Posted Friday, May 23, 2003

Catalog Your Video with FootTrack

Looking for a way to catalog your videotapes? Check out FootTrack, a new, $29 utility from T-Squared Software.

FootTrack is short for "Footage Tracker," and T-Squared describes the program as "iPhoto for video." The description isn't far from the mark. With FootTrack, you can import, catalog, and search video clips. The program displays small, thumbnail images of each clip, and you can assign names to the clips for later searching.

The current release of FootTrack requires that you first import your video using iMovie. (As noted below, I'm hoping future versions will be able to import directly from a camcorder.) Once that's done, switch to FootTrack and create a new "tape," which is roughly analogous to an iPhoto album.

FootTrack Screen ShotNext, use FootTrack's Import Video command to add your clips to FootTrack's internal database. Each clip appears in FootTrack's window, and you can play, rename, and split clips. An iTunes-like Search box lets you search for clips by name, and an Inspector window lets you rename clips and view information about them, such as when they were shot. (For DV footage, FootTrack gets this time and date information from the footage itself.)

Because DV video inhales disk space, FootTrack enables you to compress the video for archiving. If you have QuickTime 6 installed, FootTrack compresses in MPEG-4 format. According to T-Squared Software, 60 minutes' worth of DV video will compress to a lowly 180MB.

FootTrack looks like a good solution for a common problem: You have dozens of videotapes for which you'd like a scene-by-scene catalog, but you don't have the storage space to capture and keep every scene. Catalog the tapes with iMovie and FootTrack, compress the clips, then throw away the DV files that iMovie captured. You can even print a "contact sheet" that shows thumbnail images of each clip.

There's room for improvement in FootTrack. As I've mentioned, I'd like to see the program import video directly from a camcorder, rather than requiring you to use iMovie first. Also welcome would be a feature that automatically recaptures DV versions of scenes whose original footage you discarded. That way, you could keep your compressed versions for cataloging, and then quickly recapture scenes that you wanted to use in a project.

But for a version 1 release, FootTrack does a lot and does it reasonably well. Check it out.