I’ve officially jumped on the “file organization” bandwagon. Despite the good things iTunes and iPhoto do with music and photo files, respectively, files are still a mess on the Mac and there’s no solution in sight.
Step by step, we’ll get there. The next step is organizing your movie clips. FootTrack does it best.
Whether you use iMovie, FinalCut Express, or FinalCut Pro, or whatever, keeping track of all those movie and video clips is painful. If you’re like me, you probably have files all over your Mac anyway.
Apple makes it somewhat easier for us by segregating certain file types. Music files go in the Music folder, digital photos go in the Pictures folder, and there’s two excellent applications to help organize those files—iTunes and iPhotos.
What about movie clips from your video camera? FootTrack to the rescue. Think of FootTrack as a professional’s iTunes or iPhoto for movie clips.
Whether you’re using iMovie or FCX/FCP, you’re making movie clips. For iMovie users, they’re stored in a project folder, probably buried deep in your Movie folder, right?
If you have a couple dozen iMovie Projects then you have hundreds and hundreds of movie clips.
Unlike iTunes or iPhoto, iMovie does NOT help you with movie clip organization. To find a specific movie clip you have to open an iMovie Project, check the Shelf, find the file in the Movies folder, then do with it whatever.
Enter FootTrack 2.3.x. I almost purchased the 1.x version of FootTrack a couple of years ago but didn’t, and waited for version 2.x.
Foottrack is the movie clip organizer you’ve always dreamed of; a Universal Binary, so it runs on PPC Macs and Intel Macs. It’s worth it. Try it.
FootTrack is immediately recognizable and comfortable as a Mac application. There’s the familiar brushed aluminum look of Safari, and older versions of iTunes, iPhoto.
FootTrack it does much more than store clips (yes, iPhoto will store movie clips, as will iTunes; don’t go there). Neither is adept at storing movie clips.
First, you’re greeted with an iTunes/iPhoto-like window. To the left is a single vertical column which will display Tapes and Groups (think of them as the Playlists and Albums of iTunes, iPhoto respectively). In the same column, below Tapes, is a list of Keywords which can be assigned to movie clips.
The right side of the screen, again similar to iPhoto, is where you’ll see all the movie clips. So, click on a specific Tape, and all the clips from that tape show up in the large right-side column. Just like iPhoto.
So, at first, FootTrack is simple to navigate and simple to use. That simplicity is elegant and deceiving at the same time. Without reading the PDF Guide or the built-in Help screens, you’ll figure out how to import and/or capture movie clips.
Yep. FootTrack will do both. If you have movie clips already in the Movies folder on your Mac, FootTrack can, just like iTunes, bring them all together, categorize them appropriately, let you assign Keywords, make the clips searchable.
Just like iPhoto, FootTrack has a lightning fast scrollbar which lets you scan and scroll through the movie clips, in video clip mode, or simple list mode. Wait. There’s more. FootTrack also has an iPhoto-like “re-size” zooming tool which lets you change the size of all the clips in a tape.
Zoom out and see up to 100 movie clips at a time (10 x 10 on my Mac screen), or zoom in to just a few, all larger sized. Again, like iPhoto.
The FootTrack toolbar at the top of the screen will also look familiar.
There’s buttons for Capture, Import Video, Compress Clips (very handy if you’re short of hard drive space), Export, Add Keywords, Print, Burn Disc. There’s even a Search field similar to iTunes. I told you FootTrack would be familiar.
There’s also a floatable Inspector which, when you select a specific movie clip, will display information about the clip—the Tape, the clip’s Name, Duration, Time Code in and out points, the DV video size in megabytes, the Date Recorded and the Date Imported, a place for a full description of the movie clip, and the file path to where the clip is stored.
Double click on a movie clip and the clip opens up in the right hand column. New tools are present below the movie clip. Sound. Stop, Start. Rewind.
Below that are additional tools to move to Next movie clip in the Tape, Split Clip (very handy) and Set Clip Image (the frame or image that shows up at the beginning of the movie clip in FootTrack). One click takes you back to the zoom mode.
Whether you’re using iMovie or FCX or FCP or whatever for your movie projects, keeping track of movie clips is cumbersome at best, messy at worst. FootTrack is an excellent solution to handle your movie clip requirements.
Wait. There’s more. MUCH more. FootTrack is great up to this point but is much more than just an iPhoto knock off for movie clips.
For screen shots and more detail on importing video, Click Here for Page 2…
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There are a number of identifying marks that help determine a great Mac application. My first test has always been, “play around with it for awhile.” If I can get it to work to my satisfaction because the interface is intuitive and the power shows up quickly, I’m a happy gal.
iTunes is like that. It’s simple, intuitive, doesn’t require much digging around, but it’s very powerful, does nearly everything we need with music playback.
FootTrack has that same feel. It works quickly, with no muss of fuss. Importing and capturing movie clips is a breeze. Adding Keywords and descriptions couldn’t be much easier.
Setting up Tapes and Groups, well, it’s pretty much like Playlists in iTunes and Albums in iPhoto. Don’t be fooled by FootTrack’s elegance and ease-of-use. There’s some hefty power lurking under the hood. Start with the FootTrack web site.
I bring that up because a web site is often indicative of how a developer approaches his or her projects. A clean, simple, elegant, attractive web site that gets to the point of a product, makes it easy to find information, is also a testament to how well said application may work. “May.”
In this case, what you see is what you get with FootTrack. The site is organized appropriately and you’re never more than a couple of clicks away from any information you need about the product.
FootTrack works the same way. Everything you’ll see in the image below is straightforward, easy to understand, very easy to put into practice and make it work for you right away.
I hate to disappoint you, but there’s more going on than just simple movie clip capture and storage.
The solution to managing movie clips and video editing and capture requirements is much like many situations in adult life. There’s no one way to do it right, there’s many ways to do it wrong.
FootTrack gets you running quickly toward proper management of movie clips, but gives you plenty of room and power if you’re, well, a more powerful user. For example, lets say you use FinalCut Express or FinalCut Pro.
FCX and FCP don’t import movies the same way as iMovie. There’s no “shelf” that stores clips the same way. Importing on iMovie couldn’t be easier. Plug in camera. Click Import. Wait. All the movie clips, the scenes, are stored on the Shelf and you drag what you need to the video/audio Timeline.
FCX and FCP do the same things but the process contains many more steps, and FootTrack, to be a great application that’s both easy to use and powerful, needs to be able to handle both.
FootTrack does professional work, too.
The included FootTrack Guide is excellent for the beginner and typically works fine for the iMovie user. However, FootTrack’s Help screens will show you that there’s much more flexibility for the FinalCut user who tends to demand more.
Capturing video into FootTrack is as easy as plugging in your camera and clicking the Capture button in the toolbar. The dialog box opens and you can click Import. All the scenes from your camera are brought in to FootTrack and stored (default is the Applications Support folder, although you can change directories for both the Capture clips and the Catalog).
Let’s say your Mac isn’t blessed with 500 gigabytes of storage. In fact, you’d rather not store all the original DV movie clips. OK, simply compress them to preview copies. The original stays on the tape. The compressed versions look great, but are less filling.
Once you have half a dozen Tapes and a few hundred movie clips in FootTrack, you’ll drool over the Search and Keyword capability. Each movie clip can be assigned a description or name. The search will look there first, and just like iTunes search, display results. Instantly.
There’s also a Keyword function. If you’re a FinalCut Express, or FinalCut Pro user, there’s something special for you, because FootTrack feels your pain.
Life is easy for iMovie users. FinalCut users have a few more hoops to jump through to import, catalog, store, and retrieve tapes. Hey, that’s the professional way, right? More hoops. More billable hours.
Video footage isn’t captured the same way in FinalCut (Pro or Express). Typically, FCP captures video straight from tape (remember, there’s no single way to do it right, there’s many ways to do it wrong) using a more cumbersome, but necessary, interface.
Batch Capture and Log and Capture and Import. Log and Capture is the primary method for bringing in video to your Mac in Final Cut. FootTrack lets you continue with that process. There are advantages to using FCP for capture and import.
First, once the video clips are stored, they’re already rendered—which is not the case if you simply use FootTrack or iMovie to capture video from your camera or deck.
Plus, FCP users often have many more video clips to choose, while iMovie users simply load every movie clip into the Shelf, then sort. FCP users discriminate by choosing just enough of the right video clips, discarding (leaving on tape) the rest.
That whole process takes more time. The resulting time savings comes in the production process later.
FootTrack is flexible. Since FCP users will keep their whole video project elsewhere (in a different location than FootTrack would store the video), for example, another hard drive or scratch disk, FootTrack simply references those video clips, rather than copy them to a central location.
For FCP users, simply Capture Now and import the whole tape (as much as you can) and put it wherever you normally store video clips. Then, in FootTrack create a new Tape, select it, choose File, Import Video, and import the whole video chunk.
FootTrack’s import process also detects DV StartStops and will break the footage into appropriate clips (only for FootTracks display; not actually cutting the video).
After that, you can compress if needed, view all the clips with time code intact, mix and match, and so on. Life is good, even for the near pro and pro FCP user.
Yes, there are other ways to skin the cat, so let me offer a few suggestions. First, download the FootTrack demo. Click Here to the download page.
Then take the FootTrack Tour. Click Here to begin the tour.
Is FootTrack perfect? No. As I said, there’s no one way to do it right, there are many ways to do it wrong. FootTrack is a very mature, very capable application. That said, here’s a few things I want:
Keywords – currently, Keywords are assigned to a clip simply enough, but the Search function won’t find them. You have to create a Smart Group to do that.
Keyboard Shortcuts – there are a few, more are needed (on almost every Mac application). Navigation for many Mac users will be the mouse. FinalCut users are more keyboard oriented (more choices, productivity is important).
Resize Clip Images – this should work as it does in iPhoto; zoom all the way to a single clip instead of 4 or 5 horizontally. Crashing – well, FootTrack hasn’t crashed yet; even with a dozen hours of video, and hundreds of clips. I’d complain if it crashed, but it hasn’t.
See? Not much. FootTrack 2.3 is that good and ready for a new, faster Intel Mac. Click Here for a review and download.
So, the final question is, “what do you use to capture, store and manage video clips?” iMovie? iTunes? What else? Share your experience with Mac360 readers in the Comments section below.