Keeping track of clips is a headache when a camera insists on renumbering them
Here's an absurdity, although difficult to illustrate. It drives me nuts.
I use a Canon FS20 videocamera to "shoot" video reviews of dev kits. The camera labels separate video segments (or clips) with numbers. So, when I look at videos on the camera's small LCD, I see a number such as 34/40, so I know the camera has 40 total segments and I have selected #34.
I delete bad "takes" and then the camera renumbers the videos. So, for example, when I delete #34 out of 40, #35 drops down to become #34, #36 drops down to become #35, and so on. I end up with 39 clips, 1 through 39. Keeping track of the numbers is a nightmare. Suppose as you deleted older drafts on a word processor, the software helpfully renumbered your draft files for you. Zowie, what a mess.
But, it gets worse. On my iMac I use the Finder program to look at the contents of the camera's memory and select video files to move into the computer. But, Finder "sees" the file names as hexadecimal values that bear no relation to the camera's numeric numbering! Apparently deleting video segments does not change the file name assigned by the camera. The camera simply counts the files present in its memory. So, video clip 15/39 might appear as file MOV05E.MOD in the Finder list of files. And Finder cannot display thumbnail views of the movie clips, so I have to rearrange the files by "date modified," which helps somewhat.
Also, Finder cannot arrange file names in hexadecimal order, so you can see a file list such as:
A1 has a higher hex value that 3D, but there's no way to sort file names by "value." So, tracking videos has become a pain. I pity nontechnical people who have to work with this type of video file system, which isn't worth a damn.
Also, on a Macintosh, people must "eject" a device such as a USB stick or camera. But even after "ejecting" the camera, its LCD screen still displays the warning:
WHILE THE CAMCORDER IS CONNECTED TO A PC DO NOT DISCONNECT THE USB CABLE OR POWER SOURCE
CANNOT TURN OFF POWER OR CHANGE MODES
So, I have no way to turn off the camera--the power switch won't work with the USB cable plugged in--and I can't disconnect the USB cable. Duh. Good design, folks. I pull out the USB cable anyway and hope for the best. Someone should take the product designers at Canon to task on this one.
Oh, working with movie clips in .MOD format is a horror story on its own, but I'll save that for another time.
Jon Titus works from Utah's Salt Lake Valley as a freelance technical writer,
editor, and sometime designer. He has a BS from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, an
MS from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a PhD from Virginia Polytechnic
This kind of debilitated file system (or other similar user interface "features") makes you wonder if the engineers who design these products ever use them themselves in any realistic way. Not just the take it home and take a few videos and check that it works; but really use it - video over several weeks, fill it up, edit the videos, organize, etc. Apparently not!
On Macs, if you import the movie into iTunes, you can get a pretty good sized thumbnail to get a visual cue as to what it is, and then it will give you a time stamp. It doesn't help on the camera, but I'm pretty well able to identify which are the good clips and which are the bad.
I don't really like to throw out bad takes because I can always use them for b-roll or intro scenes and not mess up the good takes. I make it a rule not to throw out anything until my final cut is finished.
As I recall, the .MOD files are really MPEG files. I found that out with my camcorder. It would be nice if it simply named the files yyyymmdd.hhmmss. Easy to sort and find if you know when you took the video.
This really is reflective of a much larger problem with digital imagery. The "free" nature of a digital photo or video clip makes it very easy to compile a huge library, but naming and sorting issues like this make for equally huge library management problem. Especially for non-technical types. Even supposed friendly systems like Google Picassa fall short in many areas. It leads to loss of images, duplication of images and just a lot of headaches for a lot of people.