What is a Unique Identifier?
A product barcode is an example of a unique identifier.
A unique identifier is a number or code that can unambiguously distinguish one object from another in a given system, and group things associated with an object together. We frequently encounter unique identifiers in our everyday lives, such as credit card numbers, phone numbers, barcodes, and book ISBNs. A credit card number, for instance, distinguishes your purchases from someone else’s, and allows all of your purchases to be grouped together on one bill.
You can use unique identifiers to organize your videos. Imagine that you have 10 video files acquired from various sources, whose camera-assigned filenames have all been changed. When you review the videos, you find that 9 are unique, and one is a copy. You can create 9 unique identifiers to distinguish the 9 videos from one another. You can also give the one non-unique copy the same unique identifier as its original to associate them together.
Creating Unique Identifiers
To create your own sets of unique identifiers, decide what kind of objects you want to identify, such as projects, individual files, or folders containing groupings of files.
For each kind of object you want to identify, define a template or strategy for assigning identifiers for that kind of object. For instance, you may choose to identify folders using numbers that count sequentially starting with the number “00001,” or you may want to identify projects using a five-letter code that starts with “P-”. The date recorded can be a good basis for unique identifiers for raw footage, since it changes every 24 hours, e.g. “20130623-001.” You can also use identifiers created by other systems (e.g. camera filenames, YouTube IDs).
Keep track of your unique identifiers in a registry recorded using a spreadsheet or database application. You can also use a spreadsheet or database application to automatically generate unique identifiers for you.
Ways to Use Unique Identifiers
You can organize your collection by using unique identifiers in your directory names and filenames. Say, for example, you output a master video file called “00001_MyVideo_Master.mov.” You can name a lower resolution copy made for web upload “00001_MyVideo_LowRes.mov.” Similarly, you can name the shot list “00001_ShotList.xls.” All three of these files can be organized in a folder named “00001_MyVideo”.
If you have an inventory or catalog, you can include the unique identifier as a spreadsheet column or database field so that you can easily retrieve each video in your collection.
If you are sharing videos and documentation with others, you can refer to unique identifiers so that it is clear what you are talking about. You can also send and receive video and documentation separately and put them together later by putting the same unique identifier in their filenames.