How to Manage Your Digital Film Content - dummies

How to Manage Your Digital Film Content

By John Carucci

Managing your DSLR content can become somewhat overwhelming. The more often you stop and start the camera, the more files it creates. And the more of that movie footage you transfer to your computer, the more content you need to keep track of.

Worrying about the volume of movie files should never discourage you from shooting as much as you need, but it does make organization necessary.

Due to their large sizes, movie files are a bit more complicated to manage than digital photographs. Regardless of the size of your hard drive, before long you’re saving them across borders from your computer onto an external hard drive, burned to DVD, or uploaded to an online storage site. With the increasing volume and number of potential places to save them, it’s easy to lose track of your movies.

Whether your biggest thrill comes from creating content or making magic in postproduction, the inability to quickly locate specific movie files can kill your buzz. Content management is a full-time job, but you probably barely have time to shoot your movie.

Because you don’t have endless space on your hard drive and are forced to save elsewhere, you need to come up with a system that keeps track of your movie files, and do it sooner rather than later.

Film organization made simple

Knowing where each file and its content information reside is the basic goal of content management, at least from the 30,000-foot level. Closer to the ground, it’s more about adding metadata, smart tags, and determining places you intend to save, so you’ll be able to track it down when you need it.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Save important files in multiple places. This way, if your hard drive burns out, you still can pull it off your external drive, DVD, or online space.

  • Make a database. Whether you create a Word-based table or a fully customized Filemaker database, it’s important to have a searchable reference.

  • Include as much metadata as possible. The more you include, the easier it becomes to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Manage film with Adobe Elements Organizer

Not only can you keep track of your video files with Adobe Elements Organizer, but you can organize them too. Preview the content and open it directly in Premiere Elements. Elements Organizer acts as a browser that allows you to add metadata, smart tags, and keywords to help you search for files.

This comes in especially handy when you have movies on your hard drive or other external disks and need to see what’s on them. Elements Organizer lets you play back each movie directly through the program, as well as scrubbing through the clip to find exactly what you need.


Tips to help manage your film content

Whether you’re using Elements Organizer or another browser program like Adobe Bride or Extensis Portfolio, consider some of the following:

  • Using a sensible naming convention: Movies file are natively assigned an alphanumeric name like MVI_0094. This name provides little information other than letting you know it’s a movie file. Instead of relying on camera-generated names, try something like this: (Location) (subject) (Year) (Month) (Day) (take). A file named CA_SFHILL_20110130_2 translates to a San Francisco hill being shot in California on Jan. 30, 2011, and it was the second take.

  • Using keywords: Although the aforementioned filename convention helps you find a file in the future, the search ability is limited unless you want to create a filename that’s as long as a paragraph. That’s not even possible, but the point is that a filename provides general information, whereas keywords go much further into detail.

    For example, the previous filename can tell you the location, date, and subject, which are helpful but lack specifics. So if the filename refers to a San Francisco hill, the keywords may be trolley, cable car, Powell Street, elderly twins with blue hair, and so on, or simply teeth.

  • Smart tags: Take advantage of smart tagging. It adds pre-assigned tags on photo and movie files. When you have smart tagging set on auto-analyze, the program goes through the photos and video and assigns the proper tags for image quality and audio type. It can even identify people in a picture. This allows you to find whatever you pretty fast.