CatDV is a highly flexible tool that will support you in whichever workflow you choose to adopt. Here are just a few hints and tips on how you might use it.
If you deal with many different projects we would suggest using a separate catalog in CatDV to represent each "project". You can import all the media files, including intermediate files, that relate to the project into one catalog. When you come to archive a project, create low res previews of any source media that you can safely delete because you can recapture it from tape, but move intermediate files (such as rendered After Effects sequences that you can't easily recreate), as well as your Final Cut and other project files, to an archive location (or even burn them to DVD).
The CatDV catalog will then include a record of all the files and where they are (whether on removable storage or a file server). Export your Final Cut project as XML and import that file into CatDV too and then your CatDV catalog will include all the individual logged fields with all your log notes and timecode down to the clip level, fully searchable. Keep the low res proxies on line permanently, then you can play clips from the catalog even once you've finished work on the project and archived or deleted your full quality media.
If you deal with physical tapes you can use the various fields of the Tape Details record to store information about tape movements, internal and external tape identifiers, and so on.
Do you still log the old way, using VHS dubs with burnt-in timecode and pencil and paper, or shuttling your precious master tape back and forth trying to find and mark one or two In and Out points? Do you ever find yourself going back to a tape you or someone else have partially captured before and repeating the process, wishing the tape had been logged properly the first time around?
However you look at it, multiple passes over the same physical tape and waiting for a tape transport mechanism to spool or rewind the tape is slow and inefficient, and it's easy to jump over and miss a crucial shot. Instead, it's usually much simpler just to digitize a whole tape (whether in your NLE, the software that comes with your capture card, or with Live Capture Plus in the case of DV material) and then log from disk using CatDV's scene detection and Verbatim Logger features.
Logging works equally well from full editing quality media or the low resolution proxies that CatDV will create for you - the important thing is you only need to log once.
Enforcing best practice
If you have problems getting editors to organise the files in a project according to your preferred best practice then use the CatDV worker node to define a project template. Define actions that process different types of file in the appropriate way, for example automatically placing still images in one folder, video in another, and render audio if it's the wrong sample rate. Users just need to drop media files onto the worker icon and they will be placed in the right folder(s) and added to the project catalog.
How CatDV compares to other media cataloging tools
Superficially there are many similar cataloging applications but most of these only deal with one part of the problem, perhaps only recording information about tapes, or about media files.
The CatDV family of products is much richer, quite apart from its client-server architecture and cross-platform support.
CatDV recognises that there are different types of object you want to keep track of. Its datamodel includes catalogs, tapes, clips (individual scenes within a movie or on a tape) and media files, all fully integrated with each other.
CatDV therefore "knows" about all the kinds of objects you're likely to deal with in video content production. It has powerful media analysis tools (reporting technical information, dropped frames, performing scene detection etc.) and support for exchanging clip lists (batch logs and EDLs) with NLE applications. It integrates particularly well with Final Cut Pro because of its XML support, though other NLEs are supported also.
Migration and upgrade path
If you're setting up a new facility in stages you can start off in a single user mode, saving catalog files locally, then migrate to the CatDV server once you're familiar with CatDV and get other edit suites set up, so that all the archived projects become an online, shared, searchable resource.
If you work in a heterogenous environment, with Macs and PCs, Avid and Media100, Final Cut and After Effects, then CatDV will help you migrate data between them.