Auto layouts and companion images from video folders

Today we released a new updated version of Fast video cataloger (3.94) and it is available to download from http://videocataloger.com/download/

We added a new function to automatically select a layout when you either play a video or select a new video. This is pretty useful if you have limited screenspace. When you play a video you typically want to use as much as possible of the screen for the video window and when you pick videos you probably want to see as much as possible of the video list and thumbnails. This new feature is turned off by default so you will need to turn it on from the preferences and select which of your layouts to use for the different cases. Remember that you can create your own layouts really easy in the program, even if you don’t use the auto layouts I recommend that you play around with the layout feature.

Select layout automatically when playing a video

Select layout automatically when playing a video

If you have old catalogs with companion images some of these would not show in the previous versions. This has now been fixed and you should be able to see images regardless of if they were added with an old version or a new one.

You can now multiselect files for delete right from the video catalog. In general it is recommended you use the file browser for cleaning up files in your catalogs but this can still be useful if you stumble upon a bunch of videos you want to clean up quickly.

Finally we added an advanced feature for adding companion images. You can now select to only add videos from subfolders with the same name as the video. For example if you have a video in a folder called test_video.avi you can ask the program to search for companion images in a folder called test_video/.

You can now add companion files from subfolders with the same name as the video file.

You can now add companion files from subfolders with the same name as the video file.

Hope you like the update and as usual, all feedback is very welcome.

Recommended Video Tools 2015

Since we are developing a video cataloging software we are also getting a bunch of video related questions. These are often questions that require other software packages to get the job done. Here I have collected a bunch of our most frequently asked questions about video tools.

This article is written in 2015, since tools change over time this page may not be relevant or contain broken links if you are reading this a few years after 2015.

All tools recommended here are available for Windows PC.

 

What is the easiest/best free video editor software?
Easiest and simplest would be Windows Movie maker, it is available for free from Microsoft in the Windows essentials package. Windows Movie Maker is really easy to use and allows you to create videos out of photos, cut and edit videos and share them online.

VSDC Free Video Editor is a free, as in no hidden fees or advertising, non-linear video editor. It features a complete set of instruments for all-round editing and creating of videos. The tool comfortably deals with dozens of video codecs and formats, while visual effects and filters help you making the final video look as pro-like as you need. Fully customizable video editing and the native support for multiple media devices contribute to flexibility of the program.

Lightworks is professional Non-Linear Editing (NLE) software supporting resolutions up to 4K as well as video in SD and HD formats. Lightworks has been used to edit several Hollywood feature films. It has many features but there is a learning curve to get used to the program. Lightworks is available in a free version and a professional version. The free version is limited to video output resolutions of 720p or less.

 

I’m looking for the easiest/best software to split up a video or merge video’s together.
Most video editing programs can do this, however if you only want to cut out a part of the video you want a tool that does it loss-less. I.e. you don’t have to encode the video again after a section has been cut since this will decrease video quality.

SolveigMM Video Splitter is a Commercial video editor to operate with pre-compressed FLV, AVC/H264, MP4, MOV, AVCHD, MPEG-2, MKV, MPEG-1, AVI, WMV, MP3, WMA files. The editor is lossless and fast, removing unwanted parts of the video with just a few mouse clicks. It claims to keep 99% of data and only transcodes a few frames at the beginning and end of the video segments minimizing the artefacts from recompression and increasing the speed of the program.

Avidemux is a free open source video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding tasks. It supports many file types, including AVI, DVD compatible MPEG files, MP4 and ASF, using a variety of codecs. Tasks can be automated using projects, job queue and powerful scripting capabilities.

 

What tools do you recommend to convert videos between formats?
There are too many tools to mention here to get the job done. If you do a simple search on the internet you will find a bunch of tools. Most of these tools are just packaged up interfaces to the same open source tools. For most formats there are really no need to pay for a video conversion software.
HandBrake is my goto tool for converting video between nearly any format. It has been around for a very long time and is still being developed.

 

What professional video editor do you recommend?
Adobes creative cloud includes all of Adobes video tools and is easy to recommend. You can pay per month in you don’t need constant access to them.

 

New version soon…

Its been close to 5 months now since we did the latest update to Fast video cataloger. That is quite a while but I can assure you the Fast video cataloger software is still very much alive. We have just finished the testing of the lastest version and you can expect it to be uploaded this week to the site. As usual if you bought the software this is going to be a free update and I will send an email once it is available to be downloaded.

Desktop movie file discovery

When your video collection grows to one thousand videos and more it becomes hard to remember each and every video file In your collection.

Inspiration from movie file discovery

Keyword search is fine, if you know what you are looking for, but sometimes you just might just want to use your movie collection for inspiration.

For example if you have all your family videos In a collection it might just be nice to watch random videos and remember old friends, old vacation or your children growing up. If you are doing creative work you might want to use your video collection for inspiration, for example by watching random stock videos to get ideas for new designs. Fast video cataloger has the tools to do just this on overdrive.

Video discovery in Fast video cataloger 3.5

In Fast video cataloger 3.5 ( http://videocataloger.com ) we introduced three new Window types that will help you get inspiration from your movies or simply help you enjoy your video collection. We call the new windows Attract windows.

Attract Video Wall

The Attract video wall window plays random videos as a video wall. The video wall playback shows each video thumbnail in quick sequence to make it look like a video. It is kind of like if you would fast forward the entire video but with enough display time per frame to just grasp what is going on. Using the video wall makes it possible to watch and get the idea of what happens in an entire video just by watching it for a few seconds. The video wall let you watch a bunch of videos in that way at the same time, the human brain is surprisingly good an getting this information and I think it is probably the fastest way to ingest video content.

Attract video wall showing food videos

Attract video wall showing food videos

The Attract video wall takes this type of browsing to the next level by rotating in random videos. If a video is interesting, just hover the mouse above the thumbnail and the program will stay on that video. You can then right click to select or play the full video from the video wall.

Attract actors window

The Attract actor windows cycles through all actors in your video catalog one by one in an image carousel. Depending on the type of video collection you have you might now have actors set to your videos. If you don’t have any actors simply close the attract actors window and don’t use it. If you do have actors the attract actor window is a nice way to see them all. You can quickly jump to more details on the Actor by right clicking them. You can also filter out videos where the selected actor is in the cast.

Attract actor window

Attract actor window

Actors are more than people

When we did the first version of Fast video cataloger, Actors made sense and we thought of Actors as people acting in movies. The more we worked with video catalogs the more we realized that actors really could be anything that takes part in a video where you want to be able to associate more meta-data than a simple keyword. For example, if you make commercial videos, the actors can be the brand you do the commercials for. If you are doing work for hire videos that customer might be the actor and you might want to store their company information in the actor description.

Attract cover window

The Attract cover window shows random cover images as an image slideshow. In the preferences you can select if you want to show only cover images or companion images as well.

Attract companion image showing one of the dishes.

Attract companion image showing one of the dishes.

Just like with the other attract windows you can “pause” the slideshow rotation by moving the mouse cursor above the image. Right click the image to jump to its video. In the same way as Actors, a Cover image does not necessarily have to be a cover, it can be any good image representing the video.

Using layouts for video discovery

Fast video cataloger has good support for setting up different layouts and switching between them. I would recommend that you create a specific layout for the attract windows. Most of the time you might not need them but they are sure nice for the time when you want to get inspired or simply enjoy your video collection.

Note the check box to show companion images and not only covers in the attract cover window.

Note the check box to show companion images and not only covers in the attract cover window.

You can download a free trial copy of Fast video cataloger from http://VideoCataloger.com/download/. Fast video cataloger is available for Windows PC computers running Windows Vista or later.

How to find duplicate video files

Duplicate video files ( exact same copies of a file stored in different folders ), not only occupies unnecessary disk space but also makes it much harder to have an organized video collection. If you add meta-data to one video that data is not shared with the other duplicate copy.

In Fast video cataloger 3.5 we introduced a new tool to help you find duplicate videos in your catalog.

When you have a large video collection it is pretty likely you eventually will end up with multiple copies of the same video stored in different folders or on different disks.

How do you end up with duplicate video files?

There are many ways to end up with duplicate video files. Perhaps you downloaded the same file twice, moved video files from a digital camera more than once (just to be sure…), renamed a video file and then didn’t know you already had a file and so on.

How to find and clean duplicate video files

From Fast video cataloger ( http://videocataloger.com/download/ ) select then file menu and Repair. The Repair window will open, click on the “Check duplicate” tab to get to the find duplicate videos tool.

Selecting the repair tool

Selecting the repair tool

The Find duplicate video tool in fast video cataloger works on all videos you have in a catalog so there will be no need to pick the folders to search for, the program already know where all videos are stored.

Selecting the find duplicate video tab

Selecting the find duplicate video tab

From the find duplicate window tab click the Start button to start scanning your entire video catalog for duplicate video files. Depending on how many videos you have in your catalog and how many of them are duplicate this could be really quick or quite slow.

How Fast video cataloger finds duplicate files

When Fast video cataloger tries to find duplicate video files it first check the length of the video, this will rule out most videos as duplicates. It then checks the size of the video files in bytes.

Both of these operations are pretty fast but for all videos that are the same size and the same video length the program needs to do a much more thorough check to make sure the videos are really the exact same video file only in different locations.

Scanning for duplicate video files

Scanning for duplicate video files

To do this check it calculates a 256 bit checksum based on the whole video file. To calculate this checksum the program needs to read every single byte of the video file and that can take a while for large video files. The checksum is then stored in your catalog, so each file will only needs to calculate the checksum one. This also means that you can close the program and it will resume the next time where it left off. And if you have scanned for duplicates at one time it will likely be quicker doing the next scan after you have added more files to your catalog.

The algorithm used to calculate and to compare videos is the same used by several cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The risk that the program will say that two different files are the same by mistake as a result of the same checksum being generated from different video files is virtually non existing. Or to put it into context with an example:

A mass-murderer space rock happens about once every 30 million years on average. This leads to a probability of such an event occurring in the next second to about 10-15. That’s 45 orders of magnitude more probable than the collision.”

And the extra check for the size and video length reduce this risk even futher.

Since the program needs access to the actual video files to be able to compare the videos, you need to make sure you connect external USB drivers where you have videos from your catalog. If the video file is not available the program will simply ignore it, to check for missing files use the repair video tool instead.

What to do with the duplicate video files?

When the program has found the duplicate videos you get a list of the duplicates find. Click on each entry and the program will list all duplicates it found, click on the duplicate file you want to keep.

Selecting which video file to keep.

Selecting which video file to keep.

When you have gone through the list and selected the files to keep click the Merge Videos button.

File description, ratings and obviously the path and filename vill be kept for the one video file you select to keep. The keywords and actors from the other copies will be merged to the catalog entry for the one file you keep.

Duplicate videos has been merged

Duplicate videos has been merged

When the mergin is done the duplicate files will be deleted.

 

The new duplicate video file finder tool makes it easier to keep your video collection ordered.

If you have not already, go to the download page and download fast video cataloger ( http://videocataloger.com/download/ )


 

13 Performance tips for Windows applications and Fast video cataloger

Here are 13 ideas for how to improve performance when working with videos in Fast video cataloger. Fast video cataloger is normally a very fast program, but as with most programs sometimes it is not as quick as you would like to.

General performance tips for any Windows software

Make sure you have an adequately equipped computer

Fast video catloger is designed to run on a computer with 2 gb of memory and an intel i5 cpu or better. The program will use more than one cpu core if available. It will also make use of a dedicated graphics card if you have one installed, it does not have to be a state of the art graphics card, just about any dedicated card will be enough. the program will run on less than this spec but this is what I personally recommend, less than this might have a significant impact on performance.

Make sure your CPU it is not throttled

This tip applies to if you run the program on a laptop. Most, if not all, laptops have power save features that can be set to anything between performance and energy saving. Try changing the power save mode, this can have a huge performance impact. Some laptops automatically try to save energy i.e. throttles the cpu when the power cord is disconnected, try if there is a difference running on battery or plugged into the wall.

Close other running programs

Programs running in the background can take a significant chunk of performance from your cpu and put load on your disk system. If you feel Fast video cataloger is slower than usuall check the following common issues related to software:

Do you have heavy web pages loaded in your browser ( Chrome is especially evil as it fidcles with internal Windows timers )?

  • Is Windows update running?
  • Do you have a scheduled virus scan running?
  • Is Windows defragmentation running?
  • Any other heavy program running that you usually don’t have running?

Run windows disk defragmenter

If your hard drive is fragmented it will slow down all I/O. When indexing video files fast video catalog uses the hard drive ALOT, a fragmented drive will significantly reduce efficiency. Run the Disk Defragmenter tool from accessories / system tools.

Tips specific to Fast video cataloger

Store your catalog on an SSD

Fast video cataloger saves changes to the catalog as they happen, there is never a need to save your catalog that always happens automatically. Try to place your video catalog file on the fastest device you have. Preferable an SSD drive or the internal hard drive. Video files can be stored on external drives as they are accessed way slower.

Turn off virus scanner on the video catalog

Turn off virus scanning for the vcat file extension. If you are an advanced user and know what you are doing you can most likely also turn off virus scanning for your video folder.

NAS storage

Storing video files on a nas device is recommended and a good idea. The vcat file should preferable be stored on your fastest device and the internal drive is faster than a NAS. However, if you want to access the catalog from several computers you might need to have the catalog on a shared NAS device. In this case make sure to run automatic backups on the folder where the vcat file is stored. Automatic backup takes a copy of the catalog file every time it is written to, this will happen a lot and will waste space on your NAS as well as reduce performance.

Do not index videos while browsing

You can index video in the background as you are working with Fast video cataloger. However, indexing video is a heavy operation, it typically accesses the disk more and uses more CPU power than just playing the video. If you feel the program is sluggish simply pause the indexing process while you are working with the software and resume it when you are not using your computer.

Hide windows that you do not need

Fast video cataloger has a number of different windows that each has a specific function. Some of these windows does heavy computations in the background. Always hide windows that you do not use. The attract windows and the file organizer windows are the heaviest. The video player window only takes performance when it is playing a video.

Set the right size to video frames

You can set the size of video frame thumbnails. Setting a video frame size that is larger than the resolution of the video is possible but pretty pointless, you bet the same result from the zoom function. The larger size of video frames you capture the larger your catalog and the more memory the program will need and the more cpu it will need to decompress the video frame thumbnails.

Set the right number of frames to capture

You can set the intervals between the video frames when you capture. The more frames you capture per video the more memory and performance will be required.

Make sure companion images are of a reasonable size

Fast video cataloger has support for adding companion images to videos. These images will be displayed in the attract window and in the companion images window. There is no limit on the size of the companion images but adding huge images, like what you get by default from a high res digital camera, will take time to decompress.

Disable Sync to file folder

Fast video cataloger has the option to automatically sync the file view to where the video that click in the video catalog is stored. You can enable this feature from the preferences and it will not work if the file organizer window is hidden. However, when the file view browses to the location of the video it will need to access the disk and this can take time, especially if the disk has powered down, then it can take several seconds.