A few months ago I started working on a project that I’ve been meaning to jump into for some time. It’s called CodeBook, and is (at least in the prototype stages) a FileMaker database system designed for use across Production and Post.
CodeBook databases, named after the manual editorial code books used in the pre-digital days for managing film data in the editing room, are fairly common. Many editors and assistants have their own FileMaker databases containing their “secret sauce” for managing projects in the cutting room. These databases range from basic, no-frills, hand rolls to very elaborate systems designed to handle a variety of tasks.
But there is no single standard guiding any of these, and the type and quality of data maintained within these databases varies quite a bit. Also, there is no all-encompassing solution that will provide data, especially shot-centric metadata, that can be used across post, from production to the cutting room and VFX.
A couple of years ago the Visual Effects Society (VES) came out with a database model, implemented in a number of forms including a FileMaker Pro version, that is designed for on-set data capture of information for VFX… Cameras, Lenses, Focal Lengths, Film Stock, etc., etc. The thing that has always blown my mind is that all of this data tends to be acquired by hand, on set, usually by someone (or multiple someones if a number of VFX companies are involved) when, especially on films using digital acquisition, all of this metadata is captured by the cameras and/or recording devices, but never used for anything.
CodeBook will begin by incorporating much of the data model from the VES project, which is open source, and build a data framework that can be used across the entire post workflow. I’m going to offer it as an open source, under a creative-commons-type, use it at your own risk license.
I started working on this earlier in the year, while working on a TV MoW… They Post Producer was really concerned about timing sheets and continuity sheets, and had been relying on a number of MS-Word documents and manual calculations to create everything… So I set up some Avid bin exports into a filemaker codebook database that could create reports and automate the functions. Major time savings.
The plan is to implement a traditional codebook database using the VES data model as a base, and then building out to include functionality for both Cutting Room and VFX use. I’ll be sharing through this site and GitHub, and hope to be able to solicit, and incorporate, feedback from users as we go.