10 tips for working with video files

Working with video doesn’t have to be slow, painful or frustrating. Irrespective of which video manager solution 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 and organize 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 remain 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 have 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 your videos 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.

13 Performance tips for Windows applications and Fast video cataloger

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

General performance tips for any Windows software

Make sure you have an adequately equipped computer

Fast video cataloger is designed to run on a PC with at least 2 GB of memory, and an intel i5 cpu or faster. 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. Note that it does not have to be a state of the art graphics card, just about any dedicated card will be enough. The software 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 is not throttled

This tip applies especially 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, as 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 amount of performance from your CPU and also put a strain on your disk system. If you feel Fast video cataloger is slower than usual, check the following common issues related to software:

Do you have heavy web pages loaded in your browser. Chrome is especially awful at this, as it fiddles 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 the windows disk defragmenter

If your hard drive is fragmented it will slow everything down. When indexing video files, fast video catalog uses the hard drive a lot, and 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, so there is no need to save your catalog. That always happens automatically. Try to place your video catalog file on the fastest device you have. Preferably an SSD drive or 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 preferably 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 have a specific function. Some of these windows carry out heavy computations in the background. So 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.

 

Attract video windows in the fast video cataloger roadmap

We are constantly working to improve the fast video cataloger software. Among the most recent improvement are the Video wall Window and the ability to have a bunch of user layouts that you can quickly switch between.

Here is a little insight into what we are currently doing to improve the program, all the things we have planned are the result from user feedback. If you have ideas on how to improve the program feel free to contact us and share your suggestion, we read all mails!

The video wall allows you to watch a time laps view of all your videos, it is the quickest way that I know of to browse through a lots of videos. The video wall is actually a first step to the next major update to Fast video cataloger, what we are working on right now. Video wall was supposed to be part of this update but it turned out so well that we did an intermediate release with just this function (try it yourself by downloading fast video cataloger http://videocataloger.com/download ).

The next focus in our roadmap is to add attract windows for actors, covers and videos. The attract windows will present your video catalog automatically in an interesting way. The attract windows will help you enjoy and discover your content and I am pretty excited about this new feature. You will probably want to setup a special layout for the attract windows.

When we have completed the attract windows the next thing on our list is a new tool to check for duplicate content. If you have a large catalog it is pretty easy to have the same video saved from two different folder. We want to add a tool to automatically detect this case and merge the two videos in the catalog.

After that we will do a pass on improving search and filtering. We have a bunch of ideas on what could be better but we have not yet decided on the details, again, feedback is very welcome.

Organizing video files with Fast video cataloger

The inevitable problem with video editing software

As you store more and more video files, it becomes increasingly difficult to find the ones that you’re looking for. As video files are often quite large, many people store them across more than one hard drive. Even if you’re 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?

The result? Finding specific videos is incredibly difficult, as you first need to find the file and then typically play the video to make sure it’s the right file. Fast video cataloger solves 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? Once you’re using your video editor, that’s fine. But how do you find the videos you want to edit? I’ll show you some best practices to tame 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 as a video manager?

You can use Windows Explorer to organize your video files, and 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 Windows Explorer, it’s really hard to get an overview of a video since each video is only represented as one small thumbnail. Tagging is slow cumbersome, and there’s no way to 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. This inevitably becomes unsustainable and impractical.

How to set up 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 easy to remembers rules for 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 set up 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. A little planning now can save an enormous amount of pain in the future.

Organizing your 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 in a range of different scenarios.

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.

Easy video management with the File Organizer window

File organizer window in Fast Video Cataloger

Sorting your 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 will find a text field called “move autotag:”, this tag is automatically applied to every file you move with drag and drop from within the program. There is also an option to “hide video with autotag”. 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

File organizer preferences page

Using these function you can filter out the video you want to sort to a folder and simply drag them to where you want the file. Every file that has been sorted will disappear from the list, and 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 new devices or a new root folder while automatically tagging and updating the catalog.

Moving videos to a new device

What if you move files 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.

Let’s start with the easy case, a 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.

As this setting is stored in Preferences, it will be saved across program runs. If you want to change the path stored in your catalog, say files have 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 course 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.

Conclusion

Fast video cataloger is a great video organizer, and video catalog software. If you use the integrated video browser, archive and repair tools, it becomes easy to work with files and keep your catalog in sync. You can download a free trial version of Fast video cataloger from https://videocataloger.com/download/

How to change external disk Windows drive letters

How do you change Windows drive letters for  external disks, USBs or other storage devices? It’s actually quite simple.

Fast video cataloger uses absolute paths to videos that include the drive letter from where the video was added. If that drive letter changes for some reason, you can easily remap one root path to another from the video player tab in preferences ( look at “For each video in this folder”) or from the popup dialog that will be displayed when you try to play the video. Another option is to use the repair tool to permanently change the paths of the videos.

When you add more videos from where you have added videos before, you should make sure the drive letter is the same as before. This can, for example, happen if you have many usb drives and have changed the ports they use, if you added more devices to your computer or even if you added videos from another computer.

It is actually quite easy to tell Windows (Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1) which drive letter a device should get if the default is not what you want.

From the start command line ( Press Windows + R) and type “diskmgmt.msc” to open Windows Disk management tool.

Right click on the device that you want to change drive letter for click on Change Drive Letter and Paths.

Changing the external disk Windows drive letters

Do not change the drive letter of your booting device, i.e. Drive C:.

On the dialog click “Add“, “Change“, or “Remove” depending on what you want to do.

If you have programs running that use the device, for example Windows explorer with the drive expanded, you will need to close them first.

That’s it – it’s surprisingly easy to change drive letters in Windows.

I recommend you setup your USB devices so all files from one drive are added with the same drive letter.