Electronic Log Notes, The Final Chapter

Last time I described a problem I had linking up digital shoot notes with the clips in my edit bin, I promised I would explain what I was trying to do and how I solved the problem.

Before I get into the details, remember that this project had a short deadline. Sometimes, the challenge of solving a problem distracts from actually getting an edit done. In a situation like this, I like to set a deadline for solving the problem. If I can’t get it done in that amount of time, I have to go with Plan B. Otherwise, I might not get the work done.

Now, on to the process.

As I mentioned before, once I had imported my clips into my project (I was using Adobe Premiere Pro), I exported an XML of the bin of clips. From there I used an application called Shot Notes X from Kopto Studios.

Shot Notes X takes a digital log file which, with luck, contains a piece of unique information for each clip that can correlate with each clip in your exported bin XML. It then merges the log data with the clip data, creating a new bin XML that can be imported into Premiere Pro and linked with the original media.

The key to the process is the unique piece of data that links the two files. This could be timecode, a filename or a clip name. In this case, the person doing the notes didn’t have access to timecode so it could only be based on a clip name.

Unfortunately, this data wasn’t matching. I needed to look at what was wrong. I was able to grab a copy of the log in a format called CSV (Comma Separated Values). This means that every piece of data in the log is separated by commas and each “clip” is on a new line.

While I could open the CSV in a text editor to look at the data, I find it easier to import CSVs into a spreadsheet. Once I did this, I could look at each line. I quickly found two problems: 1. The clip name prefix was missing one letter and some clip names had become hyphenated; 2. One of the columns was misnamed. Even if the clips had matched, some of the notes wouldn’t have come across.

(If you aren’t sure what the log notes are supposed to look like, Shot Notes X has a template you can export to see how the file is supposed to be laid out.)

Since the data was in a spreadsheet application, it was easy to do a search-and-replace to correct the clip names and rename the column header. Then, I was able to export to a new CSV file. Once I imported the new CSV and the existing bin XML, all the clips matched up. I was able to create the new XML, import it, and start editing.

Problem solved. While I couldn’t get the problem solved on the front end for the following days’ shoots, I had a process that only took a few minutes. And I didn’t have to go to plan B which would have been manual entry.