any files matching that metadata come right up. If you get too many results, you can refine by any number of criteria.
I combined this with my aforementioned categorizing system to help refine (and make browsing easier).
A visit to NAB found me several vendors in the $10k+ range who had systems that couldn't really beat this - especially because it's free.

Side note but somewhat topical, I don't know if you're using Google Photos to track your personal photos, but their search is amazing. Type in "Christmas Present" and it searches through 15 years of digital photos and shows me any photos with christmas presents. Many, many keywords work - in fact, last week I had a request for some Beluga Whale footage we shot at SeaWorld at least 10 years ago (beta tape), which are stored by date. They couldn't find the tape. They wanted to know if I had the date. I typed "Beluga Whale" into Google Photos, it immediately pulled up a snapshot I took in the enclosure that day, and I had the time and date right away.
I type all this to say that, I think in the next 5 years, we will have something similar for video. So you really only need (a) decent baseline organization, and (b) something to get you through the next 5 years.
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Old June 20th, 2016, 06:37 PM   #4
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Re: Any Recommendations for Cataloging Footage?

Originally Posted by Kris Kohuth View Post
I'm assuming many of you shoot a wide variety of locations, seasons, setups, times-of-day, species, different generations within the same species, etc.

How do you keep track of it all?
Any cataloging software you'd care to recommend?

Or have you developed other strategies (e.g. Prelude, Excel, pen-and-paper, etc.)?
Too bad this question doesn't get more response. I have been on the fence for a few years trying to decide which route to go.

At least your footage is specialized enough that you could narrow down a solution more easily.

I've seen threads on this and to summarize what people say they're using, it goes like this (in no particular order):

Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Bridge, MediaFiler, FileMaker Pro.

I have a phobia of spending months entering clip names, metadata and keywords into one of these programs only to realize a short time later that it's not going to work for me and I need to move to another product. Analysis paralysis, as they say.

What I'd like my organizer to do is allow me to search through all my video clips, still photos and audio files by entering dates/keywords/camera model/etc. and get a list of clips with their storage location. I would also like to be able to click on any clip name and make it play on the screen, but I think that's reaching too far for now. I'd also like to be able to output custom reports with a hard copy of the search results so I can mull them over, highlight the one's that look good and cross out the ones I know I won't use.

With Adobe going the subscription route and hanging me out to dry after spending $1,700 on their Production Premium CS6 package, I am not too eager to put my trust in them for something like this video organizer tool. But, Bridge will keep all the metadata from the clip, and that is going to save lots of keystrokes if I have to enter that stuff manually. And I believe you can enter lots of keywords on top of that. Will it matter if I can't count on Adobe to update my version of Bridge in the future? Will it still be compatible with whatever I'm shooting with and whatever version of Windows I'm using 10 short years from now?

FileMaker Pro is a database. Why should I pay $300 for that when I have Microsoft Access included in Windows already? I've designed complex relational databases before and it always took about 4 times longer than I predicted to get it working how I want it. But, you have lots of flexibility there. You can design it how you want, make changes down the road and not have to re-enter your data. Custom reports, no problem. You could even have a field for attachments, and that attachment could be a video or audio file. So, you might be able to set this up so you click on the button and watch your video clip play. That would be great, but which file types are supported? All of them? Only .avi? Is there a clip file size limit involved?

MediaFiler, best I can tell, is a database program that comes set up for video file organization. I think they've been around a while. But what about metadata and clip playback? I think you're paying for someone else doing the database design, allowing you to get started on organizing your clips faster if you don't want to design it all yourself. Need to see if they offer a trial period.

I'm thinking of playing around with MS Access to see how hard it will be to import metadata. If it turns out to be a pain, then I think I'd be going with Bridge despite my fears of being left out in the cold when they don't update it to Windows XX. Am I really going to even need to search by metadata info? Hmm.

Currently, I organize all my stuff chronologically by labeling my archive hard drives with the year the footage was shot. On the drives, I make folders like "20151110 - Hong Kong FS7 Card 1"

I don't have a video niche, and I can't predict what I'll be doing 5 years from now. All I know is the library is growing at an exponential rate. So I am looking for something flexible. I'd be interested to hear what others are using today and what the advantages/disadvantages are.

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Old June 20th, 2016, 10:27 PM   #5
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Re: Any Recommendations for Cataloging Footage?

For years I’ve been using the same starting Folder name that Mark uses which is YYYYMMDD; however, with one of the updates of last year the FCPX application did an automatic naming syntax of MM-DD-YYYY.

Back in January I decided it was time to revisit the file system and posted to seek support for ideas of how to improve it. Time marches on and working this issue took a back seat to my other work. After some start and stop fits of seeing what I could come up with I hit what I think is the jackpot. At least I hope so.

In the FCP X Tool Bar select Modify > Apply Custom Name > New and then this window opens (see below). It is quite self-explanatory and at the bottom they left a blank for some flexibility.

I haven’t started using it yet because I don’t know what the outcome will be, that is, will it change everything in the past, or what? Currently I’m manually changing the default file name to what was used before.

For the price, this application has a lot going for it.

Edit: Just read Mark’s post #6 and I do the same thing re: delete unwanted or bad clips as soon as possible.
Attached Thumbnails
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Last edited by John Nantz; June 21st, 2016 at 09:25 AM. Reason: Read Mark’s post #6
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Old June 21st, 2016, 12:09 AM   #6
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Re: Any Recommendations for Cataloging Footage?

A couple of things I do that are somewhat related to clip organization is to delete bad clips that have no potential use for me, not even worthy audio, as soon as possible after they've been created. Preferably in-camera. That way I'm not downloading it to a hard drive and then have to skim over it yet again and again.

The other thing is that I like to keep an archive of the entire card, with all the file structure intact. I can still go in and delete clips, but I've had situations where, after renaming all the clips, I sort of lost track of where they went and by keeping the original card data dump, I had no trouble re-covering my footage.

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Old June 21st, 2016, 02:17 AM   #7
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Re: Any Recommendations for Cataloging Footage?

My problem is an ever changing type of files. So I cannot go for specific Sony solution or something like that. I do it very simple - I name folders with species, location and year. When I have filled up a hard-disk, that I name S1 - S2 and so on. I use "Printfolder" to make a txt document with the text of all folders on each hard-disk. I collect all documents in one folder that I can search for specifik text in windows. For one animal or plant I can have three different file types or more - dont know how else to handle it.
You may laugh but it works for me :)
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Old June 24th, 2016, 03:46 AM   #8
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Re: Any Recommendations for Cataloging Footage?

If you are on a Mac, you absolutely must have this software.

I just drag a disc icon onto the app and it indexes the whole drive in 5 seconds. I can then view, search, find, etc. every drive in my library even it is offline (all my drives and cases are numbered with laser printed stickers). The contents of all my drives are stored in one document so it's easy to see the whole library at once. You can add comments if you want after the app indexes the drive contents. Did I mention it does in almost instantly? And you can re-drag a drive's icon onto the app anytime you want to update it after you've added more footage to it or something.

It won't help if you want clip-by-clip keywords, but I don't need that level of detail nor do I want to spend the time typing them in anyway. If your clip naming and folder naming of your archived footage makes sense, you can find anything in your library almost instantly. And the best thing is I didn't have to do any manual data entry. I just add the ID number from the sticker that I've put on the drive into the "comments" field and I am done.

I would be lost without it.
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