Cataloging Your Video

Types of Metadata

You can include as many data fields or elements as you want in your catalog, but there are a few types of information that are most important to make your videos identifiable and findable:

Source metadata

The date recorded, the geographic location of recording, the identity of the creator(s).

Date Recorded 2013-03-23
Location 38.897096,-77.036545
Creator Cortez, Ricky

Example of some source metadata.

Chain of custody

Who you acquired the video from and when, who had custody of the video prior and when, any changes made to the video file and when it happened, fixity checks (i.e. hashes).

Date Acquired 2013-03-29
Acquired From Cortez, Ricky
Date of Fixity Check 2013-03-29
MD5 Hash Value 050c4e80050fe93033edcdf58f57e3aa

Example of some chain of custody metadata.

Descriptive information

What is happening in the video, who is depicted in the video, background information about the event, and why the video was recorded.

Summary Bukeni Waruzi interviews an Akhdam woman from Sana’a who has suffered violence due to her ethnicity. Video was recorded in Washington DC as part of project to document ethnic discrimination in Yemen.

Example of some descriptive metadata.

Security restrictions

What information in the video needs to be restricted and from whom.

Restriction Status Restricted
Restriction Detail Interviewee does not want her full name used. Face and voice do not need to be obscured.

Example of some security restriction metadata.


Who owns the video, who is allowed to use the video and how.

Rights Owner WITNESS
Rights Declaration Available for public use under Creative Commons-Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license.

Example of some rights metadata.

Content type

Whether the video is raw or edited, and the specific types of content in the video (e.g. interview, news report, livestream, etc.)

Content Type Raw video

Example of some content type metadata.

Keywords, tags, and subject terms

Access points with any terms that help make the video findable.

Topics Discrimination
Group Names Akhdam
Geographic Locations Sana’a
Washington DC
United States of America

Example of some subject term metadata.

Technical metadata

Technical data about the video file from the file itself.

Generation Camera Original
Format MPEG-4
Video Encoding AVC
File Size 71 MB
Duration 00:08:13

Example of some technical metadata.

Video as Evidence TIP

Accurate and truthful cataloging will support the use of your video as evidence. Always be clear about disputed or unverified information, and do not editorialize.

  • Cataloging is labor-intensive, and requires training and quality control.
  • Before cataloging, start by making an inventory of your collection.
  • Assess whether you need a catalog, and whether you have the resources to build one.
  • Start cataloging new videos first. Set up a process for cataloging the backlog later.
  • Source metadata, chain of custody, descriptive information, and security restrictions are among the most important metadata to catalog for human rights evidentiary video.
  • Define your metadata structure and rules, and document them in a cataloging manual or data dictionary.
  • Using metadata standards can make your work easier and your catalog more interoperable.
  • You can use a spreadsheet to make a simple catalog, or a database for a more complex catalog.
Key Concept: Interoperability

Using metadata standards ensures that your metadata can be more easily used and understood by others.
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Key Concept: Data Model

A data model defines how metadata is structured and organized in a catalog.
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Key Concept: Controlled Vocabulary

Catalogs use controlled vocabularies to ensure consistency and findability.
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Key Concept: Metadata

Metadata is the basis of cataloging.
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Key Concept: Metadata Standard

Cataloging relies on standardized structures and rules for creating metadata.
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Key Concept: Findability

The primary purpose of cataloging is to enable and improve findability.
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The Archiving Workflow

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