These days, we’re used to managing our media on our Macs: We keep track of our music with iTunes and our photos with iPhoto. But what about our videos? Both iTunes and iPhoto can accommodate videos, but neither of them is adept at movie management. Yet the market for digital-video cameras, digital cameras with video-recording capabilities, and ultra-compact camcorders such as those from Kodak and Flip is rapidly growing—many consumers find themselves inundated with short snippets of video of their kids, their pets, and more.
That’s the opening that Riverfold Software’s Clipstart is aiming to exploit. Clipstart does for video what iTunes and iPhoto do for music and photos, respectively. It provides a central library for storing video clips, letting you name and tag them, play them back, trim them, and even upload them to video-sharing sites.
When you open the program for the first time, Clipstart offers to import your existing clips—from your hard drive or directly from your camera—giving you the option to copy them into a central library folder or leave them where they are. Unfortunately, this is an all or nothing proposition: If there are videos in that source you don’t want to import, you have to import everything and then delete the unwanted clips from Clipstart.
Clipstart is a new program, and its young age is reflected in its thus-far spartan viewing options: you can choose from three different views (list, small, and detailed), and sort each view by date, name, or duration. The program automatically organises your clips by year; a pop-up menu in the toolbar lets you restrict the view to clips from a particular year. For any clip, you can edit the name and date, as well as add tags to help identify or group clips.
Clipstart’s search mode lets you type in a string to find matching videos. This features works fine for matching name and tags, but I got strange results when searching for date: a search for 2009 yielded clips from this year but also one from last year; a search for 2007 (a year for which I have five clips) returned no results.
You can play clips within Clipstart in one of three ways: double-click to open a video in the main pane; select a clip and press the space bar to view the video in its thumbnail; or press Command-Y to view the video using Leopard’s Quick Look feature. Yes, it’s confusing that Quick Look doesn’t use the space bar; given that the thumbnail view isn’t very useful, I’d prefer to lose that option and have the space bar activate Quick Look as it does across the OS.
If you want to share a video, Clipstart allows you to upload clips to Flickr or Vimeo; unfortunately, YouTube isn’t currently supported. When uploading, you can specify who can view a video (everybody, family, friends, family and friends, or nobody) and add a description. Tags and titles are pulled directly from the metadata you’ve entered in Clipstart. If you want to trim a clip before uploading, it’s easy to do within Clipstart: you just double-click on the video to reveal a timeline along the bottom of the window; click and drag to select the portion of the clip you want to keep. If you mess up, just click and drag again. The editing is non-destructive, so you never accidentally delete footage.
The first time I tried to upload a video to Flickr, Clipstart wouldn’t accept Flickr’s authorisation, and eventually crashed; after that, it worked perfectly. Vimeo worked fine, as well, although the upload process was slower.
Clipstart’s History window gives you a convenient list of videos you’ve uploaded; clicking on the arrow next to one of them opens the Web page for that video in your browser.
Overall, Clipstart is a program that serves a much-needed purpose, but there are still a few rough edges waiting to be polished.