Extracting Metadata from QuickTime .mov Files


One of the annoying limitations of Avid Media Composer’s QuickTime AMA support is lack of metadata support other than an embedded timecode track and the filename itself. This limitation often rears its ugly head when using Arri Alexa generated Apple ProRes files and the dailies process has used the embedded 8 character REEL ID rather than the file name itself. The 8 character version allows it to work in existing CMX EDL workflows.

Performing AMA conform with camera originals when the offline clips only have the 8 characters can be challenging at best. Until Avid supports additional metadata extraction, or dedicated QuickTime AMA plug-ins,  users will need to look to third party tools to get that information. As seen in previous blog posts, DaVinci Resolve can be one of those tools. But sometimes, just a quick and easy application dedicated only to metadata and ALE creation is needed. There are tool such as QTChange from VideoToolshed that will embed timecode and Reel ID into a QuickTime which can be very handy when dealing with sources that have no metadata.

In the Arri Alexa scenario, we only need to extract the metadata, create an ALE file so that the metadata can be used. It should be noted that the Arri Alexa will generate an ALE file in camera with this information, but in the case where it is lost or you no longer have access to it, then a solution like MetaCheater will come to the rescue. Create an ALE from the QuickTimes and follow the ALE merge directions as described in the other workflows on this site, or read the Media Composer User Guide for Shot Log Import Settings.

MetaCheater was created by my friend Jabez Olssen, who is currently editing the second of the Hobbit movies for Peter Jackson. MetaCheater was developed as a need to get this metadata in some of the workflows that Jabez was dealing with at the time, and eventually became the solution for Red Camera support with Media Composer before there was a native R3D AMA plug-in. But I find, that 5 years later, I still use it to save my a** in many situations. So, to make it easier for other to have this application as part of their toolkit, Jabez has given me permission to host it here for download. This is a “donationware” application, and from what I understand, he has gotten four donation out of the 11,000 downloads so far. So, please donate if you find it useful. While I am guilty of not actually donating, I believe I covered it with some beers at the time.

I did write up an online entry at the time for StudioDaily on its use.

Download MetaCheater

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