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 or tape, 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 tape library even when the original media files are unavailble (perhaps they’re on a removable 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-arrange 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 tapes and 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 tape or project you are working on, or you could email a catalog to a colleague).