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Taxonomy anyone?

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Bill Davis
Taxonomy anyone?
on Nov 14, 2011 at 8:16:21 pm

I've been delving more deeply into the Keywording structure of X recently and I've realized that I'm such a rookie at taxonomy that I'm pretty sure that I'm falling short of a solid coherent strategy for doing this properly.

I also believe that if I approach this thoughtfully here in my early months of building FCP-X projects - I can likely build a more valuable lasting system of long-term project storage and retrieval for the future.

X allows us unlimited keyword tags inside the Project, but what about the best "outside" naming structures for Projects, Events etc. - is there a better strategy than just imagining random keywords? , What is a good overall keyword strategy? What does a good clip ID system look like? I have a rack of 300-500 field tapes and masters on my wall from past shoots. If I'd tagged and ID'd all the scenes in those, I'd have an incredible asset to make my editing life easier. Now I have a system built into X that will let me do this IF I establish smart practices early and stick to them. That's what I'm interested in learning.

So where do I start?

Are numerical tags best? Alpha-numeric combos? What about sort-friendly practices like "leading zeros" in numbers?

Maybe someday I might need to find the clip with "the girl in the yellow dress" - so does that means I should consider "girl", "yellow", and "dress", ALL as tags, or should I do "Girl yellow dress" all as ONE tag? How many characters are too many for a good tag?

Database structures for video assets are nothing new. TV stations and others have been doing them for decades. But suddenly, we $299 video program editors have the same tools built into OUR editing software.

I'd simply like to learn to do this better than just opening the keyword editor and typing in whatever comes to mind.

I initially thought I'd reach out to the "hive mind" here and see if anyone wants to participate in a simple discussion about this, but I'm a bit concerned that since this forum gets kinda contentious that someone with a great idea might feel hesitant to toss it out for fear that someone will quash it by reflex.

So I'm thinking a short run, limited purpose "email group" might be a smarter way to do this.

I'm willing to volunteer a bit of time each evening to concatenating folks contributions into a single un-edited document (with strict idea attribution), then re-send the result to the participants for discussion.

Kind of an informal FCP-X "taxonomy" working group.

If and when we come to a group consensus about stuff that sounds like the best ideas, we can post it if that's the will of the tribe.

My email address is linked under my name.

If you want to participate, just drop me an email with the word "Taxonomy" in the subject.

Thanks for considering this.

Bill Davis.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Taxonomy anyone?
on Nov 14, 2011 at 9:39:00 pm

[Bill Davis] "My email address is linked under my name."

It is? :)


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Walter Soyka
Re: Taxonomy anyone?
on Nov 14, 2011 at 9:54:56 pm

Great topic, Bill.

I'll suggest approaching the problem in reverse. The value is not the structure of the data itself -- it's being able to find the shot you need when you need it.

If you needed a specific shot, and you were asking me to find it for you, how would you describe it to me? What criteria are important to your shot selection during editorial? What sorts of things would you consider for including or excluding a shot?

On subject matter, I think that's probably highly dependent on what sort of work you mainly do. Eskimos don't really have hundreds of words for snow, but the Sami do [link]. I might be able to get away with a "snow" keyword, but a Sami editor might want more resolution in that concept.

You might consider browsing a few stock video sites and examining the keywords assigned to clips. A poorly tagged stock clip won't be found, and therefore it won't be sold, so there may be some valuable lessons there.

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
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Michael Gissing
Re: Taxonomy anyone?
on Nov 14, 2011 at 10:20:16 pm

I went through this about 16 years ago with audio database management in dSP and then Fairlight. The way commercial sound FX libraries managed this was to use a dominant category descriptor as the first word and then sub descriptors as second, third & fourth words. This is based on sort and display characteristics of the database and also how CDs were compiled based on categories. This is not the best way to sort in a combined database however

Changes that I made were to not necessarily use a category descriptor. So a file that was described as 'foley boots concrete walk' , 'I would change to 'foot concrete walk boots'. The reason was to then allow the alphabetic sorting of the name so that the importance of delineation was staged within the name and like things would group. Foot not feet as tense didn't matter. Concrete as the walking surfaces then group. This sorted things much better than saying boot and then having the surface spread throughout the list.

Final choice is type of foot ware and nature of the action. Long discussions with my colleagues help to define levels of importance and characteristics of sorting but a lot depends on how the database arranges the sort.

One major issue was capitals were sorted ahead of lower case so we banished all capitals. So in order to best describe, the way a sort is displayed is a major determinant in how to describe.The other issue was tense and certain plurals. We decided to avoid both by having everything described as present tense and no plurals like foot/ feet. It is OK when the plural is to add 's' as the search still works.

Finally avoid really long descriptors. Use abbreviations where possible. (why is abbreviation such a long word?) We also used codes for geography so au = Australia, US = America etc so that specific bird sounds or even traffic was ID'd by place. Try to use standards like cu for close up, ws for wide shot etc.


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Bill Davis
Re: Taxonomy anyone?
on Nov 14, 2011 at 10:51:13 pm

I'm already enjoying the responses. Thank you all.

Walter, I agree with your approach to the "inside" key wording. But I'm just as interested in developing a better strategy for camera card archive designations, what to name or rename items in the EVENT BROWSER to better use that capability and other "inside" strategies, rather than JUST the use of keywords inside the X database.

As to the email problem Jeremy mentioned, I guess the old link to the test demo reel I'd forgotten I'd posted isn't always working so, for those interested, here's the munged email for me.

new video (all one word) at fastx (replace the x with a lower case Q) dot com.

Thanks.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Taxonomy anyone?
on Nov 15, 2011 at 1:49:09 am

Are you trying to build a "stock footage" library for yourself? Your clients? Per client? Across all clients?


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Bill Davis
Re: Taxonomy anyone?
on Nov 15, 2011 at 4:22:16 am

Jeremy,

At this point my goals are not that specific.

I'm not starting out with any pre-conceived notions. That's the whole point. I'm not used to thinking about this kind of very flexible and open system for search and sort inside a NLE environment.

So I'm starting from scratch to learn. I know a few things about how computers operate at the taxonomic level, but I also understand how much I don't know. So I'm trying to educate myself in the broadest possible terms.

So this is a personal quest for knowledge. Nothing more. I also believe that since so many people will be coming to the new FCP-X toolset, that any open discussion of "best practices" in the area of clip, project, event, and/or data naming will be likely to help a lot of others as well.

Pretty much that simple.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Taxonomy anyone?
on Nov 15, 2011 at 4:44:01 am

[Bill Davis] "At this point my goals are not that specific. "

Ok. So for now it's safe to assume this language will be on an event to event basis and not to build a catalog, per se.


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Bill Davis
Re: Taxonomy anyone?
on Nov 15, 2011 at 4:59:10 am

Yes, I think so.

Tho the obvious best goal would be to look at this through as many lenses as possible so that whatever discussion takes place is useful for those who DO want to build asset catalogs - even if I don't.

Again, I'm trying to seek out ideas without artificial limitations on thinking.

We'll see what pops up - and I'll be sure to come back and post anything I hear.

Bill

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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tony west
Re: Taxonomy anyone?
on Nov 15, 2011 at 2:12:34 pm

I'm working on a project that I have shot B-roll for in different States.

So landfill in Kentucky would be

"kY landfill WS" (wide shot) or "Chi statue CU" Chicago statue close up

When I type KY I can see everything I shot in that state. Then I narrow from there (I love it).


Do you use markers? When I log an interview now I put in markers and type notes in, that can be called up in the keyword search.

It won't go to the marker itself but it will select the clip that has the marker in it. Fast.


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Bill Davis
Re: Taxonomy anyone?
on Nov 15, 2011 at 5:10:37 pm

Tony,

Precisely the kind of practical idea I was hoping to spread.

Thanks.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Taxonomy anyone?
on Nov 15, 2011 at 5:07:19 pm

[Bill Davis] "Yes, I think so.

Tho the obvious best goal would be to look at this through as many lenses as possible so that whatever discussion takes place is useful for those who DO want to build asset catalogs - even if I don't.

Again, I'm trying to seek out ideas without artificial limitations on thinking. "


No, but I do think we need to start with the right tool. FCPX has some data management functions, but it's not a data manager. If we are talking about a Project/Event level, then yes, FCPX is awesome.

If you are talking about trying to track everything you've ever done and will do in the future, something like CatDV would be a better bet in my opinion and could exist outside of an FCPX infrastructure and allow translation to other database programs (and make viewable proxies, etc and so forth). FCPX doesn't allow that quite yet, and not sure if it ever will. Who knows.

We should start with the right tool for the right job, that's why I was asking.

Jeremy


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