If you have a large collection of video files, you might want to consider additional software alongside your editing tools to organise and search your collection. There a few options to choose from, and you’ll be familiar with the concept if you have any experience with photo cataloging apps such as iPhoto or Picasa.
Read on to find out how well iDrive meets that need, and whether it deserves a place in your Applications folder!
You can download a free trial of iDive directly from the Aquafadas web site. Once you’ve installed it, a helpful guide screen opens on first run introducing some of iDive’s key features.
It also gives you the chance to automatically download and install a ‘demo catalog’ – a sample video clip library so you can experiment before starting on your own video clips.
To work with iDive, you need to understand its organisation model. Your videos will be organised into Libraries. Within libraries, you can create Containers which are either Events or Tape Groups.
Your individual video clips will be imported into iDive, and a sequence of clips will make up a Tape which usually corresponds to a physical tape from your camera and will be held in a library. Typically you would create a library for a set of connected tapes, e.g. ‘Work’ or ‘Family’ or for a large number of files such as ‘Summer Vacation’.
Different libraries may be stored in multiple, separate locations so it’s possible to have a library on a drive that you only mount when needed.
The iDive Interface
iDive presents an attractive interface divided into panes.
The toolbar lets you set up libraries and import and export your videos. The source panel lists the places in which your clips are organized. The clip pane shows you clips which are in your selected source (matching any search criteria you have specified), and the detail pane shows a view of the currently selected clip.
Across the top of the screen runs a timeline showing the dates of the clips in the pane below, which you can use to navigate to clips from a particular date.
The left hand pane can be switched from showing the video source to showing detailed clip information, or the find and annotation pane. These last two features are where you exploit the organisational power of iDive.
The way that iDive makes it easy for you to find a particular clip is by letting you add and then, later, search for annotations to that clip. Thus, annotations are a form of tagging under the three categories of people, places and events. In other words, for each clip you can record details such as the place it was shot, the people who appear in it, or an event it records.
Once you’ve applied annotations to your clips, you can search on them or select them by clicking in a list to rapidly find a clip with specific annotations from a whole library.
The way of applying annotations to the currently selected clip or clips is by checking them in a pop up list. You can, of course, apply multiple annotations to a clip. To speed the process, especially if you have many annotations to chose from, iDive lists both the most recently used and your favourite annotations first.
Importing and Exporting Your Video
iDive can import video in any format that QuickTime can read, which includes popular types like MOV, AVI, DV files and Flash animations. You can use third party codecs with QuickTime to extend this range. iDive will work with existing digital video files on your computer and with can directly import DV data from your camera which you can capture and compress using the “Import from Device” menu item.
A wizard takes you through the import process and lets you set parameters such as frame sampling intervals and compression.
When it comes to exporting selected clips from iDive for use in video projects, there is support for a range of options including QuickTime, iPod/ Phone, Apple TV and iMovie. You can also export clip lists to Final Cut Pro or Express and to Avid. Again, a wizard guides you through picking the export options you need.
When you’ve completed a project, you might like to make a copy on a DVD or other physical media. iDive has built in templates to print covers and contact sheets for a range of storage such as CD, miniDV tape and DVD .
You can easily drag and drop frames from iDive to make a cover that identifies what’s on the disc.
Aquafadas provides a very detailed manual for iDive but frustratingly, it’s from an earlier version. The documentation lags badly behind the current version of the software and that makes it difficult to get to grips with iDive as some features are clearly no longer available while others work differently. There is support available via an online forum but some comments there suggest responses are not always speedy.
iDive gives the impression of being a potentially useful tool for people with large video collections to manage but one that would benefit from increased attention from its authors. You can make up your own mind with the full-featured a trial version, limiting the amount of data that can be processed to 3 libraries, 5 tapes, 1 hour of imported video or 200 clips.