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6 Requirements of Video Cataloging Software

six requirements of video cataloging software

I’m a big fan of video cataloging software. It’s useful when you have a lot of video clips and you’re trying to find a specific one within the large collection.

But not all video cataloging software is the same.

In this article, I’ll share six items that I consider requirements from video cataloging software.

By the way, by “video cataloging software”, I mean software that is designed to track and organize video clips. I’m not talking about editing video. That’s something else, and you’d use editing software such as Final Cut Pro X for that. I’m talking specifically about cataloging, and I use an application called CatDV for this job.

Visual Representation

The video cataloging software needs to provide a good representation of what’s in a video clip. The most common form of this is a thumbnail, a little image that includes a frame from the video.

A thumbnail certainly does give you an idea of what’s in the clip.

However, I don’t think that a single thumbnail is always enough. One reason I use CatDV is that it can provide even more information than just a thumbnail. It can show a series of thumbnails from one clip. That way, if one clip contains different shots of different subjects, you’re more likely to know.

Once you’ve experienced the usefulness of multiple thumbnails from one clip, it’s difficult to use software that only shows you a single thumbnail.

A single thumbnail might be fine for photo catalogs, but for video catalogs, multiple thumbnails is better.

Helps Locate Files

The video cataloging software needs to help you locate files. In CatDV, if I click on a clip, it’ll show me under “Media Path” exactly where I can find that clip.

This is useful because video clips are very large, and we might not always have them stored on our local hard drive. For example, some clips might be on a hard drive up on a shelf somewhere (an “offline drive”).

When I’m searching for a specific clip and I know it’s stored somewhere in my library hard drives, the software can tell me exactly where to find it.

It only takes a few moments to locate the drive, plug it in, and drill down into the correct folder.

Use Keywords to Organize

Good video cataloging software also allows you to organize your clips using keywords. In CatDV, you have to do a few steps to set up keywords initially, but you can do it.

After I’ve applied keywords to different clips, I can click on a keyword and the software will show me all the clips that have that keyword applied.

Search

Almost every piece of software will have good search capabilities. In CatDV, we have a search field where we can search for the title of a clip.

Let’s say that I’m working in Final Cut Pro and suddenly there’s an error because a clip went offline. Final Cut Pro shows the clip’s name so I can go to CatDV and search for the clip that went offline. Then I can look at the media path and see exactly where the offline clip is.

Once again, I go get the drive, plug it in, copy the clip over, and I’m back to work.

Move Clips

It’s also important that a video cataloging software has the ability to move video files around on your system, say from one hard drive to another or from one location to another location.

Once you have the video files cataloged, it’s important to use the cataloging software to move media so that the software knows exactly where the file is all the time.

If we move the files outside of the software, using The Finder for example, then it breaks the catalog because the software will no longer know where the different video files are.

Add Notes

Also, we need to be able to add notes to our clips.

Once again, CatDV is great because I can just select a clip and write anything into the clip’s note section.

Let’s say the clip is footage of an interview. I could write in any of the keywords or questions that were asked during the interview so that, later, I can look back and see what kind of content the clip contains.

Also, the search field goes through notes, not just names, so if I used “Trinity” somewhere in a clip’s note section, typing “Trinity” into the search field would pull up that clip.

Conclusion

These are just a few things that I consider requirements from video cataloging software.

I want emphasize that I don’t have a relationship with the folks over at CatDV other than I’m a happy customer, but I like their software. It’s not perfect. For example, it can be too complex for a new user. But it certainly meets these six requirements.

If you’re looking for a solution to help you organize your video clips, you might want to consider video cataloging software (such as CatDV).

2 thoughts on “6 Requirements of Video Cataloging Software

  1. The only other option I know of is KeyFlow Pro.
    It would be interesting to compare it with CatDV.
    One thing that put me off from CatDV is that I have a lot of XDCAM and now XAVC camera source video. CatDV requires the purchase of an MXF decoder which drives up the price. KeyFlow Pro uses FFMPEG for such codecs though.

    You mention that CatDV can display multiple thumbnails. KeyFlow Pro, in addition to a thumbnail, also encodes a proxy file so you can play a representation of the clip even if the source is offline.

    1. I hadn’t heard about KeyFlow Pro. I’m downloading the demo to test it. Thanks!

      I should also mention that CatDV can make proxies too. And yes, that can be useful too.

      Thanks for the great comment!

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