A simple tool to properly catalog metadata across a variety of stock footage websites

On Great Decisions Television, where I work as a producer and the supervising video editor, we have a team of researchers who pull b-roll footage from the internet. Many of these researchers are interns who don’t stay with us from season to season, so they have to be trained quickly and have a clear workflow. We have licensing deals in place with several footage companies and we also use public domain and Creative Commons sources. We need to be sure that we properly credit Creative Commons footage and we were starting to run into issues where researchers were not entering crediting information into our master b-roll spreadsheet correctly, or not doing it in a standard way. Sometimes, they were accidentally selecting footage that wasn’t public domain or Creative Commons and that, therefore, we could not use.

This created hours of work for me during crunch time trying to figure out the correct credits, or frantically scrambling to replace the perfect clip that we weren’t actually allowed to use.

Enter the B-Roll Credit Copier. A tool, admittedly, not named in a fit of creative passion. This is a Chrome extension I developed for our b-roll researchers. When they’re on the webpage of a clip they’d like to flag for our editors, say, a YouTube video, they can click an icon in the Chrome address bar and instantly, all of the correct metadata for our spreadsheet is copied to the clipboard. They can then go over to our spreadsheet and paste all the data in. All the information, the credit in particular, is guaranteed to be correct, saving me hours when I’m building the credits.

Other Benefits

But there are other huge benefits as well. The Chrome extension warns you if you’re trying to copy footage that isn’t Creative Commons or is not in HD. A new researcher who doesn’t really have a firm grasp on what Creative Commons is or how to quickly distinguish HD from SD footage receives instant feedback that there may be issues with the clip they’re trying to flag, cutting down on the amount of bad or unusable footage.

Save Time

To copy-paste all the relevant information to our b-roll spreadsheet by hand requires about 20 seconds of work. There are several columns that need filling out so you have to go back and forth, copying column by column. The Credit Copier turns those 20 seconds into pretty much…instant. We find a lot of b-roll. We try to give editors options so most lines in our script have several b-roll choices. Across a recent 13-episode season, our researchers found about 6,500 clips. If you apply those 20 seconds of time saving across all those clips, the B-Roll Credit Copier saved nearly a week of tedious manual work!

Open Source

After using this extension internally for several years, I have now open-sourced it and made it available to anyone who wants to use it. The full source code is available on Github and the extension can be installed for free from the Chrome Web Store.

Chrome Extensions

We use a number of custom Chrome extensions on Great Decisions. Our workflow is heavily reliant on Google Docs and Chrome extensions are a great way to standardize and streamline browser-based tasks. If you’re finding yourself spending a big chunk of your post-production day in a web browser or spreadsheet, or if your deliverables require accurate reporting, there are probably ways to speed up your workflow. Get in touch and let’s see if we can find ways to make you or your company more efficient.