Do YOU use Metadata?

Ok, I’m sure you are a little overwhelmed with the amount of info in the last post. One of the side benefits of THE DOORS project was getting to know some of the individuals who read (& now contribute) to this site, so knowing what a hard working, talented & diverse crowd of people you all are, I have a question for you: Do you use Metadata?

While I’d like to dream that my own 4TB sound library is all perfectly tidy and tagged with exquisitely detailed metadata, the truth is quite different. So relatedly I’d like to hear anecdotal stories of what state your sound library is in? What library app do you use? How big is your library? What is it stored on? What is it backed up to? And do you actually use metadata?

My library is on 2 x 2TB G Tech RAIDs which are set to read only; anything I access off them gets copied to the 3 x 1TB internal work/project drives on my Mac Pro PT HD2 system. For backup, I have a clone copy on 2 x 2TB RAIDs at my home studio (PT LE w DV Toolkit) and I also have an offsite copy on raw 1TB drives.

I use SoundMiner Pro to access my library at work and AudioFinder at home (although I do plan to buy SoundMiner for home) Little of my library has metadata – one use for it I do pursue is that when I finish a film I tend to archive the final library sessions of that film back into my library, so eg for the film BOY I archived BOY Ambiences, BOY Foley and BOY FX. For easy access later & as a visual reminder, I search & find these folders (using a path search in SoundMiner) and then tag all those files with ‘BOY ambience’ or ‘BOY foley’ or ‘BOY FX’ into the description field. Sometimes the fastest way to find a file is to think of where it may have been used previously!

Funnily enough it was through starting HISSandaROAR that I investigated metadata, and I will pursue updating the rest of my library as time allows…. As.Time.Allows.

And you?

11 thoughts on “Do YOU use Metadata?

  1. Max

    I use metadata very systematically, and a lot of it, mainly for descriptive purposes. Since there’s not a smart semantic SFX-app yet (and I hope it is coming!) I created my own system to help describe the content, so I can find the right stuff when I need it.
    The guys at music technology in Barcelona were doing some research on automated FX-recognition some years ago, but I think that project is dead. Metadata creation/recognition/managing a difficult field but the room for improvement is huge I think.

    On the technical side I’m actually simply using ID3-tags in AIF-files in iTunes for my library. You have to be a bit careful to write the metadata really into the file, not just the iTunes database, but once you figure that out it works. Something that’s not real easy is playing back multitrack-files though, this only works with QT-movies, not with aif-files. So you either split them up into multiple stereo-files or do the work to create mov’s. After that it works fine.
    The ID3-tags have the advantage that a lot of the existing fields are useful, artist for owner/publisher, album for project-name, and there’s more fields for your own personal metadata. And I guess ID3-tags will be readable to pretty much every app that’s to come, so I’m on the safe side, future-proof I hope 🙂
    I use Snapper for browsing in iTunes and making selections in soundfiles, it can also spot to ProTools or folders, and more DAWs in the coming version I guess.

    Storing is on hard-disks with regualar backups. Still have to set up the ‘far-away-copy’… better do it soon!

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  3. Frank Bry

    I’ve been using Soundminer ever since it came out. My workflow was never the same. I love the speed at which I can find and import sfx into Pro Tools. There has never been a project I’ve worked on that I have not used it since I bought Soundminer. I love the fact you can also “design” in Soundminer with pitch change and VST.

    My library is around 6TB and stored on way to many hard drives but only 3/4 has Metadata that is complete. It’s a full time job just putting it in. I completely tag everything I can right after I edit the raw sounds so I don’t get a back log of metadata grunt work. ( I really hate doing it) I wish I had the energy to tag the raw sounds but I usually don’t use them after I’m done editing them into usable final portions.

    I must have metadata and Soundminer is the most powerful for me. Being able to import and export text to the files is key. I tend to do things in bulk. Searching for sounds is also great. I can drill down to a specific sound file in seconds and filter out the ones I don’t want to hear. I am so comfortable using it and I’ve tried other apps but I always come back to Soundminer.



  4. jeff p

    I actually dont add metadata as much as I should. I am only using miniminer right now and that doesn’t allow me to edit the meta data of the files. So generally I put all pertinent information in the file name. I also use folders in the library. So for example I have a folder called 2496 This folder is everything I have recorded custom myself. Inside that folder are more folders “hard fx” or “Bg’s” and so if I’m looking for something I did personally I can filter via a folder search followed by the name of what I’m looking for. I also have a folder called “from movie projects” and that will have custom sounds I recorded in a folder by name of movie. So again i can do a search for that. Since I don’t have more then 2 databases with miniminer I found this to be an acceptable workaround.

    Another thing about miniminer that is a limitation but now I like is that you cant spot to protools but you can drag to a finder window. So what I do now is create a new scratch folder for every project and drag files from miniminer to that and then drag them to protools. I like the ability to drag and drop the region on the timeline. I also like the ability to create more folders inside the scratch folder for different things (different episodes of the same series).

    If I am going to start a big project the first thing I do is wipe clean my second “music” database in miniminer (they only allow sfx and music database). I then create a scratch folder for the project and whatever the main theme of the film is I start searching for sounds I will need. I search for anything that I think i might want for the project and put it into this extra scratch folder. I then import that folder into the second database in miniminer for the duration of that project.

    For $200 bucks miniminer has limitations sure but I’ve gotten my monies worth and I can upgrade to the full version at a later date only paying the difference. Not bad.

  5. Tim Walston

    Hi Tim,

    I keep all of my library on read-only drives, like you, and all sounds I use get copied to my internal cutting drive. I have many firewire drives and migrate the data onto bigger drives as they become available & affordable… leaving the older copies as backups.

    I use Soundminer v4 Pro at home and at work, but my first real library program was David Farmer’s awesome Soundlog Pro (kudos to Dave for sharing that bit of heaven with the rest of us). Soundlog got me started on good habits (that I have now, sadly let slide): When I created a new sound, I would switch to the FileMaker-based database and fill in the description. Then SLP created a unique name, based on my description. Then I copied the generated name, and pasted it into the sound in Pro Tools. It didn’t take long, and kept my database up to date. The filemaker database solution was separate from the files themselves, but easily linked, via

    I’m a big fan of Soundminer and I have plans to import all my database info into it. It’s possible, but a lot of work. Someday… BUT, Soundminer adds an extra step. I have to scan the new sound into SM first, then name or fill in descriptions, etc. It’s less convenient, so when I’m “in the moment” I don’t take the time. I just rely on a name with some keywords in it.

    My current lazy workaround is this: Each show is contained within a show folder. As I pull effects to use in my session, I use a library folder inside the show folder as the destination. I further pull effects into category folders in Soundminer’s spotting field first, then transfer them to PT. SO… I will have a library folder that has sub-folders like “Wind”, “Fire”, “Reel 4 Car Crash” etc., and the files I pull in go in there. This means that later on, when I scan the whole show into Soundminer, those folder names become keywords to help me find things.

    The other benefit of this, is that I know any brand new material will exist in the session’s audio files folder, not in the library folder. This makes is easier later on to find the new stuff, or tells me where I need to fill in those useful descriptions… in my free time. Right.

  6. mny

    Since my own library is still pretty small and I don`t have the money to buy soundminer I write all of the necessary information into the file name. This does work quite good for the moment, but when the library gets beyond let`s say 1000 files I should spend my money on soundminer.
    I´m still wondering why these quite simple programs do cost that much money and I think I gotta ask at university if anybody could write a simple metadate program=), but I guess it´s far more complicated than I think it is ;).

  7. Rene Coronado

    I work in a facility where 5 of us are accessing the same set of sfx for our stuff (Dallas Audio Post Group), so metadata is hugely important for us.

    I’m the librarian for that stuff, so I have a pretty stringent methodology for how I deal with it all. I spend probably 6-10 hours every week dealing with the recording and importing of new sfx into the facility system. Here’s what I do:
    -edit and otherwise prep sfx from their raw state
    -put edited sfx in a to be filed folder
    -rebuild all waveform overviews
    -put sfx to be filed into a soundminer database labeled “import db”
    -add all metadata, including descriptors, mics, photos, and anything else relevant. Sometimes tagging fx with a specific project is useful, but that usefulness tends to erode over time and across people.
    -once all of the metadata is in, I embed it to the bwav files
    -remove all records from the import db file
    -move the bwav files to the main (read only) sfx server
    -add new sfx from the main sfx server to the master sfx soundminer database
    -distribute the updated database to the other rooms
    -back up the new files to the sfx server backup drives
    -high five.
    I don’t work from home, so portability is not an issue with me. Our drives are 4tb raid6 arrays.

    when I purchase a library from Hiss and A Roar (or anywhere else these days) I go through and augment the metadata as needed before adding it.

    For example, on the Veg Violence library, I batch added the word “gore” to everything, as well as the Hiss and A Roar tags, and the Tim Prebble tag (since hiss and a roar is pretty unsearchable in this context)

    I also grabbed a screenshot of the cool vegetable violence logo you put on the site and embedded that as the image for all of the files in the library.
    In the case of larger libraries I have just rolled with their metadata in the past, and sometimes I’ll just augment things on the fly when I find myself repeatedly looking for things. I think we’re pretty much done buying larger libraries as a facility though. The combination of our own recording resources and the cool stuff you and chuck russom and others are doing is making that stuff obsolete.

    1. tim Post author

      great stuff Rene

      So when you store the edited version into the main library, do you store it as interleaved audio? How do you deal with multi-channel eg quad etc?

      1. Rene

        yep, always interleaved, that way I don’t have some files with metadata embedded and some files without. I have a few things that are done in 5.1 that I interleave as well, and soundminer handles them expertly. The way we’re set up you can’t really audition the sounds in 5.1, but you can audition them, so when you bring them in you can spot them properly.

        We also have some files that are stored as stereo files that aren’t really stereo, but instead are 2 diff mono perspectives. The perspectives are labeled in the metadata and the most common perspective is put on the right side of the file because when you spot stereo sounds into a mono track out of soundminer you end up just looking at the .R file in the timeline. The stereo file is still there in the bin of course, but by consciously setting our files up to work with how soundminer operates we save ourselves steps when cutting sfx.

  8. Henrik Nåmark

    I’ve recently taking the step to going from semi- to close to full pro. That doesn’t mean my productions are perfect but at least I work full time with it.

    At this stage I haven’t got to the metadata part yet. I have about 6GB of effects and growing. At the moment I use the search-in-folder-approach which works for now. But it’s slowly getting overwhelming.

    Soundminer Pro looks pretty neat but today I was thinking about purchasing Basehead instead.

    Just some thoughts from a sound n00b 😉

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