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.
Enter 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
For Windows only. Same as iPhoto.
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.
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.”
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.
This program boasts a fine list of image editing tools:
- 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.
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.
Annotations 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.
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.
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.
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