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You may have already heard of AV3's Get, an app designed to search video files. Now, it's available as a Boris product at a sticker of $299. Affordable and easy to use, this review finds the app an indispensable tool.
I remember stopping by a booth at NAB in 2010 and seeing this great software called by AV3
. I remarked that this would be wonderful if it were ½ the price -- and now it is! Get, which won a Black Diamond Award at the 2010 NAB, is an application that works with Final Cut Pro to search for words using a text box in a given folder of your FCP files. AV3 marketed the app at a sticker price of $500, but now it's going for $299 under the name of Boris Soundbite
. At this price, this is an app that every documentary editor should have -- and would be useful for any editor.
The app is designed to work more dynamically with Final Cut Pro 6/7 but will also work with both FCPX
and Adobe Premiere Pro
Boris Soundbite is not a plugin, but a separate app that works with FCP somewhat like PluralEyes
. Installing it is a breeze and there is only one app -- you don't need a separate one for the different NLEs.
Once installed, you launch it and select a folder to search. While it is running, there is a blue "S" icon on the top toolbar of your Mac that will be there no matter what app you are in.
Say you are editing in FCP 7, and your character mentions a Polka
and you want to find another shot of someone talking about Polka
(I am making a film about the Polka Band Brave combo, so I have polka on my mind.) You just click on that "S" icon and the pull down window, while in FCP, and when you type in "Polka", the app jumps to the front with a list of files that contain the word "Polka," along with the number of occurrences of the word in the shot and the date it was created. If you get too many or too few hits, you can change the score. I found that about 75 works well as a starting spot. The higher the number, the more selective the choices.
Soundbite rates the accuracy of the search results by giving each result a score.
When you click on the clip, another window opens with the clip in it and with markers for each occurrence. Hit left and right arrows to move within the clip, up and down to do the next one -- it's that easy.
Once in the app, you can choose to look at media in a specific folder -- so if you want to find the bandleader talking about polka, you can click on his folder.
You can also save a search as a smart collection, or add several searches by hitting the + button. So, you can search for a "polka" and "Chicago". You can additionally use other search criteria, such as "duration," "reel name," or any of those type descriptors as well as if it starts with ends with contains any of these.
Once you have found the clip you want to use, you can mark in the clip window then export in back into FCP (after giving it a name and sending it to a folder) and it shows up in the browser with a marker on the word "polka". But I prefer to hit the export markers button. This will send the markers into the clip that is currently in your project. How cool is that?
So... that is the workflow for FCP 6/7. If you are working in FCP X or Premiere Pro, you can't do that last step of sending the markers back to the clip you have. For Premiere, you export the clip and then import it. In FCP X, you export as an xml, then import the xml file.
MORE THAN JUST SEARCHING FILM & VIDEO FILES
While this is meant for searching film and video files, you can also select the watch file to your iTunes file to find lyrics in songs if you want to. I am sure there are many things Soundbite can do for you that goes beyond searching for dialogue. We are in an age when learning to control data is important, so any way you can quickly turn audio files into searchable data is a great thing!
So how accurate is it? It really is hard to say. While I have done many searches, what I don't know is what it did not
find. I find it much better than the transcribing in Premiere, and about the same as a well trained Siri. It finds a few things that are close to, but not exactly, what I was looking for. However, it does find a lot of great material, and helps me put together different people talking about the same idea pretty easily... and the interface is clean and easy to use.
The only real downside I could see to this is if you totally depend on it and have not watched/listened to your tracks. There may be a line that it does not pick up because a truck went by, or it was muffled, or just not enunciated well. The best guard against that is to dial down the score to catch everything. If you use this as a tool
, but not your only way for looking for footage, it will serve you well. There is no shortcut for knowing your footage. Sound bit does not take the place of logging.
Another advantage of this app is that by listening to all these people mentioning the same work, you might find connections that might not be obvious otherwise. In a sense, using this lets a documentary editor select shots in the way a narrative editor might select takes.
Boris now has gone from single station editing to workgroup support in version 2 of Soundbite. Now it can expand to multiple work stations on a server, and this is being used at ABC/Disney, Showtime Networks, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Turner Studios, and Nike.
Once you use this, you may find it hard to think of having FCP open without running this app.
- Fast efficient and cost effective way to search through your files.
- Will save hours of searching and cut down editing time.
- Will assist in creating flow of themes.
- Integration into FCP X and Premiere Pro could be better.
- Could lull you into a false sense that you don't need to log everything.
An indispensable tool for documentary editor and great application for all editors to have on hand.