“It’s not a place where you are going to store anything. Creating places to store things is really old school and we want to try and break that habit! ” ~Simon Ubsdell
This is pretty cool… Over at the Creative Cow, which is anything but boring, a recent thread about my NAB thing veered off onto a very interesting track. One of the regulars, Simon Ubsdell, came up with a really cool technique which I think you’ll like. Simon is a smart guy, Editor, Motion GFX (and Apple Motion) expert, and partner in Hawaiki, who make arguably some of the best FCP X plugins out there. You should buy them all!
So, without further ado, here it is, One Library, One Event, One Smart Collection to manage all your media. The Future?
I’ve posted about this elsewhere here, but only piecemeal, so I thought it would be helpful to bring it all together in one place so you can see more clearly what I am suggesting. Elsewhere I’ve called it the Dummy Smart Collection method and that sounds kind of fun so I’ll stick with that.
Step One: Open up your Library, which I am assuming has the media you want to work with, organised any which way you choose, or not organised at all.
Step Two: Create a new Smart Collection at the Library level (not the Event level) and call it something like “Master Access” and double click it to bring up the Filter window. This is what I’m calling the Dummy Smart Collection.
Step Three: Hide your Library pane. Yes, I mean that!
Step Four: Add all of the Filter options to the Filter pane – leave out any that look like you’d never want them but most of them are pretty useful.
This Filter window is now going to be the Always On, Instant Access control centre for your media. It’s not a place where you are going to store anything. Creating places to store things is really old school and we want to try and break that habit! This is just a place from which you will be accessing all of the media in your Library all of the time, which means its “contents” will constantly be changing.
So for example, we can enable Roles/Include Any/Music in order to access all the music in our library. Or we could do something really useful and enable Used Media in order to see what music we have used in the current Project. That’s cool and super useful.
If we know any of the characters in the filename we are looking for we can simply type in the Text field and enable that. So for example, we could enable Roles/Effects and type “zap” into the Text field to bring up all our Zap sound effects. Or we could use “Media is Stills” to bring up all our stills. Or if we had a Keyword collection called Stock we could bring up all our stock footage by enabling the Stock keyword (very useful if we wanted to isolate all the stock footage used in our current Project, which we could do by enabling Used Media again). But really there are so many options and different ways of accessing your media this way that it’s absurd to try and even begin to list them.
Because the important thing to remember is that we can not only search with one category type, we can have multiple active categories, which means we can really pinpoint what we need in a way that simply isn’t possible using any other means. If we use the old-fashioned method of hunting through Events, Folders and Keyword Collections manually, we can only ever see the contents of one container at a time. Whereas with the Dummy Smart Collection method, we can instantly view media from across multiple containers and that’s a big deal, I think.
And the point is we are doing this with the Library closed! We are not hunting for any Folder, any Event, any Keyword Collection – we’re simply using the Master Access “panel”, as I’m calling the Filter pane. And one of the great things about this Master Access panel is that it’s a floating HUD – I really like that. All my Browser real estate is being used for showing me my media and none is wasted with all that Library clutter.
Here’s a visual aid showing my sift for my zap SFX – note that hidden away there are many other editing projects that you are not seeing but which I can easily access.
So now if we think about our Library organisation, we can start to appreciate that we need a lot less of it than we used to think. We don’t need a Music folder, or a SFX folder, or a Stills folder, because we can use our Dummy Smart Collection to bring them up instantly – and very efficiently because of the complex sort options we have at our fingertips.
Quite how you use Keyword collections within this scheme is really up to you, but you’ll probably find that you need far fewer than you thought you needed. (Events are almost entirely redundant and don’t help with the Dummy Smart Collection because they are not selectable as a Filter option.)
I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at how effective this method is in practice. One of the things you need to bear in mind though is that your media needs either the right filenames, or the right tags, or the right Roles or the right embedded metadata for this method to deliver the best results.
My recommendation would be to think about ways of embedding metadata probably more systematically than you might have done otherwise. Use the Finder (or one of the many utilities available) to tag and/or rename files. If you have files that you want to tag with a date that is different from the Creation Date, then simply modify the filename(s) to add in the date information (easily done as a batch in a single step, so it really isn’t a big deal). Make sure your Roles are properly set up (which you should be doing anyway!). Rename items in the Browser to that they become more useful to you – for example, if you want to organise your sent Projects, you don’t need to put them in a Sent Keyword collection – instead you can simply add “Sent” to the Project name and the Dummy Smart Collection will find them without fuss.
That’s probably enough for now – I haven’t spent that long developing this method but its simplicity and robustness strike me as offering real efficiency savings. The more I work with it, the more benefits I seem to discover, so I hope to be able to add some more useful tips in due course.
Pretty cool idea huh? I’m gonna be using it, though I’m doing a “hybrid” where I still have Collections, Folders etc. But I hope to rarely need to use them. They’re there, but hidden. With proper tagging, I may not need nearly as many! Let us know how it works for you, either here, or on the thread at the Cow.
UPDATE: Simon has made a little tutorial which can be found by clicking here. Check it out and leave comments! 🙂