How to choose a video database solution
When considering to choose a video database solution there are a number of questions you need to consider. Here is a number of questions to help you evaluate any video database based on your requirements.
Disclosure: We, VideoStorm Sweden AB, are the developer of Fast video cataloger one of the possible solutions for any company video database solution. You can download a free trial version of the software from this url: http://videocataloger.com/download/
Do you need a company solution?
Is the video database for personal use or for a company? If it is for personal use you might have a look at vidine, a great solution for personal videos.
Personal or professional video database?
Are you using it for movies or custom videos clips?
If you are looking for a personal media center to watch movies there are cheap software designed just for that. Consider Plex (https://www.plex.tv/) or Kodi (https://kodi.tv/), both great software that also let you automatically scrape data from known movie databases. There is a huge difference between software designed for movies and for custom video clips. Media centers are great for known movies and where the focus is more on watching the movie than searching between and inside movies. Select a video database solution that is designed for the types of videos you are primary going to keep in your database.
Do you need to search individual video scenes?
Do you need to assign keywords to individual video scenes and search for them? Do you need to quickly browse scenes inside videos? Do you need mark new points in a video as a scene?
Do you care about speed?
Slow software is frustrating to use and it will take you longer to get your job done. Desktop software will always be faster than any a cloud solution. Desktop software that can make use of multiple CPU cores and the GPU will be faster than software that cannot.
Are you using Windows? Or a mix of systems?
Select a video database solution that is designed for Windows if you are a Windows user. Cross platform solutions is not going to take advantage of the hardware you have and be less ideal than a solution build directly for the operating system you are using.
Speed is important for a software to work in practice.
Do you care about security?
If you care about security you will want to pick a solution that allow protection. Protection of the video database as well as the video clips and can play encrypted video clips without first having to decrypt them. Even if not all videos need to be protected it might be good to have that option for videos you do not want to spread outside of your company.
Do you need to add extra meta data with your videos?
Do you have extra data to store with your videos like pictures and notes?
How many people need to access the database simultaneous?
Do many people need to write to the video database at the same time. Do many people need to read from the catalog at the same time. Considering how the video database will be used will not determine the software to use but also the setup of that software and the guidelines for your users.
Do you need to make adjustments or a custom solution?
Off the shelf software will always be the cheaper option compared to a custom video database. A custom solution can actually be extremely expensive and will likley result in a worse solution than an off the shelf software adjusted to your needs. Make sure the software you decide on can be customized the way you need it to. Can it be scripted? Can you add custom meta data? Can you assign custom keywords? Can it use all your screens?
Why considering Fast video cataloger as a video database solution?
Fast video cataloger is a fast custom video database solution for Windows that allow you to index and search videos as well as individual scenes. It is easy to setup and evaluate. Download a free trial version and feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need a longer evaluation period.
Working with video doesn’t have to be slow, painful or frustrating. Irrespective of which video software you choose to work with, there are steps you can take to make the process quicker and easier.
1. Always use Fast video cataloger to find (and move) video files you care about
Move video files by dragging them from the video catalog to the folder where you want to store the file. When moving files from inside Fast video cataloger your catalog will always be consistent with your file system.
2. Create a dedicated file organizing layout
Fast video cataloger has support for multiple layouts and you can quickly switch between them from the windows/layout menu or shortcut keys (F5-f12). When working with video files you typically want other windows open than when you are searching and browsing your video catalog. To use a new layout first select the layout, arrange the windows as you like them and select “Save current layouts”. Layouts will be saved across program runs.
3. Use the autotag feature
When a file is moved by drag n drop from the catalog view, an autotag can applied to the video. In preferences (on the File Organizer tab) you can set the autotag text and you can also decide to hide all videos that has been autotagged. Hiding is useful when sorting a large list of videos in your catalog and want to go through each and every one of them. In this case, when every video has been moved the list will be empty.
4. Move companion files with videos
Companion files are supporting files in the same folder as a video. A typical example of a companion file is a video cover image. When you drag a video from the catalog list to a new folder the companion files can follow automatically. In preferences check the “move companion image” option on the “file organizer” tab. You can also specify a file pattern for what files be moved with the video file.
5. Sync to folder
In preferences there is an option called “Autosync to videofolder”. When this option is checked the folder window will automatically switch folder when you select a video in the catalog to the folder of the selected video. This is really useful when, for example, adding companion files from video folders. Note, however, that the program can add the companion files automatically during indexing if that option is checked.
6. Switch to Thumbnail view
The file pane in the file organizer can display files in different views just like windows explorer. Right click on an empty part of the file window and change the view from the view menu.
7. Hide File organizer when not needed
If you are not working with organizing files or similar, hiding the file organizer will improve performance. When the file organizer window is accessing your computers hard drive to present lists of files it can slow down the program, especially in thumbnail mode if the thumbs needs to be generated. If the file organizer is hidden there will be no performance issue.
8. Archive videos you seldom need
Use the archive function to archive videos you seldom view to external disk. Label the external archive media with the archive tool and put a sticker on it with that label. Now it will be easy to know what files are on which device. You can now browse your full collection and when playing you just load the right external media to enjoy the old videos.
9. Use your favorite video tool in combination with Fast with Cataloger
Want to run a video tool on a video file? Create a custom action from the action tab in preferences.
10. Rename files from the video catalog
You can rename video files directly from the catalog list. Simply click on the name to change the title of the video. The video file name will automatically be renamed to match the new name of the video.
As you store more and more video files, it becomes increasingly difficult to find the video files you are looking for. As video files are generally large I assume you, like most people, store them across more than one hard drive. If you are not doing that today, you probably will be in the not so distant future. Perhaps some of these disks are not even connected to your PC at all times? Finding specific videos is especially troublesome since you first need to find the file and then typically play the video to make sure its the right file. Fast video cataloger solves all of these problems, and more. But how do you ensure your catalog is in sync with your video files? What if a file is deleted, renamed or moved? I’ll show you some best practice to order your video file collection using Fast video cataloger, and how to maintain consistency between the video files and your video catalog.
What’s wrong with using windows explorer?
You can use Windows Explorer to organize your video files, in fact if you have less than 100 videos this might be the best solution, so there’s no need to waste time learning a new tool. The problem with Windows Explorer is that it is a general file tool, and not really made for working with videos. In Widows Explorer it is really hard to get an overview of a video since each video is only represented as one small thumbnail. Tagging is cumbersome and you can not tag part of the video file. Since it is a tool for managing files, each file has one position in a folder hierarchy and that is probably the natural way to organize your files. However, using just one folder structure for your files is pretty hard, often more than one folder makes sense for a file and a set folder structure requires you to be really strict and diligent to maintain order and avoid chaos. Typically organizing files like this end up with folders like; new_video, unsorted, etc.
How to setup your video folder structure
So, even if Windows explorer is not the best tool to organize your videos, the files do need to be stored somewhere. I suggest you decide on a rule for how you are going to store your files, preferably using a simple system. If you have more than one drive, make some rule on what goes to which drive. Select a folder structure that is clear and easy to remember so you never need to think about to which folder a file belongs. For example, you can have a folder structure based on Date of shoot, Main actor, production company, site, customer requesting the shoot or invoice id. How you setup your system depends on what types of videos you have and your personal preferences. Also consider what will happen if your video collection grows out of the capacity of your device, does the structure support some kind of natural split? The important thing is to have a clear strategy of where to store the files, you do not need to decide on a folder to make it easy to find the files.
Organizing video files with Fast video cataloger
When you keep your files in Fast video cataloger you can set keyword tags to videos or even individual video frames. You also get an instant overview of the whole video without playing and fast forwarding through the video. Videos can be stored on different devices and you can tag and search even if the device with the videos is not connected, the only requirement is that your catalog is accessible. I keep my catalog on an SSD drive and most of my videos on slow usb drives.
File and Folder view in Fast video cataloger
But what if you move a video file? Then your video catalog will go out of sync! Even if you can search and get an overview of the video in Fast video cataloger you can no longer play it. Fast video cataloger has a number of tools to keep your catalog consistent and to fix it if the catalog becomes inconsistent. Fast video cataloger has a file and folder view, the File organizer, very much like Windows explorer. If you use the integrated file browser the program will make sure the catalog is kept consistent with the file system. If you remove a video file from the integrated file browser the video will be automatically removed from your catalog. If you rename a video file it will be renamed in your catalog as well.
File organizer window in Fast video cataloger
Sorting video files
A common requirement is to organize your files into different folders. Search for the files to be sorted and simply drag entries from the Video catalog to a folder in the File browser where you want to move the file. Fast video cataloger has a little known feature to help with this. In Preferences on the “File organizer” tab you find a text field called “move autotag:”, this tag is automatically applied to every file you move with drag n drop from within the program. There is also a an option “hide video with autottag”. When this is checked every file that has the autotag will be hidden from the catalog. ( IMPORTANT: Do remember to turn off the function or remove the tag when done or you might wonder why some of your videos disappeared from your catalog )
File organizer preferences page
Using these function you can filter out the video you want to sort to folder and simply drag them to where you want the file. Every file that has been sorted will disapear fom the list, when the list is empty you are done.
Archiving video files
When you have video files that you no longer access frequently you might want to archive them to a secondary storage device. This might be common, for example, when you have completed a video project. The archive function is available from the Archive menu. The archiving function copies or moves video files to a new devices or a new root folders while automatically tagging and updating the catalog.
Moving to a new device
What if you movedfiles from outside the program for some reason? There are two common cases when this happens, either you simply moved or renamed videos from windows explorer or you have mounted an external storage device to another drive letter than when you originally added the file to your catalog. Lets start with the easy case, an usb drive got a different drive letter than before, F: instead of G:. In Preferences, under the “Video player” tab you have two settings. “For each video in this folder”, this is the path you want to remap, in our example you would enter G: here. In the field called “Also try playing from here” you enter F:\. This setting will not change the actual catalog but every time the program fails to open a file starting with the G: path it will try from the F: path as well. Since this setting is in Preferences it will be saved across program runs. If you want to change the path stored in your catalog, say files has been moved on a device or you have renamed a folder, you fix this with the Repair tool under File / Repair. This tool will scan your entire video catalog and check that every video file has a valid path. Then you can point to another location and let the Repair tool search for them and automatically fix the paths. Of cource if only one file has been moved, the above is kind of overkill, simply select the video in the catalog view and enter the new path in the video details window.
Fast video cataloger is a good video organizer, and a great tool for organizing video files. If you use the intergrated video browser, archive and repair tools it is easy to work with files and keep your catalog in sync. You can download a free trial version of Fast video cataloger from http://videocataloger.com/download/
Today I want to show you how to find those special video moments instantly using Fast video cataloger!
But, first some background…
By annotating your catalog with keyword tags, or as it is called in the Fast video cataloger program, keywording, you make the search process more powerful. Remember the search, browse and find method ( http://videocataloger.com/how-to-search-browse-and-quickly-find-a-video-clip-in-your-video-file-collection/ )?
Search results on scenes
In Fast video cataloger you can set keyword tags to a video or to a specific time in the video, which we call a Scene. When you set keywords to a video none of the individual scenes in that video is tagged, more on that later.
Remember to set default keywords to videos when you add them to your catalog. You can always do keywording on already added videos but the habit of setting default keywords when videos are added is a big time saver.
Keywording in Fast video cataloger is done from the keywording tab.
Set the radio button to “Tag Video” when a Keyword applies to one or more videos, for example videos from a safari or from a whole season of a serie. Then select the files you want to tag from the Video Catalog window. You select multiple videos in this list by holding down Shift or Ctrl while selecting. All videos selected, marked with green, will get the keyword you enter in the keywording tab.
Keywords you have used before will appear in the suggestion list, you can click on the words in this list instead of typing them in.
Click the filter button to open the advanced filter dialog window and then the Filter on Keywords tab. When you filter on keywords, the video catalog window display the videos that are tagged with at least one of your selected keywords.
Keywording video scenes
To set a keyword to a specific scene in a video, click the radio button “Tag selected scenes”. Click the scene thumbnail(s) you want to keyword. Multi select scenes by holding down Ctrl or Shift when you click on scene thumbnails. If you just want to select a scene thumbnail hold down the Ctrl key and the video will not start playing, which otherwise is the standard behavior for clicks on video scenes. Next, type or select your keyword for the scene and press Enter.
Video scene thumbnails with keywords are rendered in a different tint on the thumbnail text overlay. When you hover your mouse pointer above the overlay you see the keywords for that scene.
The “scene search” tab lets you search for scenes in a very smooth manner. Type the keyword and press enter to search for the scenes or simply choose from the suggestions.
Scene search is one of the features in Fast video cataloger I like the most!
You will get the result of the scene search in the “scene search” window. Your result may contain scenes from any number of videos. You can play any of the different videos from the scene time by clicking on the video scene thumbnail. Scene search is really great for finding those special moments!
To open the whole video with the scene you right click a thumbnail and select “go to video”.
I’ll show you the easy three steps to find a video clip in a large video file collection.
Fast video cataloger ( http://www.videocataloger.com/ ) is the perfect tool for the job, it will help you find videos quicker than ever before.
Fast video cataloger was created around the idea of using a combination of searching and visual browsing to find videos.
The human vision system has evolved to excel at recognizing patterns, humans are generally better at this than modern computers. Given that we are so good at this you would assume it is a pretty good idea to use your eyes to find videos. And you would be right!
Browse through multiple videos in seconds
The search, browse and find method employed in Fast video cataloger is really simple and consists of three basic steps.
- Search. Use a search criteria ( For example a keyword search ) to filter out manageable subset of videos from your entire catalog.
- Browse. Look at the Image that represents the videos in the program to further narrow down your search
- Find. Click on videos that might be what you are looking for. You will get a thumbnail timeline of the whole video. If this was not the video you were looking for, repeat at 2.
Using this simple process you can easily manage a collection of thousands of videos. Use this technique to for example quickly find reference materials.
Try it yourself and see how well it works.
The Search step (1) in Fast video cataloger is done by clicking the “Filter” icon. You can search on keywords, part of a path, actors, and much more. When you are adding videos to your catalog remember to set basic keywords in the add videos tab.
The Browse step (2) is done by browsing the videos images. In Fast video cataloger each video has one image that represents the whole video. This is automatically set to the first automatically captured thumbnail in the video when it is added. But, you can and should change the thumbnail later if the first is not a good representation. To change video image simply Right-click any thumbnail and select “use as video thumbnail”. You can even set the video image to be the cover image of the video. When you view he video list you can do it in list mode or icon mode. In icon mode only the video images are displayed, this helps you to fit more videos on the screen at the same time. If you are using the list view, remember that you can change the width of any column, including the video image.
The Find step (3) is helped by the fact that Fast video cataloger automatically extract thumbnails when a video is added to the catalog to create a timeline. You can easily refine the thumbnail list. Remove thumbnails that don’t make sense and add new ones from the video player by clicking the camera icon. You can also use the “burst capture” mode to add a bunch of closely spaced thumbnails for a shorter slice of the video, just right click on a thumbnail and select “burst capture”.
As you play with your video collection it is easy to add more keywords and refine the thumbs. This will make this process even better as your collection matures.
My name if Fredrik Lönn and I am the author of the Fast video cataloger program ( http://www.videocataloger.com ).
I want to share how I go about setting up a new video catalog from scratch. I’ll share some tips that will lead to you having a searchable and fast video thumbnail catalog.
Create Catalog dialogue
Let’s get started…
Create a brand new catalog in Fast video cataloger by selecting File / New.
First you need to decide where to store your video catalog file. Click the pick catalog folder button.
You can store your catalog anywhere, it does not have to be together with your video clips and the catalog file can be moved to another location at any time.
The size of your catalog depends on a bunch of factors but expect your catalog to grow with about 1GB per 1000 videos you add. The catalog is not kept in memory so you can have a catalog much larger than your computers memory.
I try to store my catalog on my fastest disk drive, if possible an SSD disk or a local harddrive. Storing the catalog on a secondary device or a NAS is possible, but it will slow down the software. If you store it on a NAS make sure to turn off automatic backups on the folder with the catalog file.
Go on and Pick you catalog folder, name your catalog file and create the catalog.
Now you have an empty catalog. From this point there is no need to save the catalog. It will always be saved automatically saved whenever you make changes to it.
For your catalog to be interesting you obviously need videos. But, before adding videos let us have a look at some important preferences you should setup before adding videos.
Open the Preferences dialog from the File menu and go to the Video indexer tab.
In the preferences you can decide how large thumbnails you want to capture from your videos, “Resize video-frame to be”.
I recommend you to keep the same size all videos in your catalog.
Larger thumbs will take longer to create, load and they will make your catalog file larger.
I use 320×200 as resolution for all my catalogs. 320 is half the size of a standard definition TV frame which I find to be a good tradeoff between size and the details you can see in the thumb.
Selecting a Higher resolution than the video resolution is pointless; better you use the build-in scaling instead.
Next, select the default interval you want between each captured video frames, “Capture video-frame after” and “Then capture every“. These values you can and probably should change per video batch you add to your catalog.
Too many thumbnails for a video file make it hard to get an “at a glance” overview while too far between thumbnails risk that you miss important events in the video.
I usually set this to 60s for the first frame and 30s between frames. I then add specific frames with key moments per video using the “Camera” button in the video player and the “Burst capture mode” (Right click on a video thumbnail frame).
Now we are done with the default preferences, click OK to close the dialog and lets add videos to the catalog.
Click on the “Add videos” tab to start adding videos.
I recommend that you keep you video files on a slower USB or NAS drive, I have and use both.
The program will work at full speed regardless of where your video files are and personally I can find better use for my main hard drive than storing large video files.
It is also good to have a place where I can store my videos with enough space so I don’t have to move them around later when I run out of space. If you happen to have your videos on an internal disk, don’t worry for now, we can sort that later.
When you add videos, you can just add your root video folder and the program will find all videos there. However, I recommend that you don’t do that, there is a better way.
You probably already have your videos ordered in some type of sub folder structure, based on genre, actors, date of videos or something else (do let me know).
Add videos from one subfolder at a time. Select a subfolder and when you have added that subfolder also set relevant keywords for all videos in that folder before clicking “start” to begin indexing.
Doing it this way takes a bit longer. You can prepare the next video folder as the previous ones are being added to the catalog. But, by doing it this way you also get basic searchable tags for your entire catalog, which is a great start to have a great searchable video catalog.
Now, go ahead and create your own catalog and if you have any feedback or tips to make this guide better, please let me know.