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FCPX and Pervasive Metadata

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Gary Huff
FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 5:10:24 am

In the "Thanks for All the Fish" thread, Walter Soyka posted the following:

"Pervasive metadata is absolutely the way of the future."

This is also a view that I've heard stated in similar ways from other users as well.

So is it?

On the one hand, we are told that the future is these freelancers shooting on their DSLRs and coming back to FCPX on their Mac Book Pro/iMac and churning out video that is fully "baked" inside Apple's NLE. This implies low cost/quick turnaround video.

So where does metadata fit in? With video being "cheaper", the longer one spends per project, the less one actively makes. So why spend an hour logging all the footage when you're shooting one project before moving on to the next and time is money? Where does metadata fit into this revolutionary new workflow? Cataloging footage in this manner comes in hand in two scenarios: 1) long-form work and 2) database footage. Outside of b-roll, the second doesn't seem likely for these new individual shooters, and how does the second work when it's all short-form Internet distributed material?


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 11:37:55 am

What I like about FCPX is that it allows you to be as organized or as disorganized as you want and still have quick access to footage.

I can organize over 1000 clips in 15 minutes or less. I talk a bit about this here:

http://library.creativecow.net/garchow_jeremy/FCPX-Ask/1

Now, you can spend more time and get more descriptive if you want, or you don't have to. It will also come in handy in the clip index.

Jeremy


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David Lawrence
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 3:31:30 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "I can organize over 1000 clips in 15 minutes or less."

Can you be a bit more specific about what you mean by "organize" in this example?

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Jeremy Garchow
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 3:33:23 pm

[David Lawrence] "Can you be a bit more specific about what you mean by "organize" in this example?"

I talk about it in the article, with screengrabs! :0) It is preliminary "bucket" organize. ie throw related clips in a "bin".

http://library.creativecow.net/garchow_jeremy/FCPX-Ask/1


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David Lawrence
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 3:43:58 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "I talk about it in the article, with screengrabs! :0) It is preliminary "bucket" organize. ie throw related clips in a "bin"."

Ah yes. I Just saw the thumbnails at first and missed the keyword list. Yes, that's something I like in FCPX a lot. In fact it's even easier to favorite regions than you say, just hit F, no need for the control key!

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Jeremy Garchow
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 3:46:01 pm

[David Lawrence] "In fact it's even easier to favorite regions than you say, just hit F, no need for the control key!"

Ooo, could be a typo. Control-f is show faves. Good catch!


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Gary Huff
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 3:48:42 pm

[Jeremy Garchow]I talk about it in the article, with screengrabs! :0) It is preliminary "bucket" organize. ie throw related clips in a "bin".

I saw the article and I don't understand how it's any different from another NLE with an actual bin and sorting clips the traditional way.

Exactly how were things sorted differently than you would have before in a way that was better?


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 3:55:16 pm

[Gary Huff] "I saw the article and I don't understand how it's any different from another NLE with an actual bin and sorting clips the traditional way."

You make a keyword, and FCPX automatically makes that a keyboard shortcut. You sort the event by "No Ratings or Keywords", select the relevant clips, and either assign a new keyword, or use one of the already created keywords. It's ultra fast and very fluid. No waiting for drag and drop and you instant access to all clips to view and sort right in the event by single clicking it. All clips available all the time, no double clicking, no watching in a separate window, you simply start skimming it want to start editing. You simply can't do it in FCP7, or any other editor as far as I know.


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Gary Huff
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 3:58:25 pm

No waiting for drag and drop? What do you mean by waiting? I have to type in a keyword, surely that's at least as long if not a bit longer than "drag 'n drop".

All clips available all the time, no double clicking, no watching in a separate window, you simply start skimming it want to start editing. You simply can't do it in FCP7, or any other editor as far as I know.

Frankly, having used both, I find it more annoying to skim in the "bin" window than the process currently used, mostly because they are thumbnails.


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 4:02:54 pm

[Gary Huff] "No waiting for drag and drop? What do you mean by waiting? I have to type in a keyword, surely that's at least as long if not a bit longer than "drag 'n drop"."

No if your bin is closed, and is located in a bin within a bin. Also, you cannot view or see all of your clips in FCP7 like you can in FCPX. I am telling you, in practice, it is very fast and fluid. Yes, you have to wait for drag and drop.

[Gary Huff] "Frankly, having used both, I find it more annoying to skim in the "bin" window than the process currently used, mostly because they are thumbnails.
"


But the full size video is available while skimming in the viewer.


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Gary Huff
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 3:31:34 pm

Agreed. I would rather have more options than less. But what I'm saying is that there are those touting that new production paradigm AND the new metadata as being the wave of the future, when it seems counter-productive TO that new production paradigm.


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 3:44:46 pm

[Gary Huff] "But what I'm saying is that there are those touting that new production paradigm AND the new metadata as being the wave of the future, when it seems counter-productive TO that new production paradigm."

Why? Because assigning useful metadata extremely fast slows you down? I don't get it.


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Gary Huff
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 3:56:04 pm

[Jeremy Garchow]Why? Because assigning useful metadata extremely fast slows you down? I don't get it.

But you're not assigning any level of metadata at a fast level that is that useful. Select clips "interview", select the next batch "b-roll". And you're done. That's not that different or more useful than creating two bins called "Interview" and "B-Roll" and moving your footage into them.

But that's not the power of metadata by any stretch. The power comes from more detailed descriptions and selection moments inside clips and whatnot.

And who is going to spend the time to do that? You said you organized 1000 clips, but in very rough and down-and-dirty form. Now what if you wanted to explicitly label every single one with very detailed keywording, including labeling selections within clips. Are you going to do that yourself? How long is that going to take and how long are you willing to spend doing it?


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 4:04:17 pm

[Gary Huff] "But you're not assigning any level of metadata at a fast level that is that useful. Select clips "interview", select the next batch "b-roll". And you're done. That's not that different or more useful than creating two bins called "Interview" and "B-Roll" and moving your footage into them."

You can assign multiple keywords if you want. So while you are selecting you can say "Gary" and "Interview" and all of the clips will go in to an interview bin, and all of your Gary only clips will go to a Gary bin. Until you see it, you don't realize just how fast it is. You can see the frame grabs I have. It is much more granular than "broll". That's pretty silly. This is descriptive (although basic) data. You can choose to even further refine it, but of course that will take more time:

http://library.creativecow.net/articles/garchow_jeremy/FCPX-Ask/assets/03B_...

Jeremy


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Gary Huff
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 4:14:28 pm

[Jeremy Garchow]Until you see it, you don't realize just how fast it is.

That's the thing...I have seen it and find it simply different, not faster.

And dumping into two bins at the same time is not impressive. What's the need for that in the type of production paradigm that I'm talking about? When you can already have everything sorted by time, why even take the 15 minutes that you could use editing to sort through the clips when you already have a good general idea of where things are (remember: fast turnaround)?


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 4:25:53 pm

[Gary Huff] "That's the thing...I have seen it and find it simply different, not faster."

Good on ya. I find it way faster. I tend to be really organized. On a quick turnaround project if someone walks in and says, I need this quote from Gary, I can go right there, type "Gary" and start skimming, instead of finding/opening the interview bin and look around, double click the shot into the viewer, make sure it's the right one, if not, go back to the bin, double click the next shot, etc. FCPX is fast. If you don't see it that way, cool.

[Gary Huff] "And dumping into two bins at the same time is not impressive. "

And how would you do this in FCP7 without duplicating the clip? You can't, so I find it useful. Impressive, I don't really care about, useful, I do care.

[Gary Huff] "When you can already have everything sorted by time, why even take the 15 minutes that you could use editing to sort through the clips when you already have a good general idea of where things are (remember: fast turnaround)?"

And what if you don't have a general idea? This is my point. You can simply single click the event and start editing. Thanks for bringing that back up, as I did mention it in the article. No double clicking, no waiting for anything, simply single click the event, and skim.


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Steve Connor
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 4:34:08 pm

I have to agree with Jeremy, I am currently editing a project with nearly 1500 clips and the ability to skim does make it quicker to locate footage, even if you don't use keywords.

"My Name is Steve and I'm an FCPX user"


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Marvin Holdman
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 8:22:34 pm

As a facility that re-uses stock footage on a very regular basis, user fed metadata is essential. We've been on CatDV for a couple of years and it works well for us. The problem I see with FCPX is that the user-fields for metadata are FAR too restrictive. Great if you want to broadly categorize footage, but horrible if you need any more detail for it. We shoot in 6 markets for hundreds of clients and thousands of job order numbers. I haven't heard anyone talk about exporting (or importing for that matter) user defined metadata with FCPX. Our current systems (FCP7 and PPro) allow user-defined metadata to be brought into the application via XML import. Wonder if it will be the same case for FCPX?

Sadly, the clock is running out on this disappointment of an application. The more time goes by, the clearer it becomes Apple is in no way interested in servicing the needs of the professional community.

Marvin Holdman
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Jeremy Garchow
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 8, 2011 at 8:40:57 pm

[Marvin Holdman] "Our current systems (FCP7 and PPro) allow user-defined metadata to be brought into the application via XML import. Wonder if it will be the same case for FCPX?"

It works somewhat now, at least with P2 footage which stores XML as part of the P2 data set (which means that FCPX is able to read that version of XML files, today).

Reel, Scene, Take, Angle, Name, Notes, Location are the P2 fields that are immediately searchable in FCPX Browser. The amount of metadata fields that are available in FCPX is incredible, I can't get them on a single screen grab. For example, here's the "camera" origin that's available. There's also EXIF, Image, IPTC, Spotlight, and Studio. The problem is, not all these are searchable or available at your fingertips within FCPX yet. They are stored there, it's just hard to view them without going clip by clip in the inspector. it will be nice to be able to search all this info. LINK and screen grab here:



[Marvin Holdman] "Sadly, the clock is running out on this disappointment of an application. The more time goes by, the clearer it becomes Apple is in no way interested in servicing the needs of the professional community."

The said the first update by summer, so they have until the 21st to live up to that. This kind of thing takes time. If you dive deep in the app (yes, one has to look beyond the magnetic timeline), there is no way that they are not interested in a pro market, but time will tell of their commitment to it.


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David Lawrence
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 9, 2011 at 12:27:20 am

[Jeremy Garchow] "On a quick turnaround project if someone walks in and says, I need this quote from Gary, I can go right there, type "Gary" and start skimming, instead of finding/opening the interview bin and look around, double click the shot into the viewer, make sure it's the right one, if not, go back to the bin, double click the next shot, etc. FCPX is fast."

I think the thing that's getting lost in this sub-thread is the difference between tagging and logging. They're very different processes. Tagging is fast and general, but logging takes time, especially for interviews. You can speed up an interview, but only so much. You just have to put in the time and listen.

I like the organizational tools in FCPX. I think they're one of the best things about it. I think the skimmer's nice though the UI is sloppy (try making a range then clicking inside it, then try clicking outside it, oops!). At least that can be fixed.

So that said, for b-roll tagging/rough organization, these new tools are great. For logging though, I find the skimmer doesn't add much. Still need to J K L thru the material. In your example above, if you had ten "Gary" interview clips, the skimmer won't help you find a quote unless you know the material. Once we have this, maybe it will be less of an issue. But until then, tagging only gets you part way there. Someone still has to take the time to listen.

Unless you're going to just start throwing things on the timeline and start cutting in place. I've been on high-pressure projects where that was definitely the case. No time to organize, just start cutting now. Not my favorite way to work but sometimes there's no choice. In this case, tagging goes out the window and I really need to use the timeline as a scratchpad - but that's another conversation ;)

I do like being able to favorite different soundbites in the same clip, though. That's a win.

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David Lawrence
art~media~design~research
propaganda.com
publicmattersgroup.com
facebook.com/dlawrence
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Jeremy Garchow
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 9, 2011 at 12:45:52 am

[David Lawrence] "Tagging is fast and general, but logging takes time, especially for interviews. You can speed up an interview, but only so much. You just have to put in the time and listen."

No question. It was an example so let's change it! From the footage in the article, someone can walk and say, "we need that one shot in Humbokdt park" I type "humb" and start skimming for that shot if it isn't obvious from thumbnails. It's still faster, in my opinion.

[David Lawrence] " (try making a range then clicking inside it, then try clicking outside it, oops!)."

I'm not entirely sold on the whole range concept. It's an excellent idea, but it does do weird things as you have pointed out. This needs some tuning for sure.

[David Lawrence] "So that said, for b-roll tagging/rough organization, these new tools are great. For logging though, I find the skimmer doesn't add much. Still need to J K L thru the material."

Yes. One still has to watch footage :), but the skimmer allows you access to all of the clips at once, very fast. It's not even possible in fcp7. As I mentioned in the article, this was only for "bucket" style organizing. More precise logging would take longer, of course. I still maintain that as the project moves ahead, all of your logging will be more easily accessible by either text keyword, or favorites. Much less looking around, and more precise locating than fcp7. So as you work and build the database, it will perhaps save you more time later.

Soundbyte looks amazing, yes. I hope they can get it working in reverse as well.


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Walter Soyka
Re: FCPX and Pervasive Metadata
on Sep 20, 2011 at 2:23:54 pm

My apologies for coming in so late to this thread.


[Gary Huff] "On the one hand, we are told that the future is these freelancers shooting on their DSLRs and coming back to FCPX on their Mac Book Pro/iMac and churning out video that is fully "baked" inside Apple's NLE. This implies low cost/quick turnaround video. So where does metadata fit in? With video being "cheaper", the longer one spends per project, the less one actively makes. So why spend an hour logging all the footage when you're shooting one project before moving on to the next and time is money? Where does metadata fit into this revolutionary new workflow? Cataloging footage in this manner comes in hand in two scenarios: 1) long-form work and 2) database footage. Outside of b-roll, the second doesn't seem likely for these new individual shooters, and how does the second work when it's all short-form Internet distributed material?"

I question the premises of this argument. Firstly, not all video projects are best-suited for DSLR/MBP-toting freelance shooter/editors. The one-man-band is indisputably on the rise (both in use and in capability), but many projects still require full production teams. Secondly, for many projects (for both one-man-band and production teams), some time spent upfront logging and tagging footage will pay dividends later during editorial.

A quick parable: a young lumberjack, looking to make a name for himself at the camp, challenged one of the old hands to contest to see who could fell the most trees in a single day. The older lumberjack agreed, and they began chopping. The young lumberjack worked furiously, felling one tree after another. He looked over his shoulder, and saw the old lumberjack sitting down! The young lumberjack continued chopping, certain he would win.

By sundown, though, it was clear that the old lumberjack had felled nearly twice as many trees. The young lumberjack asked him, "How did you beat me? I chopped hard all day long, and when I turned around to look at you, I saw you sitting down and doing nothing!"

"I wasn't doing nothing," the old lumberjack replied. "I sat down every hour to sharpen my axe."

Creating meaningful metadata is the editorial equivalent of sharpening the axe. It's a tool to work smarter, not harder.

For a small project that you can keep entirely in your head, logging and tagging may not be worth the time it takes. You don't need to stop to sharpen your axe if you're only felling a single tree. However, larger projects may merit better use of metadata. If you're going to watch the footage anyway, why not spend an extra 15 seconds now to tag it, versus spending five minutes later to try to find it again?


---


Here's what I see happening in the industry: shooting ratios are skyrocketing, post schedules are constricting, and editors are caught in the middle. Post has to happen faster, and that means dealing with more video faster than before.

People are not good at sifting through mountains of data, but they are very good at understanding content. Computers are very good at sifting through mountains of data, but they have no capacity for understanding content. In editorial, metadata is the bridge that we can build from one side of this divide to the other, to let people use computers to sift through mountains of content.

I haven't met an FCP7 editor who doesn't use metadata -- but most do it with bins and clip names. If you've ever renamed a clip in the browser something like "CU Gary Interview - Questions Usefulness of Metadata," you have created useful metadata which encodes the shot type, the subject of the shot, the category of footage, and a quick note about the content to help you find it later.

Speaking generally, bins are metadata-lite. Everything that can be done with bins can be done with metadata, but not everything that can be done with metadata can be done with bins. Bins are a physical metaphor from film editorial; if we're going to take a more abstract view of our media, bins impose unnecessary limitations. They don't scale well for large on-going projects, and they don't scale well for teams of editors.

You can make arguments both ways for whether clip library data belongs inside the project (as it was with FC7) or outside the project (as it is with FCPX), but the way FCPX separates the clip library from the project actually makes their metadata system more powerful. You can buy an NLE for $299 and get a fully integrated digital asset management system for free.

Apple brought color grading to the masses a few years ago by integrating Color into Final Cut Studio. Now, I think they're bringing DAM to the masses by building it right into their NLE.

When I said that "pervasive metadata is absolutely the way of the future," I wasn't referring specifically to FCPX's implementation -- although I do think it's quite good! Rather, I meant that while NLEs have very sophisticated toolsets for actually editing video, the toolsets for managing our ever-growing piles of assets are just in their infancy.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
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