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Best Way to Organize DSLR Video Metadata

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Scott Silvia
Best Way to Organize DSLR Video Metadata
on May 1, 2013 at 5:59:32 pm

Hey all,

I am attempting to optimize my organizational workflow specifically with regards to my video metadata. I am wondering what the easiest way to do this is. I have read that a lot of people use Aperture or Lightroom to organize their footage before bringing it in the Final Cut or Premier. Although, I have also read that Aperture and Lightroom do not deal with metadata for video as well as they deal with it for photos. I also stumbled upon this and have heard great things about it.

Does anyone want to shed light on their organizational metadata workflow?

Thanks


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Bill Davis
Re: Best Way to Organize DSLR Video Metadata
on May 1, 2013 at 7:02:37 pm

My opinion is that it's best to have a two tiered solution.

The first is an external storage strategy. Where and how will you backup your original field storage cards or drives. This includes having a solid drive image naming system so that you can easily and efficiently find and access these source files as necessary. Many of us using FCP-X use "sparse disk images" to facilitate that. They're efficient, dependable, and extremely flexible. As "virtual clones" they're also interchangable, so if you have multiple copies stored or archived, launching ANY of them allows the system to work as if you'd launched the original source.

The second tier is the organizational work you do within the FCP-X Event Browser. This is where you can apply a systematic keyword system for finding, sorting and manipulating things at the clip and "range of a clip" level. Get a solid strategy for both those areas, and really, that's everything you need unless you're working in a hugely complex system of shared assets inside a large company (and even then, the same solid naming conventions and tag strategies are every bit as sensible.

I know the lure of using a tool you're already familiar with (ala Lightroom) for doing organization, but honestly, exceptional tools are already built into X. So to my mind, it's a little like building an index on a blackberry to organize the files on your computer. The computer has all the organizational power you'll ever need so what't the point of adding another organizational layer?


FWIW.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Scott Silvia
Re: Best Way to Organize DSLR Video Metadata
on May 1, 2013 at 7:26:27 pm

Definitely. I have already started using the sparse disk image organizational workflow and using good naming conventions for my backups. I have also used the FCP X Event Browser to organize and rate all my clips. I just thought there might be a more "professional" way to do what the FCP X Event Browser does (ala Lightroom or Aperture).

So in your opinion Lightroom and Aperture are better for dealing with just photos and not particularly necessary for organizing media that will be placed in a FCP X or Premier scratch disk?


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Sandeep Sajeev
Re: Best Way to Organize DSLR Video Metadata
on May 2, 2013 at 7:13:00 pm

Working with DSLR footage, while problematic a couple of years ago, is now pretty straight forward. A 'solid' workflow usually involves the following 2 steps right after acquisition:

1) stripe Timecode and Reel information into the footage.
2) batch Rename your Timecode striped footage.

Once inside FCPX, there are a lot of ways to use organise your footage and add/deal with metadata. This is my system when dealing with DSLR footage:

- run the footage through Magic Bullet Grinder, using the .THM files to embed Time of Day Timecode into the footage.
- run the Timecode(d) footage through Better Finder Rename to embed the following metadata into the clip names: CameraID, Mag/CF card #, Clip Number, Production Date. So when I see clip A001_C005_130502, I know that this is clip#5, from CameraA, CF card 1, and that it was shot on the 2nd of May in 2013.

I also organise my folders at the Finder level using a similar convention: A001_130502 for instance is one folder containing A cam footage shot on the 13th. This becomes my reel metadata within FCPX.

Once inside FCPX, I don't Rename my clips. I do fill in additional metadata such as Reel and Angle etc if necessary. I use keywords, ranges and smart collections to add an additional layer of edit focused metadata onto my footage. So I am always aware at all times of my production metadata, which is pretty crucial when dealing with agency work.

With how well FCPXML performs, I find the transfer of metadata between X, Smoke and Resolve to be smooth as well. Going out to Flame or iQ is a bit more complicated, but in that case I take my Timeline into Smoke and do it from there.

Hope that helps,
Best,
Sandeep.


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Sandeep Sajeev
Re: Best Way to Organize DSLR Video Metadata
on May 2, 2013 at 7:18:20 pm

I've totally skipped over archiving, as you mentioned that you've got that sorted. I also forgot to add that when Production hands over MovieSlate data, I feed that into FCPX as well.

I deal with external audio in a similar way, but the device identifiers start at Z, to make sure Audio is always at the bottom of any Synchronised or Multi-cam clips.

Sandeep.


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Scott Silvia
Re: Best Way to Organize DSLR Video Metadata
on May 3, 2013 at 12:38:36 am

Thanks a lot Sandeep. That was really helpful. I do have a few questions though if you don't mind.

  • How exactly are you striping Timecode and Reel information into the footage?


  • What is the quickest way to input additional metadata to clips within FCP X?


  • How would I go about transferring MovieSlate data into FCP X?


  • And, lastly what do you mean by "the device identifiers start at Z," with regards to audio?



  • Scott.


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    Sandeep Sajeev
    Re: Best Way to Organize DSLR Video Metadata
    on May 3, 2013 at 7:12:46 pm

    Hi Scott,

    I use Magic Bullet Grinder to embed Timecode into the clips. It's very straightforward - you drag your clips into the app, specify whether you want Time of Day or Straight (1:00:00:00 onwards for example) Timecode.

    You then specify an output folder and Grinder spits out new versions with embedded timecode, leaving your master footage untouched. As you are not encoding these clips into another format (ProRes for example, although you can if you want to), the process is very fast.

    I rename these clips in the Finder using Better Finder Rename, although you can Batch Rename in FCPX and it will link back to the original media. However, some old habits die hard, and I don't have the courage to do my renaming inside my NLE.

    The Reel information, I do Batch inside FCPX - select all the clips from a specific reel (which is how I organize my footage at the Finder Level) and type that info into the Reel field. This is updated across all selected clips.

    You should watch this video for an taste of the possibilities:







    See the above link for the quickest way to input additional metadata into FCPX as well.

    There is no automated way to input MovieSlate data into FCPX. It has to be done manually, so it's a bit of a grind. Hopefully someone at MovieSlate is on this.

    With regards to Audio, often we have multiple units recording sound as well. So in this case, I use ZA to identify my First Unit Sound, ZB for Second Unit etc. This is probably unnecessary in most situations, but I like to keep things consistent through different projects (as much as possible anyway!) so this is how I do this.

    However, there is one caveat - if you are relying on Date Stamped Audio files then Modifying them in anyway results in the loss of that information. So if you need that, then don't touch the audio files until you're inside FCPX, where you can using a Z in the camera angle field if necessary. Again, the above link has an example of how this works.

    Best,
    Sandeep.


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    Scott Silvia
    Re: Best Way to Organize DSLR Video Metadata
    on May 4, 2013 at 6:39:06 am

    Hey Sandeep,

    Thanks for sharing your workflow man. I am definitely going to implement these organizational tools on all the shoots I do from now on. I haven't watched the video yet, but I definitely will when I have a little more time.

    One question, do you just treat your cards as a Reel? Once a card fills up you call it a reel and the next card, or the same card formatted, as the subsequent reel?

    Thanks,

    Scott


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    Sandeep Sajeev
    Re: Best Way to Organize DSLR Video Metadata
    on May 4, 2013 at 6:59:38 am

    do you just treat your cards as a Reel? Once a card fills up you call it a reel and the next card, or the same card formatted, as the subsequent reel?

    No. The Reel field needs to have more than just the card information. It needs to tell Post which camera, which card and the date. This ensures that there is no duplication anywhere in the pipeline.

    So it's not enough just to say my Reel is CF1, it's much more useful to say my Reel is A001_130504. This way it's clear that this footage is from CamA, CF1, and the shoot date was 04 May, 2013. That is a unique identifier, and that's basically what we want our Reel to be.

    Best,
    Sandeep.


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    Sandeep Sajeev
    Re: Best Way to Organize DSLR Video Metadata
    on May 4, 2013 at 7:10:56 am

    Scott,

    a quick note on wrangling your data on set. Apologies if you're already aware of all this, but just in case you're not, this may save you some grief at some point.

    It's good practice to have multiple cards on set. They should all be labelled in some way, to distinguish them from each other, so there's no confusion.

    If production is small, then there usually isn't a dedicated person on set who's offloading/archiving/duplicating CF data. So it's crucial that
    there's a robust system in place for this. It's far easier than it should be to make a mistake and lose hours of work.

    • Always back up your Card Data to 2 Drives on Set.
    • Keep recorded cards physically separate from fresh ones.
    • Copy the entire Directory Structure on to the Drives, don't be selective, even of it appears that folders may not contain anything.
    • Do the same with any External Audio Data.
    • I always tell Production to use the different folders on the Audio Device when they're recording on Set, to make it easier for Post to recognize what is what.
    • Try and Slate whenever possible. It really helps.


    Best,
    Sandeep.


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    Scott Silvia
    Re: Best Way to Organize DSLR Video Metadata
    on May 4, 2013 at 9:17:59 pm

    Sandeep,

    I have been making disk images of my cards for awhile now to make sure that the entire Directory Structure is kept intact. Should I be labeling the disk images I make as such: A001_130504 and next disk image A002_130504, etc? Is there a way to copy to 2, non-Raided, small field drives at the same time (maybe daisy-chain)? And lastly, when it comes to external audio devices, which are placed in a separate folder, how do you label them so that they are matched up with the correct Reel?

    Thanks,
    Scott


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    Sandeep Sajeev
    Re: Best Way to Organize DSLR Video Metadata
    on May 4, 2013 at 9:44:16 pm

    Hi Scott,

    Yes, labelling your Disk Images in that way sounds good. Assuming that they reside in a Master Directory that gives you some indication as to what the project was. It may make sense to flip the order, instead of A001_130504, 130504_A001 will ensure that all your disk images/folders etc line up sequentially. Ultimately your system needs to work for you, not just today, but 2 years down the line, when that client comes back with a new project, but wants you to use footage from the cool film you made last time...you should be able to find that footage quickly. So pick one naming convention and then don't change it, unless absolutely necessary.

    Yes, Shotput Pro will let you copy to Multiple Destinations. I'm not sure about Daisy Chaining, as we dump one set onto a FW800 field drive, and one onto a USB drive.

    The folder segregation is just for us to quickly identify various Audio Segments. There is no separate naming convention for this, it all belongs to the same reel, and the folders are ignored once we've classified the various audio files. It just helps us sort through this faster without hunting through a large number of files, all in one folder. Obviously this info is fed into FCPX so that we know what's what.

    Best,
    Sandeep.


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    Scott Silvia
    Re: Best Way to Organize DSLR Video Metadata
    on May 5, 2013 at 6:29:34 pm

    Sandeep,

    Awesome. I think I have a pretty good grasp on everything now. Thanks again. One last question. When a card has filled up, do you always dump both the video card and the external audio device card and start fresh on both?


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    Sandeep Sajeev
    Re: Best Way to Organize DSLR Video Metadata
    on May 6, 2013 at 6:50:39 am

    I don't, but if you find that it helps you stay organized then you should go for it :)

    Best,
    Sandeep.


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