Clips and catalogs

Managing catalogs

CatDV stores details about your clips (including any notes or keywords you enter and the clips' thumbnails) in a catalog:

  • Use the New Catalog command to create an empty catalog window.
  • Use the Open Catalog or Open Recent commands to open an existing catalog.
  • Use Save As Catalog to choose a file location and save your catalog to disk.
  • Use the Always create backup checkbox in Preferences to automatically make a backup copy of the catalog file when saving.
  • Use Catalog Details (in the Edit menu) to enter a short description of the catalog.

Catalogs are normally saved in a file with extension .cdv. You can open more than one catalog at the same time and copy and paste clips between them. Catalogs are portable between Macintosh and Windows.

The trial version of CatDV will not normally let you save catalogs (or export or print data).

With the optional CatDV Server, CatDV users can store clips in a central shared database rather than in files on the local file system. Even then, however, CatDV still uses the concept of catalogs as a way to group related clips.

Regardless of whether you are using the single-user or the networked version of CatDV, to keep catalogs a manageable size it's a good idea to have a separate catalog for each project, rather than storing all your clips in one huge catalog. See managing multiple catalogs for hints on how to manage a large clip library.


All data within a CatDV catalog is held in the form of clips. There are different types of clip, such as still images, movie files, scenes within a movie, lines of an EDL or batch list, and so on.

Each clip has the following main properties (often referred to as fields when shown in a dialog, or as columns when the clips are shown in a table).

Some of these properties are editable while others are filled in automatically at the time of import. Depending on the type of the clip, some of these properties may not be relevant and are left blank.

Built-in clip properties

NameName of the clip
NotesDescription or other comments you enter about the clip
BinProject bin or directory on disk where the clip came from; used for grouping clips
TapeLegacy feature for tape-based workflow compatibility, states the name of the tape or reel the clip is on
Import sourceThe file that details of this clip were imported from (eg. a movie file, EDL, or batch list)
Source mediathe media file that holds the video data the clip refers to (not necessarily the same as the Import Source)
In & OutTimecode values for the whole clip. The Out point of a clip is the timecode of the frame after the last frame of this clip (and normally equals the In point of the following clip). (Corresponds to Media Start and End in Final Cut.)
DurationThe corresponding clip length, i.e. the difference between In and Out points.
In2 & Out2Timecode values for a selection made within the clip (corresponds to In and Out in Final Cut).
Start & EndCurrent clip bounds, either In/Out or In2/Out2 depending on the Export clips based on selection Preferences option
TypeClip type, whether still, audio or movie file, and if so whether a master clip (correspond to entire file) or a sub-clip. The icon is crossed out with a red X if the file is offline or unplayable.
Underlying TypeMore detailed type information that distinguishes QuickTime, OMF and WMV movies, for example. For DV clips the icon indicates whether a definite scene change at the start or end of the clip has been identified.
FormatA summary of the format of the movie (whether DV, other QuickTime movie, still, etc.). See the list of media-related properties for more details about the media file.
PosterEach clip has a poster thumbnail, normally the first frame of the clip but a different poster can be set from the clip details movie tab
MarkA general purpose check box to mark clips of interest or to save a selection
HideClips may be flagged as hidden so they don't normally appear unless the Show hidden menu command is used (you could use this to hide rejected clips but without deleting the clip record, or hide master clips once they have been divided into subclips.)
Big NotesAn additional comments field, capable of storing notes larger than 65,000 charactes
EventWhich event this clip is part of
RatingA star rating from 0 to 5 stars. 0 means unreviewed, while conventionally 1 star means a rejected clip, and 2 to 5 stars means a good clip
GoodAn older mechanism for marking good or bad clips, replaced by Rating
ExposureA summary of the camera exposure details (available with some DV camcorders and digital cameras)
Record DateThe original date/time of recording of the clip or image (available with some DV camcorders and digital cameras)
DateEither the Record Date, or failing that the earliest modification time of the source media
User 1..NGeneral purpose user-defined text fields (in the Standard Edition you can have up to 3 user fields, in the Professional Edition you can have any number).
Clip IDSeveral fields are used to uniquely identify clips in different ways
StatusA general purpose clip status field (you can define your own statuses in the Pick List section of Preferences, for example 'Approved' and 'Rejected')
HistoryAny changes to the Status of a clip, along with other significant changes, are recorded in the History field
TransitionLegacy feature, available when importing EDLs (edit decision lists)
Seq. No.Sequence number when importing more than one clip from a file, eg. an EDL or scenes within a movie
OnlineIndicate whether the clip is currently online, or a proxy or thumbnail is available

Additional properties that provide full details of the media file format that a clip was imported from are listed separately.

Making sense of property names

Some of these properties might appear more than once with similar names, for example where long and short forms of the same data are available. Or you might see two fields with the same name and quite different contents, or the same content in different fields!

There are several possible reasons for this apparent confusion. The important thing to remember is that the property name is just a label used to annotate the property on the screen. The label doesn't necessarily have to be unique:

  • You can give user-defined fields any name you choose. These names could clash with a pre-defined property. It is also possible to rename the pre-defined properties in Preferences.
  • When defining details panel layouts it is possible to customise the name of any field, including built-in properties.
  • Certain metadata properties like Name or Date (read from iTunes metadata for example) might clash with a pre-defined property.
  • If you import a media file then the Import Source, Source Media and Name fields will all show the same thing, ie. the media filename. On the other hand, if you import an EDL or Final Cut XML file these fields may all be different: Name is the name of a particular shot or scene, Source Media is the media filename for that clip, and Import Source is the name of the EDL or XML file you imported the data from.
  • Some special fields like "Name or Tape" show different data for different types of clips and are designed to make most efficient use of available space in icon grid views, for example showing the file name for stills and the tape name and timecode for movie clips stored on a tape.

Use tool tip text (hover the mouse pointer over a field name) to display a short explanation of the field if you are unsure which property you are viewing. (You can also set the Show attribute IDs option in Preferences to automatically display a unique field identifier after each property.)

When choosing properties from a drop down (for example, when customising view layouts or performing a complex query) colour coding is used to indicate the type of field: green for built-in fields, red for user-defined fields, and blue for metadata fields. Also, a small icon indicates whether the field is a grouping field, a multi-grouping field, a plain text field, or a date or timecode field, and also whether it is editable or read-only.

Importing clips and movies

You can import clip data into a catalog from many different types of file.

The Automatic native importer will allow CatDV to import the majority of media file types, including still images, sound clips, and movies. For visual media a poster thumbnail is created, typically the first frame of the movie. If you select the Scene analysis Preferences options the movie is scanned as it is imported and separate secondary clips are created automatically for each scene within the movie. Importing files with the default automatic setting should work well in most cases but for troubleshooting you can manually import files with a specific importer, including:

  • AVI/WAV files
  • MPEG files (including program and transport streams)
  • MP4 and QuickTime MOV files
  • MXF files
  • Windows Media Files, including WMV, ASF, and WMA files
  • TIFF, JPEG and RAW image files

CatDV also has dedicated importers for certain batch and project files that contain a list of clips, such as CatDV XML Files. These batch importers include:

  • CMX3600 edit decision lists
  • CatDV XML v1 and v2 files
  • Final Cut 7 XML, including imports from Adobe Premiere
  • Final Cut X XML

CatDV also allows users to import Tab-Separated Text - clips defined in a tab-separated text file, one per line, which can be used if you have manually logged a tape using pencil and paper or a spreadsheet.

Various professional and additional formats, including MXF and RED media files and Avid AVB and AAF files, are only available in the Professional Edition or in the CatDV Pegasus Client.

Several options in Preferences control how movies are imported, for example which importers are used, how errors and inconsistencies are handled, and whether automatic scene detection is used to create a separate clip for each scene.

Use Import Directory to import all the recognised media files in an entire directory. If the appropriate Preferences option is set it will recursively scan the contents of any subdirectories. You can also drag and drop files or folders from the Macintosh Finder or Windows Explorer directly into a CatDV window to import them. If you use the tree navigator you can navigate to a folder in your file system then right click on the node and choose Import Into Catalog.

Use Scan For New Files to re-scan all the directories previously included in a catalog and import any new files that have been added since last time.

Using a specific importer

Sometimes several importers are able to import the same file and might give different results, for example you could use CatDV's own built in MPEG parser or try to open the file as a QuickTime movie.

In most cases CatDV will determine the file type automatically when you import a folder of files, but you can also use the Import As submenu to use a specific importer if required. If the file is already in the catalog you can use Re-Import As to import the file again using a different importer. In the Advanced media handling Preferences page you can enable or disable particular importers.

Exporting clips and movies

You can export clips from a CatDV catalog in various formats for use in other applications. Some of these commands export the media itself, while others export references to the media including metadata.

Select the clips you want to export from the main window and use one of the Export As commands:

  • Export As Movie(s) - see below
  • Export As Stills - see below
  • Export as Tab-Separated Text - export all the columns from the current view as a plain text file, suitable for importing into a word processor or spreadsheet.
  • Export as HTML - see below.
  • Export as CMX 3600 EDL - export a CMX-format edit decision list. (This command works on sequences, not ordinary clips, so you might need to create a sequence from your selected clips first).
  • Various additional formats are available in the Professional Edition.

Use the Export Clips Based On Selection checkbox in Preferences to select whether the whole clip (as defined by its "in" and "out" timecode values) or a selected portion within each clip (as defined by "in2" and "out2") is exported. (If a clip has no selection the whole clip is always used.)

Note that the trial version of CatDV will not normally let you export or print clip definitions.

Exporting Movies

You can export movies from CatDV in several formats, either from the original media (if currently online) or from CatDV's proxy versions if you have created them.

  • Under 'Movie Format' choose which exporter to use and choose a preset, then use the Settings button to customise the codec and export settings. For most situations you should use the Advanced Exporter. (Note that with the move to 64-bit the old QuickTime Native exporter, which included support for creating QuickTime reference movies and use of third party QuickTime plugin codecs, is no longer available).
  • Under 'Options' you can choose whether all the selected clips are combined into a single movie or exported as separate files. Check the Exact clip names option to use the clip Name as it is for the filename without appending an extension such as .mov (this simplifies attaching the media in Final Cut Pro). Checking the Use proxy if original unavailable option allows CatDV to export from the proxy file if it can't use the original file, and gives you the option to force CatDV to use the proxy file even if the original is available. You can export the whole of each clip or a selection within it.
  • Use Re-import resulting file as a new asset when working with mezzanine clips (converting different files to a consistent standard format)
  • After pressing the Settings button, under 'Export As' choose the basic container format such as MP4, QuickTime MOV, or MXF that you want to use. You can then choose the video and audio codecs, resolution, frame rate and quality settings.
  • Under the Visible Overlay section you can add burnt-in timecodes or a burnt in message such as a copyright notice. You can also burn in a watermark image such as a station logo by specifying a transpartent GIF or PNG image to overlay. The image you provide is scaled to fill the frame so would normally be mostly transparent with a logo in one corner.
  • The Advanced Exporter automatically splits the transcode up into segments and then concatenates them as required, which means it can transcode complex sequences, including a mix of formats. It can prepend a title slate to the exported movie, and can also burn in varying text from event markers (for example subtitles).
  • The FFMpeg Exporter has a Passthrough option to write out a subclip or subclip as a new file without re-encoding the media.
  • If you are on Macintosh the Advanced Exporter can create official Apple ProRes movies, including ProRes 4444 XQ.

Exporting stills

With the Export As Stills command you can create JPEG still images from the poster frame (or other specified frames) of each movie clip. In the case of still image clips you can export a scaled version of the image.

Normally the poster frame of each clip is exported but in the Professional edition you can choose additional frames to export, such as all thumbnail frames, all event markers, or all markers of a particular category. Use the "HTML Thumbnails" option to export high resolution versions of the thumbnails used when exporting an HTML page, named consistently with the way that the Export As HTML command does it. To simplify emailing images, by default the exported images are scaled down to smaller size, and a whole set of images can be combined into a single convenient ZIP archive.

When exporting a single image you can choose the filename yourself but when exporting multiple images you just specify the directory in which to place the images and the files will be named automatically.

HTML Export

You can export selected clips and their poster thumbnails as a simple HTML catalog. There are two options:

  • In the simplest form, a single index page containing all the selected clips is output, to a file location that you specify.
  • If using a legacy tape-based workflow, you can create an HTML index specifically for tape-based proxy movies. This index is written in the proxy directory and allows you to access the proxy movies from a web browser without requiring the CatDV application.

With both types of export you can choose which columns to list on an index page and whether to include a separate detail page for each clip or not. You can also add a custom footer to each page.

(The Export As Still command, described above, provides another way to create an HTML index of selected clips and images when you choose the ZIP archive option.)

Note that pages exported from within CatDV form a static snapshot of the catalog at the time of the export. With the CatDV Server and optional CatDV Web Client component you can make similar information available as a dynamic view of the current contents of the central database. The Web Client web interface also provides dynamic searching capabilities.