Monday, October 15, 2007

Working with Metadata

Today, I want to look at metadata. For Forensic Video Analysts, this might be an under used part of the work flow. For photographers, this might be a bit of a review. I want to highlight a few easy ways to add metadata info to multiple images, thus saving you a ton of time. For these exercises, we will be working in Bridge.

Option 1
With all of the images that you want to work with in the same folder, you can select them all by clicking on Control-A. With all of the images selected, click to the right of the info field that you want to work with to activate it. Then start typing. When you are finished, press Enter. All of your images will now have this custom metadata. If you only want to apply custom metadata to certain images within the folder, Control-Click on the images to select the images that you want to work with. Then work with the info as stated above. Remember to click Enter when you are done to apply the changes.

Option 2
You'll need to start with an image on which to base your template. Select the image and choose Tools>Create Metadata Template. This will bring up the template dialog. Turn on the check boxes for those metadata categories that you want to be visible. Then, in the fields to the right of the descriptions, type in your data. This can be your basic case information such as investigating officer, case file number, defendant's name, and so forth. Use the scroll bar on the right to get to the bottom of the template. At the top of the box is Template Name. Make sure to name the template as this will be the name that you'll see listed when you go to apply the template later. When you are done, click on the Save button on the bottom of the dialog box.
Not that you've created your template, applying it is easy. Simply Click / Control-Click on the relevant images and select Tools>Append Metadata. Then choose your template from the list. Once chosen, the metadata is appended to the images. Each one of these options takes just a few seconds to perform.

You can change how the metadata is displayed by clicking on/off the check boxes. You will also have to decide on where to put info for your case, such as case record number; as there is not yet a law enforcement version of the standard metadata dialog.

A Third Option?
One company, Pound Hill, has a promising product called MetaGrove. This product lets you design and deploy custom metadata fields and works with Adobe's suite of products. Here is a blurb from their web site:

MetaGrove™: A Comprehensive Toolkit for XMP Metadata Cultivation.

Based on the XMP open standard for metadata, the integrated MetaGrove software toolkit greatly enhances the metadata capturing and storing capabilities of Adobe Creative Suite. MetaGrove capabilities include:

  • Definition of custom schema and metadata properties. 
  • Creation of custom user interfaces. 
  • Automated custom links to external media management systems. 
  • Unlimited automation possibilities.
The comprehensive toolkit consists of MetaGrove Developer and MetaGrove Plug-ins for Adobe’s Creative Suite.

This product looks promising. I have received a demo version from the company, but have yet to deploy it. With my agency, I need to identify funding prior to using trial ware on case work, so that it can be purchased after the trial expires. There was the issue of the plug-ins. At this time, users need a plug-in to view the custom metadata and Pound Hill charges for the plug-ins. I understand that they are working with Adobe on licensing issues that would allow them to distribute a read-only version of the plug-in for free. This would be an absolute necessity for those of us in law enforcement. I can't image having to tell an attorney that he has to pay $199 to view my metadata.

In the next installments, we'll get right into the work flow. 

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