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In the Studio: AV3 Software Get
Posted Oct 1, 2010 Print Version     Page 1of 1
  

Ben BalserKeeping media organized and close at hand and finding specific pieces of media with specific content has always been a challenge. Some systems do it well; others are sorely lacking. Cataloging your content is not enough; you have to be able to index it and search it in some meaningful way. To address this issue, AV3 Software, a plug-in and workflow software vendor in the U.K., has introduced Get (powered by Nexidia), an application that does something pretty new for the video industry. It actually searches your video media, indexes it, and allows you to perform searches for words based on phonetics. The phonetics approach allows for more accuracy.


Get works very simply. First, you index your media. Then, you search it for spoken words or phrases. Finally, you export the results into a Final Cut Pro (FCP) project. The clips Get imports into your FCP project have markers already placed at the points of the word or phrase you were searching for. To take this a step further, you can drop FCP project files into Get, and it will do the same type of indexing of the clip in the project.

You can purchase Get in three versions: U.S. English, U.K. English, and Latin American Spanish. The company is taking suggestions on its website for other languages as well.

Indexing
Those of you familiar with Final Cut Server will note that Get uses the same Watch folder function. Folders dropped into Get are designated as a Watch folder that is “watched” for changes. As new clips are placed inside the Watch folder, Get immediately indexes the new clips automatically. Thus, you could set your Capture Scratch folder as a Watch folder, and clips will be indexed as FCP ingests and writes them there. My first test was to get Get to index some footage.

I installed my demo copy on a 2 x 3.2GHz Mac Pro quad-core Xeon with 16GB RAM running OS X 10.6.4. The media drive I used is a 2TB internal SATA drive.

I timed the indexing of a folder full of ProRes 422 files converted from a Canon 7D. This was interview footage that had already been embedded with the externally recorded audio (16 bit/48 kHz). The folder contained 51.99GB of data and roughly 69 minutes of nonstop interview footage, culled down to the important parts. So there’s hardly any video without dialogue. All of this footage is stored in three long video files, so there are not a lot of files to search, but the three files are very long with a lot of dialogue in each.

Indexing in Get is very easy to do: Just drag and drop a folder or hard drive onto the Get application window.

When this is done, the folder is added to the content sidebar on the left, and a circle (pie chart) next to the folder shows the progress of the indexing job. This specific folder I dropped in took 16 minutes and 52.1 seconds to index. Considering the amount of footage in that folder and that AV3 states in the user manual that Get should average about 40–60 seconds per hour of content (depending on content type), I’m pretty impressed. Rounding this off to 1 hour of footage indexed in 17 seconds is not bad at all.

The indexing runs in the background and doesn’t affect much of the Mac’s overall performance. I was troubleshooting a problem for a client at the time I ran the Index function, and Final Cut Pro was running, going through some edits, testing problem scenarios. I didn’t notice any performance hits at all.

One thing AV3 does point out in the user manual—and something to bear in mind when indexing your clips—is that the clearer the audio is, the better the indexing and search results will be. So if you have audio that is really muddy and noisy, don’t expect results to be as accurate. I tested some crystal clear audio clips with some very noisy clips and found a dramatic difference. Bad sound is bad sound, so be very careful when videoing your shots in the first place.

Searching
Once the indexing was done, I did a search. A good tip from the user manual is to set the Search Location, which is an option at the very top of the Get window. Limiting your search to a specific Watch folder can help you avoid overly lengthy searches with results you don’t care about. So I set my search location to my Interview Footage Watch folder.

Since this was an interview with an architect about the future of architecture, I did a search for the word “architect.” Get found the word in two of the three clips. Clip No. 2 had six instances of the word, and Clip No. 1 had only three instances of the word.

When you double-click one of the clips in the Results pane or click the Preview Results button, another window opens that shows you the video, with the markers placed, displaying timecode and any metadata associated with the video file (Figure 1, below). This is really nice and simple, and being very familiar with this footage I used in my test, I knew the search was very accurate.

AV3 Get
Figure 1. Search results in the Results pane

You can set the Confidence level of the search in ranges from “Score > 50” to “Score > 95” in increments of 5. As you can see in Figure 2 (below), setting confidence to different levels gives you more or fewer results. When I set it to > 50, I got a ton of clips with words similar to “architect,” but not the exact word. Set to > 70, I got hits from all three of my interview clips. Clip No. 3 only had one instance of the word, and the interviewee had gotten tongue-tied when she was saying it. So I can see why the confidence level differed between it and Clips Nos. 2 and 1. This could prove really handy in culling through lots and lots of footage.

AV3 Get
Figure 2. Search results narrowed with a Confidence Level of Score > 50

Another nice feature of the Search pane is that you can right-click on the headline bar above the search results and set up how the results are grouped and what information is shown (Figure 3, below).

AV3 Get
Figure 3. Setting up how results are grouped and what info is shown

You can get pretty sophisticated and complex with your searches too. Below the keyword field where I typed in “architect” is a Spotlight-styled Other Attributes section. There, you can add several other attributes for parameters such as File Name, Path, Length, In Point, Angle, Master Clip, and so on.

Once you’ve done a search, you can save it. When my search was complete, I clicked the Save Search button and named it “Architect”; I now have it available in the Saved Searches pane, which is on the lower left of the Get window. This would be handy in case I add more footage to my project later and want to repeat the same search.

Exporting
After saving my search, I exported my clips to a new FCP project I had just created for this test. The cool thing is that not only can you export to your FCP project’s Browser window, you can also create a new Bin for the clips to be placed in, or you can use an existing Bin (Figure 4, below). Side note: The FCP project has to be open at the time you export from Get. That small caveat aside, nothing could be easier.

AV3 Get
Figure 4. Exported results of my search

There are options that make exporting very efficient. For example, you can set In and Out points for a clip you want to Export to your FCP project. When you look at it in FCP, the whole clip is there, including the In and Out points you made in Get, along with the Markers.

Another advanced export function is Export Markers. With this, I did another search for the word “New Orleans” that resulted in the same clip I got when I searched for “Architect.” When I hit the Export Markers button, it will export just the additional markers because I’ve already exported this clip to my FCP project. And if I do a search with more than one term, when I export the markers, each term will have its own color of marker. One color will label the first word I searched for, and another color will label the second word I searched for (Figure 5, below). Note that this Export Markers feature is available only if you’ve already indexed the FCP project file in Get.

AV3 Get
Figure 5. Color-coded markers from my exported search results

Another nice feature is found in the Get results pane. If you right-click on a clip listed, you can choose Reveal In Finder, which will show you where the file is on your hard drive. You can also do a Reveal in Final Cut Pro, which will take you to your FCP project and highlight the clip. Note that the Reveal in FCP function works only if you’ve dropped the FCP project file into Get for indexing.

Conclusion
Get is an excellent indexing and search tool. I do documentary-style work, as well as educational audio and video work. Being able to search for spoken words in my clips makes Get a really nice tool to have. The ease of use and the features included are very impressive. I also love that Get uses so little of my drive, RAM, and CPU resources.

Although the $499 price tag may sound a bit steep, Get is well worth the money for those who could benefit from using this tool on a regular basis. Consider the engineering that goes into this product. It searches phonetically, with really accurate results. The appendix in the user manual gives you hints about how to structure searches for best results, which I appreciated. This application won’t be for everyone, but those who do work that will benefit from it won’t go wrong with Get. Check out the free 10-day demo download at the Get website (www.getphonetic.com).

Now, if they only developed a plug-in for Final Cut Server, I’d be in techno-geek heaven. AV3, are you listening?

Ben Balser (benb at bbalser.com) is an Apple Certified Master Trainer and Support Professional based in Louisiana. He produces media, consults for studios, and teaches media production nationally.



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