Starting Off On The Right File

I had thought of titling this post: “The journey of a thousand edits begins with a single file” but I thought Laozi was talking about something else, not getting footage into your software.

Importing, ingesting, adding whatever you call it, the first step — bringing your footage into the edit project — can be done a number of ways. Doing it the right way can save you a lot of headaches.

As camera recording formats have grown, the complexity of the data layout has increased. We’ve gone from a simple .mov file to a hierarchy of folders. One reason is the expansion of the amount of metadata that is captured.

Unfortunately, trying to embed that metadata into a single file isn’t being done by manufacturers. Instead, metadata is being stored in different files – sometimes right next to the footage file and sometimes in a different folder.

For example, if you get a drive with footage shot by a PXW-FS7, the folder structure might look like this:



> > Clip

> > Edit

> > General

> > > Sony

> > > > Planning

> > Sub

> > Take

> > UserData

The actual footage, in this case .MXF files, resides in the Clip folder. But the folder also contains .BIM files (Binary format for Multimedia description schemes) which store real time metadata – data that might change over time for a single clip. The folder also contains XML files which are non-real-time metadata files. The XML stores things like frame rate, pixel count, aspect ratio, etc. Unlike the .BIM files you can open up the XML files in a text editor to see what they contain.

In addition to all the metadata captured, memory card limitations also affect footage imports. Some memory cards have a file size limit because of the native file format the cards use. Camera recording systems get around this by splitting up long takes across multiple files.

With this changing world of formats, simply doing an import can fail, or it can make a mess of your bins. Some edit software handles these more complicated folder structures and file types through a normal import and some require a different process.

Next time, I’ll go through a couple of examples to show what can happen if you don’t start off on the right foot.