What is a Keyword

If we’re going to discuss keywords, it would be good to have a common understanding of what we mean.  The clue is in the word itself: key word(s).

A keyword is one or two words that summarize the key idea in a range of media.

Key word(s): key idea.

A Keyword is what you want to remember about a range of media.

The details will vary from project to project, but keywords are an organizational structure to bring together material with the same key idea.

One of the biggest issues we have to deal with in Content Metadata is to determine a keyword strategy for naming our media ranges, a.k.a. selects.

Within Final Cut Pro X, the concept of a Keyword Range is very clear: apply a keyword to a selected range of media. The same idea can be applied within other NLEs by creating sub-clips for the media ranges and organizing them in bins. In that context the bin names would be the equivalent of keywords: what you would use as a bin name would be the same as would be used for a Keyword.

Keywords share a common philosophy as tags or keywords in other contexts. For example, within most image library applications (unfortunately not Photos) I can apply Keywords to an image to help organize my photos into categories. In macOS Finder I can apply keywords to files to make it easier to find them. (FindrCat can take your Final Cut Pro X Keywords and convert them to Finder Tags.)

There are two things to consider with keywords:

  • Keeping the keyword concise
  • Having the “right” number of keywords.

Key concepts are able to be summarized with few words. If you find yourself assigning more than three words, you’re probably not really embodying the key concept, but rather attempting a pseudo transcript, which can be valuable, but isn’t keywording.

For example: “Dropping out is not only embarrassing, it’s letting the team down” would be more appropriately keyworded as “Dropping Out”.

Similarly “Exciting news ken stunt guy is coming down Saturday to choreograph flash mob it’s huge he’s the biggest in Hollywood” should be keyworded as “Flash Mob”.

As well as keeping the keywords themselves concise, it is important to find the balance between too many keywords – where the clips you want are lost in the mountain of keywords – and too few keywords – again leading to an inability to find the clip(s) you want. Finding the balance is the key to good organization.

I’ve made both mistakes. Whether you over-keyword, or under-keyword, the result is much the same: you can’t find the content that you want to find. If there are too many keywords, the content is spread thin and you end up with large lists of keywords with few clip selects in each.

Continue on to Finding the Key Idea…