Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Video File Issues and Visionary 8

"Arggghhh, (insert pirate joke) I get an error message that Visionary 8 cannot find the Video File for my depo.  I know its correct!"

This happens.

Here is some guidance on trouble-shooting this issue and getting resolution.

  • Visionary 8 will automatically find the necessary video files if they are located in one of three places.
    • In the root of any mapped drive.  So, c:\JJones01.mpg or e:\JonesJ01.mpg will both work fine, even if the Visionary case drive is q:\.  (Obviously, q:\JonesJ01.mpg will also work.)  And also, the depos need to reference the correct file name.
    • In a directory named "video" at the root of any mapped drive.  Similar to above, this would be c:\video\JJones01.mpg; etc.
      • Once caveat that took me quite awhile to solve, video is spelled "video".  One support client had mis-spelled it to "vidoe" and kept telling me they were following my instructions exactly.
    • In a directory named "video" within the CaseID directory.  Again, this is similar to the above except there are two more directories in the path.  C:\vs_data\CaseID\video\JonesJ01.mpg would work, etc.  (Replace CaseID with the appropriate entry.)
      • This third option allows you to easily store all the video files for multiple cases on an external (or network shared) drive and keep everything separated.  
Visionary 8 automatically searches all mapped drives for the existence of a directory called "vs_data" at the root of the drive.  If it finds this, it then looks for a directory that matches the specific CaseID.  If that is found, Visionary 8 will include this location whenever it is looking for EITHER video files (\video directory) or image files (\image directory).

This process allows you to store these files on one or two external drives for backup when going to trial.  With the case installed on two laptops, this would allow you to keep going even if one laptop crashes.

Two more issues that can generate this error.

The client not copying the video from the cd/dvd and removing the disk when trying to view the depo.

And finally, the video files being renamed, either by the client; or after the syncing was done, by the production shop.

Occasionally the end user's tech people will choose to rename files to a standard that they choose, thus breaking the synced depo process.

And very occasionally, the production shop will choose to rework the video files for some (probably good) reason.  Maybe they needed to re-render the files or even re-encode them and in the process changed the file names.  Without resetting the file associations, the error can occur.

Any questions?  Let me know at .


Kudos to Carlos for getting me to write this up.

Video File Naming

Sorry, can't think of a snappy opening line for this post, so we'll get right into it.

First, file names, paths and maximum lengths.
     If you look around on the internet for more than one or two responses, you will find that everyone seems to have their own ideas as to file name and path lengths.
     So to start with, use your common sense.  Both file names and paths should be succinct and relevant.
     Unfortunately, the above advice will not always provide error free naming conventions.

Unless you are in a case involving George Foreman and family (six people all named "George Foreman"), you can probably get by with a nice naming convention of FirstInitialLastNameFileNumber or LastNameFirstInitalFileNumber.  Such as JJones01 or JonesJ01.   You can add the date in there if it makes sense.  Or not, since all the video files are for a single person, there is no reason to not just keep incrementing the FileNumber portion for subsequent depos.

Having done this for more than a decade, I have found that in some strange combination of circumstances, there is a lower limit on unique file names.  By that I mean that file names must be unique within "x" characters.  File names such as "JimJonesDepoDated14Aug2013TapeNumber1FileA.mpg" and "JimJonesDepoDated14Aug2013TapeNumber1FileB.mpg" will sometimes confuse the Operating System.  The result is that video playback will appear to reference the wrong file.  Besides, that file name looks bad.

Some off-the-cuff figuring seems to indicate the upper limit to maintain uniqueness is about 14 characters.  Since this situation has only occurred on computers owned by someone else (and they only contacted me for support), I have never been able to get an exact count.

Just another example of the things that we need to keep an eye on.

Have a great day.