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Summary:

I’m an organizational freak. I organize everything. All of the files on my machine are organized into sub-folders of sub-folders of sub-folders using my own personal organizational system I’ve developed over the years. I know where everything is. The hardest files to organize and find, though, […]

I’m an organizational freak. I organize everything. All of the files on my machine are organized into sub-folders of sub-folders of sub-folders using my own personal organizational system I’ve developed over the years. I know where everything is. The hardest files to organize and find, though, have always been media files. Photographs, QuickTime files, Photoshop files, and Illustrator files can all get fairly difficult to find when you’ve got literally thousands of them floating around at any given time.

In addition to just finding the files themselves, there has never been a really good way to preview hundreds of files at one time. OS X’s Icon view in Finder can only do so much and even on my Dual 2.0 GHz G5 with 2.5GB of memory still takes a bit of time to actually show a preview of all the images. And then on top of that, actually searching for a images based on keywords is just plain impossible with the native features of OS X.

iView MultimediaEnter iView Multimedia. They are a software development company that began back in 1996 out of London, England. Their flagship products , and really only products, are iView Media and iView MediaPro (I used MediaPro for this review). Just to give you a quick idea of the credibility, their software has been include with both Roxio and Nikon products over the years.

I decided to give the product a try since, according to their website’s description of the product, it was exactly what I’ve been needing for all of these years.

Catalogs
iView Media’s database and setup is all based around catalogs. Catalogs are essentially databases that contain a plethora of information on each type of media in them. The media itself is not stored in the catalog. The only things stored in the catalog are thumbnail’s of media, information relevant to the media type, annotations (descriptions, keywords, etc), and the path to actual file. This allows you to search the database when the actual files are not even there. This is ideal when creating volumes of media files. You could have one CD which contained the iView Media Catalog and it would let you search through all your media and then once finding the file you like, it will tell you which CD it is located on. Since Catalogs store thumbnails, you would even get to preview all of your images on the “search” CD.

Thumbnail View

Adding Files
There are numerous ways to get your files imported into your catalogs.
iView Media Import

Drag-and-Drop
You can drag-and-drop any file, folder, hard disk, CD, or volume into an open catalog. You can even drag a folder that has other iView Media catalogs in it, and it will skip the files you already have cataloged!

Pictures/Movies Folders
iView Media has the ability to import media from the Pictures/Movies Folders on your operating system for the user you are logged in as. This feature only works for Mac OS X and Windows XP.

iPhoto
Obviously this is a Mac only feature. As with all other media contained in a iView catalogs, the media is merely linked to in your iPhoto library folders. But, it does have a feature to move those files out of the iPhoto folder and into a specified area.

Photoshop Album
For Windows only. Same as iPhoto.

Folder Watching
Now this is a pretty neat feature, one that iPhoto lacked and thus created my distaste for. Folder watching. The folder watching feature monitors folders that contain media within your catalog. When new media is added, this feature (along with Auto-update enabled) will automatically add the media to your catalog for you.

Internet
This feature is one that could really be used for good or bad though you should always stay within your legal rights when using it. This feature allows you to specify the URL of a particular image on the internet and it will then download the image for you into a specified “drop folder.”

Digital Camera
Yes indeed. You can import files directly from your digital camera into your catalog. This is a great feature for both amateurs and professionals.

Supported Media Types
iView Media has a very strong list of supported media types. It can import approximately 200 different file formats from movies to Illustrator files to images and even fonts. Yes fonts. I personally am an Extensis Suitcase fan for font organization, but the font organization support for iVew Media is superb.

Image Editing
iView Media Image Editor
This program boasts a fine list of image editing tools:

  • Crop
  • Resize
  • Transform
  • Rotate
  • Sharpen Edges
  • Remove Grain
  • Remove Red Eye
  • Convert to Duotone
  • Adjust Saturation
  • Adjust Brightness & Contrast
  • Adjust Color Balance
  • Adjust Color Levels
  • Invert Photo Negative

All of these do a fine job that even rivals some Photoshop image editing tools. My only complaint with a few of these tools was the speed of rendering applied effects. You can even convert your media to other media formats with the editor.

Catalogs, In Detail
As previously mentioned, catalogs are the horse that pulls this buggy. There are literally a plethora of different way to organize and view your catalogs.

There’s the List view which gives you a spreadsheet style listing of your files with more detailed info than you can shake 2 sticks at.
iView Media List View

The Thumbnail view gives you a nice juicy look at what you’ve got. The thumbnails can be sized to practically any size necessary and is perfect for searching through your media collection. In this view you can do batch editing to pictures.
iView Media Thumbnail View

The final view, Media, is the all-in-one media viewer. It views images, plays movies, and lets you listen to audio. Fantastic.
iView Media Media View

Annotations
iView AnnotationsAnnotations are the fields where information is stored about your media. Similar to fields in a database. It comes with 19 pre-defined fields. What’s cool about the annotations are that they comply with IPTC standards. This means forward compatibility. It means that your data will be compliant with information exchange for the coming years. Even cooler is that iView Media supports Adobe XMP which is Adobe’s metadata standard. If you edit annotations in Photoshop such as copyright, author, etc, it will transfer into iView Media. So cool.

Two other very cool annotation types are voice and color annotations. Tired of typing out the story behind a photograph? Well then just record yourself telling the story. Then there’s color annotations. Called “sample colors,” these annotations are automatically generated on import based on the dominant color of the image. For me, this was actually the most lacking feature. It rarely seemed to pick what I thought would the dominant color and I found myself having to manually go in and tediously edit them.

Annotations were one of the deciding factors in my choosing to go with iView Media. Specifically keywords. I can specific keywords out the wahzoo for media types and then easily search for them later on. Good stuff here folks, good stuff.

Make note that these annotations are not saved with the file itself unless you choose to enable that feature.

Search and Find
What would a strong database be without a way to find the information it contained? You can search for media based up on up to 6 different criteria at any one time. This and the ability to use Boolean commands basically makes sure you never have trouble finding what you are looking for.
iView Media Find

Slide Shows
A feature that seems to be native to most media organization apps today is the ability to make a slide show. This slide show arena is not one that iView Media necessarily have been innovative with. But don’t get me wrong, it works. Transitions, audio, annotations, and more are all features included but don’t expect to much out of the ordinary with this.

Export Features
Incredible. iView wasn’t monopolistic at all with this program. They’ve created practically ever option under the sun for getting your media to other places. There’s a fantastic HTML Gallery feature that auto-creates thumbnails and creates full HTML pages. You can even export your annotations into a spreadsheet. Other options include contact sheets, backup CD/DVD’s, and XML Data files. You can also do batch file conversions with the export feature.

In Closing
As stated before, for the most part, has it all. If you need organization of media, whether on a personal or professional level, iView has the apps for the job. This program is a breath of fresh air in the sea of media organization applications.

5 out of 5 stars!

Version reviewed: MediaPro 2.6.2
Computer used: Dual 2.0 GHz PowerMac G5, 2.5GB RAM, NVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra

  1. I have used this application for many years and I love it. iPhoto keeps getting better but it still isn’t as good as this application IMHO.

    One handy thing I like to do with this application when burning backups of my photography is to create a disk image of the files I am going to burn and then create a catalog of them using iView. I can then include the catalog on the CD/DVD along with the original files and the paths to the files in the catalog will be correct allowing you to view the fullsize images and open them in external applications without needing to update the paths first. Also before burning the CD/DVD I like to use this application to embed the thumbnails and to create custom Finder icons for all of the images.

    One thing Josh forgot to mention when he mentioned the font support is that iView can generate previews of fonts that are not currently installed or activated. If you are a font collector like I am this is a very valuable feature.

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  2. I enjoyed reading this review, thanks very much! I am only now contemplating using catlogues extensively as previousy I arranged photo folders by topic and chronology.

    I have used iView Media Pro extensively for online galleries; see: Link. It has been wodnerful tool and iPhoto hasn’t caught up yet.

    My wishlist – a slidehow function for viewers of the web galleries, and more varieties of free HTML templates. It does need better documentation and examples and I feel it still still favours technical users.

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  3. Sivashoti, I personally think the documentation was, if anything, overkill. But to each his/her own. :)

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  4. Perhaps. I looked all the full mannual (iViewFullManual_MP25_Eng.pdf) and realise its much better now.

    But I struggle with these things and would have appreciated better guidance over certain things like with html template modifications.

    Before I dismiss iPhoto so casually as I did above, friends who are not IT-savvy find it intuitive and it finally dawned on me what Apple was up to.

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  5. I just bought it yesterday: great app!
    If there’s one thing I miss, its ShoeBox’ more flexible, hierarchical keywords system. Oh, and I’d really like them to change font display to Quartz everywhere.

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  6. I am seriously contemplating this program, but how does it compare to Extensis Portfolio? I need some opinions, quickly. Thanks.

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  7. Hi Gary. I’ve uses Portfolio only a little bit but would say that MediaPro is worlds ahead of it. I’ve talked to numerous people who have switched and are glad they did. MediaPro (from my experience) is just more customizeable to your needs.

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  8. Have been planning on using Portfolio, but my brother just put me onto this program.
    Questions 1) can you easily open the media in its native program from within the catalogs, i.e., photo in Photoshop? 2) can it automatically size picture and open in mail? 3) are there any specialty print functions?
    I need the first one, my family needs the others. iPhoto is so great, but it just doesn’t answer all the needs for active photographers.

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  9. Answering Andrew, the answer is yes to 1) and 2). I’ve looked at Portfolio, still use iPhoto and try to remain organized but it is against my nature – that said after a month of trying iView i am close to deciding to get it though, to be honest, I still haven’t got round to figuring out everything it can do. Though like Andrew above, I definitely need 1) and 2) and know that they work well, as does batch renaming and sorting by label.

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  10. Guillermo Álvarez Tuesday, March 29, 2005

    As a photographer I think this is the best application I´ve ever seen for cataloging my work.
    I only miss one thing. I would like to open the photos out of the catalogue, just like other applications do. (Like a pop-up)

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