Log Rolling


Q Is there a standard way of getting log notes into something an editor can use? I’m mostly doing shorter projects, but some are scripted, and I get frustrated because, at the end of the day, when I get my stuff to the person doing the edit, it feels like we’re back in the dark ages, with searching through timecodes to find which clips are which scenes. I would love to have time to look at all the clips and enter scene and take information, but timelines are so short, that kind of process has to be skipped. Can I somehow get something embedded in QuickTime?
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A I think one of the issues is that everyone has a different way of doing things. Even major projects create their own workflow to conform to how a particular director or editor wants to work. You might have additional data like audio, lens data, VFX data—and we’re talking metadata here—that need to be tracked during the whole process. Couple that with different directory/file structures, depending on the camera, and how various editing platforms deal with metadata, and you have a large number of variables to solve. Developing one logging standard is like trying to design one language for the world.

If it was possible to define a standard, there still would be the issue of where to store all the data. Your wish to embed it into QuickTime files seems like a good idea, but a QuickTime movie in its default form has a lot of metadata fields relating to information that you would find in iTunes—the name of the songwriter, the name of the record label, etc.—but not fields for things like scene and take.

Although it’s possible to add additional fields, they wouldn’t be recognized unless an application specifically looked for them. Even if you could make this work, it assumes that your camera is recording to QuickTime files and the camera would know about those custom fields, and that QuickTime will be the file of choice.

Rather than strive for the ideal, all-in-one file, another option is to create the logging metadata separately and then bring it into the editing application to merge it with the clip files. For example, in logging software, you could capture timecode and synchronize the clip names. The log would have start and stop times for each clip, and also the clip name; then fill in the rest of the data you want to track, such as scene and take, and circle takes, or use some other rating system. From there, you would export an appropriate file (usually XML) for your editing software. In the editor, you would import that XML, which would create "clips" without media. Then, it’s a simple matter in linking those clips to the media that was recorded.

Without enforcing an industry-standard set of headers in the recording file, I think if you use logging software to handle the metadata, you get what you want to achieve, while at the same time using a system that can more readily adapt to everyone’s unique workflow.