Squarebox

Getting started

Introduction

CatDV is a cross-platform media cataloging and video logging tool. The CatDV product family has several members, all sharing the same basic user interface but with different features:

  • CatDV Professional Edition
  • CatDV Professional Edition with Workgroup Server
  • CatDV Enterprise Edition with Enterprise Server
  • CatDV Pegasus Client

This reference guide describes all these versions. When there are differences these are indicated in the text.

Cataloging

CatDV will import and catalog media files and movies in most popular formats, including:

  • still images (JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, PSD, DNG, RAW, DPX, CR2, etc.)
  • audio formats (MP3, AIFF, AU, AAC, WAV, M4A, etc.)
  • video formats (QuickTime MOV, MP4, WMV, AVI, MPEG, DV, MXF, etc.)

Media files are indexed with thumbnails, not just for the whole file but for each scene. Unlike many other cataloging applications, CatDV is aware of timecode and knows about scenes within a movie file, so as well as media files it will also import:

  • video editing capture logs and projects (Final Cut Pro, Premiere, etc.)
  • other interchange formats (edit decision lists, tab-separated text, XML, XMP/IPTC, etc.)

With the Professional Edition you can also import arbitrary files of any type into the catalog, not just media files but also related supporting files such as spreadsheets, Word documents or project files.

Although mostly obsolete now, CatDV also has tape-workflow capabilities; it helps you to keep track of which video clips are where on a tape (and which projects they are used in) by maintaining a catalog of clips. CatDV lets you organise digital camera images and MP3s as well as digital video, providing a common interface to locate and manage all your digital media.

Metadata

To make it easy to organise your media, each clip is annotated with metadata (ie. data about your media) that can be used for searching and sorting the catalog. This includes both technical metadata (such as file path, audio sample rate, video format, date and time of recording, or camera exposure details) which are extracted automatically from the media file, and annotations and log notes explicitly entered by the user (such as clip name, description, project, or clip status). Once extracted, this metadata is cached in a CatDV catalog file (or a central database if using the workgroup server), and therefore provides a permanent and instantly accessible record even if the original file is offline (eg. on removable media).

Logging and scene detection

To simplify logging the contents of a tape and creating a first rough draft of an edited program, CatDV supports automatic scene detection of captured footage, or allows users to create their own subclips. You can review each clip and enter a name and keywords describing the scene, rate it using a five-star system, and enter "in" and "out" points to select portions of interest within the clip. Use the Verbatim Logger to type in spoken dialog (perhaps to create subtitles) or other comments while a clip is playing.

Proxy files

Full-resolution video files are very large and it is often impractical to keep them all online at the same time. Even if the original files are online on your edit machine(s), they may be inaccessible to other machines on the network. CatDV will create low-resolution proxy movies (also known as "previews") to show the contents of clips when the original media files are off-line. You can do most of your work with the proxy files, then relink to the media based on file path when necessary.

Video editing

Although CatDV is not intended as a full editing application, you can create a simple composition or sequence by trimming and concatenating together clips of interest. All editing is non-destructive as CatDV deals with references to your media files.

Movie export

You can export clips or sequences as self-contained movies, or you can convert a movie using a different codec, for example to create a web movie, perhaps adding subtitles or a burnt-in timecode at the same time. You can batch convert multiple movies in one operation.

Tools

Several unique utility functions are provided, such as a convenient timecode calculator, or adding a burnt-in security camera-style date and time display. CatDV will analyse most media files and display detailed technical information about the file, including the format of individual tracks, frame durations, sample counts, and an analysis of dropped frames, helping you to diagnose capture and playback problems. You can also print catalogs, display them as HTML, and more.

Networked operation

Using the optional CatDV Server, backed by a powerful relational database engine, you can store clip details in a central shared database, accessible via the local area network, thereby allowing different members of a team to work together.

Installation and registration

System requirements

CatDV is available for both Macintosh and Windows. It includes Java and other software such as FFmpeg that it needs within the application itself, so there is no need to download other software separately.

Consult the release notes in the Read Me file for further details.

Updates

The latest version of CatDV is always available at http://www.squarebox.com/support/download/. You should check this site regularly for updates and bug fixes or subscribe to the CatDV announcements mailing list.

Normally minor bug fix updates are issued free of charge while a small upgrade fee is charged for major feature upgrades.

Purchasing CatDV

CatDV Pro works as a 30-day limited-functionality demo until you purchase a license, which you can do online. You will then be sent a registration code to unlock the full application. Enter the name and registration code in the Registration tab of Preferences. (The easiest way to do this is by copying both lines of your registration details and pressing the special Paste button.)

If required we can provide temporary license codes to give you full access to CatDV's features for your evaluation. For sales and registration enquiries please contact sales@squarebox.com; for technical support please contact support@squarebox.com. You can also use the web shortcuts in the CatDV Help menu.

Quick start guide

This page provides a quick overview of the main features of CatDV. Each feature is described in more detail by following the links. Use the "<" back button at the top of this window to return to this page.

Screen layout

  • The main window in CatDV shows all the clips in a catalog or database of clips. Each clip represents either a complete media file or a scene within a movie file, and usually has a thumbnail image, as well as Name, Format, In and Out timecode values, and various other fields (also referred to as "attributes" or "properties").
  • The toolbar at the top of the main window provides commands to import media into the catalog and to view and organise the clips in the catalog in different ways.
  • The tree navigator lets you group clips in your catalog into virtual folders, and also provides shortcuts to key locations in your file system. The clip details panel is used to display and edit the selected clip. (To allow you to manage your screen space both the tree navigator and details panel can be turned on and off using the View menu.)
  • Other windows may be displayed as required, for example to edit a sequence, play back a movie, or customise application settings.
  • Importing clips

    • The quickest way to get started with CatDV is to use the Import Directory command (from the File menu) to import all the images and movies from a directory and build up a thumbnail catalog. You can also drag and drop files into the CatDV window. The files are analysed as they are imported and, in the case of movie files, a separate clip record for each scene within the movie may be created.
    • CatDV can create and manage low-resolution proxy movies to represent each clip in your catalog. Specify the location and quality settings for proxies (formerly referred to as "previews") in Preferences, then use Build Proxy Movies to create preview versions of all your video clips. CatDV proxies are small enough to be kept permanently and are therefore available to show you the contents of your entire library even when the original media files are unavailble (perhaps they're on a removable USB or FireWire drive, you're working on your laptop away from your server, or you had to delete them to make space for the next project).
    • CatDV has a large number of Preference settings that govern all aspects of its behaviour, such as the format for proxy files, search paths to locate media files, what clip properties to display, the behaviour when you double click a clip, and much more. Take the time to look through all the different preference panels to get a feel for what features are available.

    Viewing clips

    • You can view the catalog and organise your clips in many different ways, using commands in the View menu or toolbar buttons. For example, you can view clips as a spreadsheet-like list or as a grid of thumbnails only. You can also choose which particular columns (or clip properties) are shown by selecting a different view definition from the drop down.
    • If you have many clips in your catalog you can navigate your clips by using the tree to automatically group related clips according to tape, subject, bin, etc. You can also sort or filter them as required.
    • Type text into the quick search field to filter the window and only show those clips whose name or comments include the text you enter. (You can also create more complex queries by using the Find command.)
    • The clip details panel provides full details of a clip and is used for logging your clips: you can enter a name or description, select a thumbnail frame, mark it as good or not, and enter other log notes. Under the movie tab you can play the clip and mark a selection within it, from which you can then create subclips.
    • The Play Media command will play selected clip(s) in a separate window. You can play a slide show of still images or play movies full screen.
    • Use the Media Information dialog to analyse a media file and display technical information about the format, such as a report of dropped frames or the codec used.
    • You can re-earrange the order of clips by dragging and dropping them within the main window, or assemble a rough cut program by creating a sequence from them.

    Outputting clips

    Use CatDV's searching and filtering tools to find the clips you want to use. It doesn't matter whether you have only just captured and logged them or are searching a library of old stock footage. Once you have selected the clips you want or created a rough sequence, you can output them in various ways:

    • Export the clips as a movie, converting them using any QuickTime-compatible codec, including MPEG-4, H.264, DV, etc., and optionally add timecode or text tracks, such as burnt-in date/time display or subtitles
    • Export them as an EDL or batch list (or Final Cut XML format) to import into your video editing application.
    • Print the clips out (as a thumbnail "storyboard" or "contact sheet")
    • Export a standalone HTML index with thumbnails and a link to the media files. (You could use this to publish a storyboard of an edited program or to distribute a catalog of stock footage to clients, for example.)

    Unlike some database applications such as iTunes, which save their data automatically in a hidden internal database location, CatDV uses an explicit 'document' metaphor for its catalogs. Once you have logged your clips you need to remember to save the catalog document to your computer's hard disk (or to the CatDV Server). On the other hand, you have the flexibility to organise these documents how you want (for example, you might create one catalog for each project you are working on, or you could email a catalog to a colleague).