In Fast video cataloger 8, we have made a significant improvement to what was probably the best video indexing engine available. In the previous post I gave a high-level overview of the improvements, this text will just go into some more details about the changes we have made in version 8 and why they are good.
A quick summary is that indexing is more stable than before while still being just as fast. If you just want great software to organize all your videos in one single place you can download Fast video cataloger from https://videocataloger.com
The video indexing process
Our definition of video indexing is processing a video to get metadata from the video and adding it to the video catalog. Here is how it works, step by step:
- The user adds videos or folders with videos to the list of videos to be indexed.
- Users add known metadata that is known for all the videos in the list
- User clicks start, and all videos are put in the index queue together with their shared metadata.
- The index queue is processed video by video, failed videos are put in a failed list.
- The video is opened and scanned from beginning to end. In this phase, Fast video cataloger extracts thumbnails as defined in preferences.
- Metadata is optionally extracted from the video file using media info
- Metadata is optionally extracted from the video file using the Windows shell
- XMP Metadata is optionally extracted from the video file
- Metadata is optionally extracted from .nfo files.
- Companion images are scanned for as defined in preferences
- Video is added to the catalog with its metadata. And we repeat step 4 until all videos are processed.
How thumbnails are extracted
A separate process for stability
Fast video cataloger uses directshow to extract videos. Each video will require different types of filters and different types of codecs. Like all software, there will be bugs. To make sure a bug in any of the software used to extract frames from one video is affecting the following one each video is run in a new clean process and at the end of the frame extraction that process is closed down.
Directshow Filter graph
When the indexing starts a new directshow filter graph is built. The filter graph includes our custom filters to extract images instead of rendering the video to the screen.
Directshow has support to automatically use the codecs installed on your system. This is both good and bad. It is good because new video formats can be added to a system without us having to even be aware of it. Video vendors can simply provide new filters and they will work in all software supporting directshow. It is bad because installed software we are not even aware of can introduce issues with indexing. There is also the uncertainty of what software to use when more than one filter is installed that handles the same format. Fast video cataloger can use the default way to build filter graphics ( in preferences, on the index tab, use directshow ) but by default, we build our own filter graphs. Because of this, the frame extraction works on your computer even if you have misconfigured or competing directshow filters installed.
If you do want to index videos that are not supported by the built-in filters make sure to change the setting and make sure you have installed 64-bit filters.
Hooking into the indexing process
Fast video cataloger has a scripting interface. New in version 8 is the ability to hook into the indexing process. Using the scripting API you can easily set up a callback to be called at the end of the indexing process or as part of the process for each thumbnail being extracted.
Machine learning and object detection
The callback to process the thumbnails allows you to do things like machine learning to process all the frames as the video is being indexed, and perhaps add extra metadata or even alter the thumbnails for the video.
The callback at the end of the indexing process allows you to add your own custom scrapers or crawlers to add more metadata for the video.
The new indexing process in Fast video cataloger is Fast, stable, and extensible. You can quality index large lists of videos and leave the program to do the work without supervision. The indexing process can also be extended to suit your specific needs. Download fast video cataloger from https://videocataloger.com/
Fast video cataloger lets you get an instant overview of a video through a thumbnail video wall. Core of this feature is the integrated video indexer. The video indexer can automatically extract thumbnails from a list of videos and more. It can also extract metadata from the videos and more. You can configure the video indexer to your needs from the indexer preferences page and more.
I have just uploaded version 3.82 of Fast video cataloger.
You can download this version from the download page at http://videocataloger.com/download/
If you are a customer you should have already gotten an email earlier this week about the new version, a free update for all customers as usuall.
This upgrade, from the previous 3.64 release, contains a whole lot of changes behind the scenes. We have refactored the whole backend of the video catalog system in preparation for future planned features. We have also done an extensive pass on performance so more of the program is executed in parallell on multiple threads. If you have a good computer you should notice that the program is more responsive now, most systems should now be limited by disk I/O speed.
On to the details…
We have added a “connect” dialog that will allow you to connect to a Fast video cataloger server. Please note that this server is stil in beta testing and only available upon request.
We have fixed screen alignment issues in fullscreen mode on Windows 8.1 machines with high dpi screens.
We have added an option to let the program recognized any type as a video or photo files as specified in the preferences. Note that you obviously need to have the correct codecs installed that supports the file extension.
We have added a few more new recognized video file types; ts, tr, trp
Finally we made some small tweaks to the user interface. If you adjust the zoom factor it will snap to make sure you can easily use the full width of the window. I also added a subtle fade to the thumbnails and rewrote population of the thumbnail window image by image so we can display them quicker than before.
Fast video cataloger has a new feature that will help you browse for videos faster than ever before. This is probably the fastest way possible to quickly browse and discover videos in large collections.
Right now I am putting the finishing touches to a new (version 3.20) update to Fast video cataloger with two major new features.
I’ll write about the first feature here today, the fastest way yet in Fast video cataloger to scan huge number of videos from your collection.
The new version will be out in a week from now. Most likely when you are reading this the new version is already available for download from https://videocataloger.com/download.
I call the new feature Video wall and it has its own window. You might have seen other video walls and this is close but still not quite the same.
The Video Wall window cycles through all captured video frames from the current selection of videos.
Since it is not playing the actual video but rather quickly cycling through your selected video frames it can cover a whole video in a matter of seconds, and you can add more frames yourself wherever it is needed from the video. In other words the frames does not have to be equally spaced throughout the video, where interesting things happen you can add more frames and where nothing of interest happens you can have few frames.
There are a bunch of other advantages of not actually playing the videos.
It can be done without having access to the source videos, for example if they are stored on an external device. Doing it this way is much faster and far more efficient than playing the video. First of all video formats are not optimized with the goal of being able to fast-forward through they are optimized to be played in order frame by frame. To use the actual video source would require a lot of extra data to be read and it would not work for some format. It would also require a bunch of memory and it would probably kill or at least severely burn you CPU.
With the new video wall window you can easily have more than a hundred videos playing.
The video wall uses several hardware threads and I spend quite some time to optimize it for performance. Actually the code is probably not how the text book says you should do WPF applications but the result is way faster than the first implementation that followed the book.
If you are using a laptop on battery you might want to hide the video wall window as it does put a constant load on the system preventing it from ever saving power.
Video wall window
The Video wall window can switch between the different size of video frames right click on a video and select Small, Medium, Large or Very Large view in the View submenu.
I am pretty happy with this new function, why not try it for yourself I think you will like it.
My name if Fredrik Lönn and I am the author of the Fast video cataloger program.
I want to share how I go about setting up a new video catalog from scratch. I’ll also share some tips that will lead to you having a searchable and fast video thumbnail catalog of your own.
Create Catalog dialogue
Let’s get started.
Create a brand new catalog in Fast video cataloger by selecting Catalog / 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 by approximately 1GB per 1000 videos you add. The catalog is not kept in memory, so you can have a catalog much larger than your computer’s memory.
I try to store my catalog on my fastest disk drive if possible an SSD disk or a local hard drive. Storing the catalog on a secondary device or a NAS drive is possible, but it will slow down the software. If you store it on a NAS drive, make sure to turn off automatic backups on the folder with the catalog file.
Then go and pick you catalog folder, name your catalog file and create the catalog.
Now you have an empty catalog. From this point onward, there is no need to save the catalog. Everything will be saved automatically whenever changes are made.
For your catalog to be interesting you obviously need videos. But before adding any, let us have a look at some important settings you should check 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 of all video thumbnails in your catalog.
And note that larger thumbs will take longer to create, load and they will make your catalog file larger.
I use 320×200 as the resolution for all my catalogs. 320 is half the size of a standard definition TV frame which I find to be a good compromise between size and the details you can see in the thumb.
Selecting a higher resolution than the video resolution is pointless; it’s better to use the built-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 let’s add videos to the catalog.
Click on the “Add videos” tab to start adding videos.
I recommend that you keep your 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 a 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 subfolder 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.