Useful software for videographers and photographers – Part 1

Over the years I have purchased or downloaded for free many small pieces of software to achieve specific results or solutions. Some are used a couple of times and then deleted, others, like Christmas dogs, stay with me forever. I thought I would run through some of them here as they may prove useful to you one day.
MPEG Streamclip by Squared 5 is one of the best known video converters and despite owning powerful conversion software by Avid, Apple and Adobe, this is the one I use the most. Firstly it produces files that are universally playable and recommended by stock sites. Secondly it can convert sections of a DVD to a QT file that can be imported to Avid. Thirdly it is quick to use and the presets are logical. Finally it is very small programme that has little impact on computer resources.

MPEG Streamclip options

Most editors know that attaching Apple formatted drives to a Windows PC just doesn’t work unless you install Mediafour’s Mac Drive which allows you to be totally agnostic about the drive format. But another of the company’s software, Disk Aware has been the find of the year for me. Disk Aware analyses every folder and file on a drive and presents it as a list arranged in size order and also as a colour-coded wheel which shows you the relative size of the files and folders. Simply click on a segment and analyse the next layer down.

DiskAware – The Wheel
The programme only costs $10 per computer but it can analyse any drive: internal, external, flash and even network drives. It enables easy clearing up of drives and lets you work out why all your storage has disappeared. 
One tool I used for a while, dropped and have returned to is IrfanView, the strangely named freeware viewer for PCs. One of the more recent improvements is IrfanView Thumbnails which you get when you install the complete set of plugins and I place as a shortcut on the desktop. It opens up an explorer window with a light grey background to distinguish it from Windows Explorer. Open up a folder containing mixed media and almost immediately it is populated with thumbnails which can be set to many sizes, not just Window’s three. 
IrfanView Thumbnails of text, video and .psd
Thumbnails are shown for videos (with filmstrip icon), stills (even Photoshop) and text. PDFs are not shown however. One of the most useful tools is the ability to save those thumbnails as separate images for putting into a spreadsheet for example. Hovering over a thumbnail reveals information about the file itself such as dimensions, although for video only the dimensions of the thumbnail itself are shown. Like most features of IrfanView they are a work in progress, but the ability to see thumbnails from both videos and Photoshop files make it worth having.
In Part 2 I look at a a couple of sound tools, a backup programme and a couple of tools for uploading and managing material at iStock and Smugmug.


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