Gathering and Using Technical Metadata

Technical Metadata

The Technical Metadata is sourced from the camera and includes the technical information you’d expect, but also each camera has it’s own additional information. More…

File Based Metadata

Most Technical Metadata is file-based, because it relates to the whole file, but each format stores the information in its own way. More…

Metadata Standards

There are many metadata standards but I only cover those that you are likely to encounter in modern production workflows. More…

Transform Metadata

Transform metadata transforms the result in some way, without creating new media or rendering. It Transforms the source without changing it. More…

Acquiring Technical Metadata

Technical metadata comes with the file from the camera, because it is dependent on the camera and the type of file(s) it produces. Some technical metadata is in the file itself, but in other cases it resides in a sidecar file in the same directory as the media file. Sidecar files are usually an XML file with relevant information in them. Each type of XML file is specific to the camera that created it.

These sidecar files are why it is important to always maintain the entire card structure before importing to an NLE.

Automating workflows

Technical metadata is frequently used to automate media processing workflows such as:

  • Resizing based on file aspect ratio (UHD > HD > SD) and making center cut versions
  • Remapping metadata from camera to NLE specific fields
  • e.g. Remap card name or directory to tape or clip name in Avid Media Composer
  • Automated offline/online conform using metadata in an Avid ALE or AAF
  • Batch synchronizing audio and video based on timecode metadata.
    • This is handled natively in Media Composer or using Sync-N-Link X for Final Cut Pro X. Premiere Pro does not support batch synching of double system via timecode although it will sync individual clips in the app (as do Media Composer and Final Cut Pro X).
  • Tracking lens serial numbers through visual effects for enhanced compositing.
    • Lens ID metadata is tracked from the shoot because every lens has unique (and quite subtle) distortions. These need to be reversed out of the media before composition with additional elements. If we didn’t reverse the distortion, added elements would be subtly different from the clip, as shot.
    • Once the composite is complete, the distortion map is re-applied to the composite to match other shots.

There aren’t a lot of commercial applications for technical metadata. They tend to be very specific to the needs of a particular workflow or organization.