The evolving documentary maker: Database development

Clip-database-image-swEvery film maker has the same problem: Millions of clips, no comprehensive way to access data about them

Apple’s Final Cut Pro software has a database within it, but it’s specific to the project you’re working on.

When I am working on a film, I’m pulling elements from many different projects into the new work. For example, I might be pulling in five different performances by the same group, and stills from 20 different sources.

In each of the original projects I might have stored information on each clip or photo. But when I then grab the folder of clips from that project and put it into a new one, I have to ID those clips all over again.

For many years I’ve used File Maker Pro to easily create databases of all sorts to help me get my hands on all manner of information.

So today I created a new database which will allow me to access all of the clip and photo information. Yes, it’s a pain in the ass to copy and paste the info from each project as I go along, but doing so will open possibilities yet to be discovered.

For now the database is very simple, but it will evolve as my needs change. I will likely add fields to indicate which hard drives store which projects, what general heading the clip falls under (interviews, location shots, time lapse, etc.), and what format the project is in. The transcripts can be added from interviews so that I can go to text on a particular topic in an instant and find the quote that works best. There might be a field for issues (poor lighting, wind noise, etc.).

I will be storing this document in the cloud so that I can add to it from any computer I might be working at, and backing it up regularly to avoid file corruption.

Time will tell if this new system will prove practical. But I suspect on the documentary projects, this will become a life saver.


~ by Daniel Buckley on January 3, 2013.

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