Metadata have a lot to say!October 21, 2023
While videos have become omnipresent in our daily lives, we usually look beyond the surface only when they don’t run as they should. So let us give you a short insight into metadata which can become both your best friend and your worst enemy as a video content creator.
Meet metadata – learn more about your videos!
Metadata in video files provides valuable information about the video’s content, technical aspects, and other relevant details. There are some common metadata elements which belong to every video file. Allover, one can roughly divide this big bunch into four main purposes according to what they do for video creators and viewers.
1. Metadata covering copyright and data security issues
Copyright infringement is a major problem This especially counts for creators who pay their bills with video content or otherwise invest a lot of effort into planning, recording, editing and finalizing their movie files. While correct metadata cannot completely prevent other creators from “stealing“ your content, they can at least make your videos less attractive for people ignoring copyright. Here are the relevant “copyright markers“ and data-tracking helpers.
Date Created/Date Modified
This metadata element records your files’ individual “history“ of creation and modification. Thus, it also has a functional aspect for editors as they can review, track and update a video’s versioning status.
Author/Creator and copyright information
Metadata always display the person or entity responsible for creating the video. Furthermore, this metadata section points out details about the video’s copyright, including the copyright holder and licensing terms.
2. Basic metadata elements for the creator’s and viewer’s information
Thumbnail image and title
Thumbnail images and video titles are always the first things you see when you open a file – either on YouTube or in your media player. So, for sure, they also appear in the metadata section. The thumbnail image then represents the visual video content and serves as a preview. In addition, the title usually provides a brief content description. By the way: You can easily use both of these metadata elements for SEO purposes and marketing, too!
We all want to know how long it takes to watch a video – because we need to fit it into our schedules. And naturally it is also important for creators to adapt the duration to a certain purpose and target audience. So metadata also display the length of your video in hours, minutes, and seconds.
A typical “FAQ“ when it comes to video content: What is this movie about? The answer lies in your metadata as they include the category or genre to which the video belongs (e.g., action, drama, documentary). By the way: With optimized metadata, this can also be an orientation tool for the people watching your content.
3. Functional metadata
Knowing the settings in which a video was created makes further editing and adjustments a lot easier. It is always good to know some basic technical facts because certain factors also have an impact on editing success and on the viewer’s user experience. Meet some metadata elements which determine the output quality of your movie files!
This element displays the video’s dimensions, typically in pixels (e.g., 1920×1080 for Full HD). Knowing and wisely choosing a video’s resolution helps to adapt your files to different channels, devices (e.g. mobile phones and tablets) and target groups.
Bitrate and frame rate
In short, a video’s bitrate stands for the amount of data processed per unit of time. Thus, the bitrate reliably indicates your file’s quality and size. Talking about the frame rate, there is a similar effect. Generally, the frame rate defines the number of frames displayed per second (e.g., 24fps, 30fps, 60fps). Depending on the device someone watches your videos on, these simple aspects can become crucial, e.g. when it comes to an excessive loading time on YouTube or to a sync issues in different media players.
This part describes the ratio of the video’s width to its height (e.g., 16:9, 4:3). Although this detail seems quite mundane, it can become important if your target group has technical viewing preferences. For example, you should respect certain standard aspect ratio if you are creating videos for the “big screen“ or for Instagram content often consumed on a smartphone. There are only a few cases in which “exotic“ aspect ratios have a positive effect on the viewing experience.
Codecs, as we already pointed out before, pull the strings in every video file. In a nutshell, they determine the degree of video data compression. Thus, codec settings either make your video run smoothly at a good quality or cause compatibility issues. Remember: Your ideal codec settings also depend on what viewing device, video editor and media player you use.
Subtitles, closed captions and audio tracks
Language and text elements play an important part in the game, too, because they help viewers to understand the content better. Usually, you also find subtitles and closed caption tracks as separate items in the metadata information. Just like audio tracks, which also include user-relevant information (e.g. languages) and quality markers meaning audio formats (e.g., stereo, 5.1 surround).
4. Metadata related to categorization and SEO purposes
Description and tags/keywords
This metadata package displays a textual description of the video’s content. In many cases, it also includes keywords (also: tags). In general, keywords help editors and creators to organize their video files. In a SEO context, however, keywords and description texts serve a more specific purpose. It is normal for content marketers to optimize these small text elements, e.g. on YouTube, in order to attract their target audience.
Language and location
Localization is an important aspect of SEO marketing. First of all, marketers must speak a language that their target audience understand. Getting an instant insight into the languages used in a video (primary language, (translated) text elements and subtitles) are very helpful then. Second, some potential customers might also relate to the location where the video content was recorded. Needless to say: Video marketers should also always have “cultural localization“ on their minds, thus knowing what people consider appropriate in different cultures. Also for the latter aspect, knowing the geographical and cultural “background“ of a movie helps viewers to understand the message sent by creators.
When metadata get all messed up
Like with every sort of data, metadata can also be concerned by technical issues. There are definitely some common difficulties with video metadata. However, for the good news now, modern IT also offers valuable solutions. Let’s check on some examples of metadata in trouble, then.
Important information got lost or is not correct.
Sometimes, metadata may be incomplete, inaccurate, or missing altogether. To address this issue, users can manually edit and correct the metadata using video editing software or specialized metadata editors.
Data formats differ to a great extent and therefore don’t match.
Inconsistent and “messy” video file structures may use different metadata formats or standards. Using a standard format like ID3 (commonly used for audio) or XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform) for video can help maintain consistency.
A video’s metadata are damaged.
Just like all data, also metadata can become corrupted, which makes it unreadable or inaccurate. In consequence, regularly backing up video files and their associated metadata can help recover lost information in case of corruption.
There is no full support available.
Some video players or platforms may not fully support all metadata elements. In order to prevent performance issues, it’s essential to test the compatibility of video files with different players and platforms to ensure the real “error status”.
Manual editing becomes a time killer.
When dealing with a large collection of videos, it can be time-consuming to edit metadata manually. It still needs to be done, right? Here’s the good news: You can use metadata editing software or scripts in order to automate the process for multiple files simultaneously (also: bulk editing).
Too many details bring along privacy concerns.
Sharing too much metadata, such as location information, can raise privacy concerns. Let us give you one example: You are a family vlogger (“momfluencer/dadfluencer“) on YouTube, Instagram or TikTok. Although you love creating and discussing your content, you do not want everyone to know where and how you live. Especially with children, privacy is key. So in addition to check your content wisely for integrity and appropriateness, you should to take care to remove or limit sensitive metadata before sharing or uploading videos.
Metadata get lost during editing and updating processes.
As we often edit and update our video files, it’s important to maintain consistent metadata across versions. On a technical level, version control systems or metadata versioning practices make it easier to follow up with your current status.
Organizing metadata – promoting success!
A short conclusion at the end: Every video file we record, edit, publish and share comes with a considerable amount of metadata. While this sort of data is usually “hidden“ behind your visual content, it still plays a crucial role to regularly check on it. Especially when it is metadata corruption keeping your videos from playing well, you should consider investing more effort into this aspect of data management.
In general, keeping your video metadata intact and complete helps you out at various levels. First, for creators, working with keywords and tags simplifies the search for your “heart topics“ and thus expands your circle of potential viewers and customers. Saving and updating your current video and metadata versions also can prevent data loss and data damage. Also keep in mind that, especially in the era of AI rising up, privacy issues are becoming increasingly important One side note at the end: Video repair software like VRT is often capable to fix damaged gfiles with a few clicks. In some cases, you might have to rely on specialized meta data management apps.