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Tagging and Searching Video Files - Best method or software to "tag" and search through large numbers of clips (without using FCPX)

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Khashyar Darvich
Tagging and Searching Video Files - Best method or software to "tag" and search through large numbers of clips (without using FCPX)
on Sep 22, 2012 at 5:10:50 am

Hi Everyone,

We are about to embark on editing a feature documentary film with about 500 hours of footage (that includes thousands of clips).

I have been reflecting on what is the best method, process or software to "tag" individual video clips and to be able to search clips while using Final Cut Pro (not FCP X). I know that FCP X has a tagging feature, but we don't want to edit with X.

I would appreciate your thoughts, ideas and input.

Here are some approaches that I am thinking might work:

1) The old fashion way of creating multiple bins within FCP. The disadvantage of this are that: A) a clip cannot have more than one associated folder, unless you make a copy of the clip, which might things messy. And B), This method does not allow you to search for individual and multiple keywords from amongst thousands of clips.

2) Another method might be to create a more traditional video footage log, on one or more digital document files, or perhaps even create a "Master Footage" overview document, where you can add tags and a short description to each clips. Perhaps you can create a table, and have one row per each video clip. The disadvantage might be that using a traditional document "Search" or "Find" feature might be slower than using a dedicated "tagging" software method, and may not allow for searching for multiple "tags" or keywords, nor see existing tags when you want to add an already existing tag to a new clips. Just not as robust as tagging.

3) An Excel Spreadsheet - This might also have similar limitations as using a table within a document.

4) A method that has its appeal is to purchase and use a file "tagging" application or plugin for the Mac OS, whereby you can assign one or more tags to each master video clip file. A composer friend of mine is using software called "Leap," which looks pretty impressive. There is also a free Mac application called "Tagit." The advantage of this method is that, within the tagging software finder-like window, you can use a robust tagging system whereby you can assign and search for multiple shot tags such as "EXT," "Low Light," "dolly," "trees," "mountains," etc... A few disadvantages might be that: A) you need to work in an application outside of Final Cut Pro, B) when the hard drive is offline, you cannot search through the tagged files, C) if you are using one hard drive, multiple editors may not be able to access the tags except while using a second hard drive with duplicated tagged files (but then a modification or addition of tags on files on one hard drive will not appear on the second HD). The "Leap" tagging software also has a "tag cloud" like window which shows existing tags, with tags used more often appearing with larger text (similar to a Wordpress tag cloud).

5) Using a file/document management software system like DEVONthink, which allows you to create documents, add and search through tags, as well as search through tags on its corresponding iphone app, as well as when the clips are offline. The disadvantage is that DEVONthink, at least, is not as robust and easy at tagging as is an application that is dedicated to tagging.

6.a) Use a dedicated video logging software like "RS Pro" (apparently used by major broadcasters and allows watching and logging footage in the same window. But, there doesn't seem to be a searchable keyword feature for clips. It also drives me nuts that they do not list the price for the software on their website. It must be expensive).

6.b) "Inscribe" is another logging software and costs $99. You can view a video clips and log within the same window. You can also create associated "Subtitles" to a video, and either embed them in the QT file or export them. But "Inscribe" seems not to have any tagging or keyword feature whatsoever.

7) The "Movie Slate" iphone and ipad app seems to have a lot of features, as well as a FCP7 XML export feature. You can add "star" ratings to each clip, as well as export a text or csv file. It also has a "Clapper" function to be used during shoots. One disadvantage seems to be that there is not stand-alone Mac app for the software, and you must use an iphone or ipad to use the software. And also, it seems to have only a basic keyword search feature.

So, what are your thoughts guys?

What do you think is the best method and add searchable keywords and manage 500 hours of footage and thousands of clips?

Thanks for contributing your ideas here.

Khashyar

Producer-Director
Wakan Films
Hollywood, CA
http://www.wakan.com


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Jason Brown
Re: Tagging and Searching Video Files - Best method or software to "tag" and search through large numbers of clips (without using FCPX)
on Sep 22, 2012 at 3:48:45 pm

Take a look at catdv


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Nick Meyers
Re: Tagging and Searching Video Files - Best method or software to "tag" and search through large numbers of clips (without using FCPX)
on Sep 23, 2012 at 9:49:38 am

it's pretty easy to add tags or keywords to clips in FCP.
there's a bunch of comment fields you use.
and these are searchable.

the only issue is you are tagging the whole clip, not sections of a clip.

my preferred way of sorting & previewing clips in FCP is to have them in Sequences.
you can have the same clip in multiple sequences without any problems.

i used this method on a crowd-sourced project last year.
multiple keywords added to clips as they came in,
later on, search for those keywords and build up dedicated "theme" sequences.
then use markers in the timeline to add more information.

i'll add that many people working on huge projects use CatDV.
it's pretty highly regarded for the sort of thing you want to do, i believe



nick


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Khashyar Darvich
Re: Tagging and Searching Video Files - Best method or software to "tag" and search through large numbers of clips (without using FCPX)
on Sep 27, 2012 at 2:26:14 am

Thank you Nick and Jason, for your suggestions and ideas.

I will look into catdv.

Producer-Director
Wakan Films
Hollywood, CA
http://www.wakan.com


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