Review: FootTrack

by on September 7, 2005

Apple’s iTunes and iPhoto have become great places for organizing music and photos, but what about videos? The latest versions of iTunes can store and play certain QuickTime video files, but the functionality feels tacked on. Worse, it still hard to really look for a video in a textual list.

FootTrack, a $50 program from T-Squared Software hopes to alleviate any QuickTime-playable video cataloging hassles. With an interface similar to iPhoto, you can quickly find, compress, burn, capture, or just have a better handle on your digital videos. FootTrack can even split up DV footage at timecode breaks like iMovie does (something Final Cut Express and Pro doesn’t).

Tapes
FootTrack Tape List

Clips
The iPhoto-like Clips View

Playback
Playback of a Clip

The other problem with Apple’s current methods for sorting files is that many people who are serious about video keep it in some place other than the Movies folder (usually an external hard drive). With files ending up all over the place, it’s hard to remember what went where, even with things like Spotlight helping out.

After installing and launching FootTrack, you’ll be greeted with an iPhoto-like interface, although there are quite a few Safari-like toolbar buttons at the top. Even without reading the PDF “manual”, the program is pretty simple to figure out. You can import files into the catalog, just like iTunes, except they stay in their original places (handy if you keep the files on an external drive and still want to have direct access to them later).

The left-hand side of the program features Tapes and Groups, similar to playlists in iTunes or albums in iPhoto. Below that is a list of keywords you can add to clips, making it easier to sort them with “Smart Groups”. The right-hand side of the program either shows a list of tapes and their run times, or a graphical display of clips. Two buttons toggle the clip view to show it in an iPhoto-like format, or a more detailed format. You can also play back video clips by double-clicking them.

You might be thinking, “It sorts my videos and makes them easy to find, but that’s not worth $50!” Video cataloging is only the tip of the iceberg. Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express don’t have as elegant of a solution as iMovie for capturing footage from a camera. Instead of breaking up the footage into clips at every pause or stop, it’s brought in as one long DV file. FootTrack gives you the nice iMovie-style capturing, but doesn’t require you to use iMovie. In fact, you can take those clips and throw them into a Final Cut Pro project, or just leave them in FootTrack.

The other use for FootTrack is to catalog tapes. If you capture footage from tapes, but compress it instead, you have a quick preview of what is on one of those DV tapes floating around your workspace. This saves on hard drive space, and allows you to look for things that you might need later. From there, all you have to do is find the physical tape and capture it again in an uncompressed format.

It’s worth noting that FootTrack can capture video clips to any location, and can keep its catalog in any other location. This allows you to keep new footage on an external drive and have multiple catalogs.

I found FootTrack useful for keeping tabs on video clips captured using various PVR products, like the Plextor’s ConvertX PVR for Mac, ElGato’s EyeTV 200, or Miglia’s EvolutionTV. Even though each of these products have their own place to keep recorded shows, getting them out of the list and onto another drive is useful.

Our only gripes are interface-related. When zooming, it would be nice to zoom to one clip (like iPhoto does), rather than 3 or 4 horizontally. Keywords don’t work with searches, but they can be used for Smart Groups. Some might find that there aren’t as many keyboard shortcuts as there could be. Finally, I really wish there was a playback in full-screen mode.

Overall, FootTrack is a great program that is indespensible for anyone who deals with lots of video files, and doesn’t want to wait for Apple to get their act together. It works very well, and has quite a few extra features that pro users will appreciate.

The One-Sentence Verdictâ„¢

The lost member of the iLife family is here, and it works well.

Pros: Sorts any video file playable in QuickTime (this includes DV), simple interface, good feature set, store video clips on other drives

Cons: No full-screen playback

The Facts

5/5Product: FootTrack
Company: T-Squared Software
Platform: Mac
Price: $49 (Trial Available)

This post has been filed in Mac Apps, Miscellany and Reviews