the frequently-asked question from new P2 users is: “what’s
with these filenames? Why are they just random, and isn’t
there some way that I can have sequential filenames for each clip?”
Before reading further, check out this display
from P2 Viewer. Wouldn’t you like all your clips to look like
this, fresh from the camera?
As with most systems, a little understanding
of how the system works can make for a more enjoyable experience
working with the system. And, by taking advantage of a little-known
feature in the P2 cameras, you can actually make the whole filename
process work out so much easier and better than ever before!
Before we start, let’s first examine how
the P2 system names the files that it creates on the card. Here’s
a screenshot of a sample P2 directory, from P2 Viewer:
When you look at those filenames, they sure do
look random, don’t they? The thing is: they’re not.
At least, not entirely. The last two characters in the filename
are random, yes, but the first four characters are actually a sequential
number. Let’s look at those filenames in a slightly different
way: I’ll highlight the first four digits, and you’ll
see that actually each clip has been sequentially numbered, starting
Once you separate the first four digits from the
last two, it becomes a lot easier to see the pattern. Each clip’s
name consists of four numerically increasing digits (i.e., a unique
“number”), and then each clip has two “random”
digits or letters assigned at the end. Sometimes those “random”
digits are numbers, and that’s what can make the filename
system seem so confusing (for example, look at clips 0001, 0002,
0003, and 0006: in their “random” digits, they all have
a number, so it looks like clip 1 could be read as clip “19”,
clip 2 could be read as clip “23”, etc, and that can
cause confusion.) If you want to properly interpret the clip name
you need to keep a sharp eye to distinguish between the first four
characters in the name (which will always be numbers) and the last
two “random” characters (which could be letters, but
could also be numbers).
Once you learn to distinguish between the first
four numbers and the last two characters, the naming system begins
to make a lot more sense; each time you create a new clip, the filename
is made of the next available number and a couple of random characters
to try to ensure that the filename is unique. It’s not absolutely
guaranteed that the filename will be unique, but considering that
the last two characters have a potential pool of 36 individual characters
to draw upon (the 26 letters and 10 digits), that gives 36x36 unique
combinations, or about 1296 different possibilities. The odds of
ending up with the same first four characters are already low (since
they’re numerically ascending on each card), but even if you
did end up with the same first four characters, the randomly-assigned
last two characters means the odds against the system creating an
absolutely identical filename are about 1 in 1,296. So while it’s
not guaranteed, the possibility of having identical filenames on
different cards is quite remote.
Let’s call the first four digits of the filename
the “File Number” since those digits always represent
a numerical value. How is the File Number determined? Usually by
the LASTCLIP.TXT file. If your card has a LASTCLIP.TXT file on it,
then the File Number for the next clip is set by reading that LASTCLIP.TXT
If we examine the LASTCLIP.TXT file on the P2 card
shown above (the Karate footage), using Microsoft’s WordPad
text editor, we find that the LASTCLIP.TXT file has three lines
This is fairly easy to decipher: the “0011D0”
is the name of the last clip on that card (which is where the “LASTCLIP.TXT”
file gets its name from; it contains the name of the last recorded
clip!) The second line, “1.0” is: well, I don’t
know what it is, it’s some manner of version number, but on
every single card I’ve examined it always says “1.0”,
so for the time being let’s ignore it. And the third line,
which says “12”, is the number of the next file that
will be created on this card. If I record a new clip onto this card,
I know that the first four digits of the file name (the File Number)
are going to be “0012”.
One last thing about the file names: the MXF “Op-Atom”
file system splits recordings into their component parts (or “atoms”);
audio is stored separately from video, which is stored separately
from the icon, etc. All the different types of clips share the same
root file name (meaning, for a clip with a base name of “0001XQ”,
the video file will be “0001XQ.mxf” and the icon will
be “0001XQ.bmp”), but the audio files get two additional
digits at the end of their filename to signify which audio channel
they represent. So for two channels of audio, the audio files will
use the same base name but the left channel gets assigned a “00”
and the right channel becomes “01”; for four channels
of audio the next two channels get “02” and “03”
on their file name; that means that the fourth audio channel of
our above-named example would actually be “0001XQ03.mxf”
– the same base name, but with the addition of “00”
through “03” to identify the individual audio channels.
Which is all fine and dandy, but I can hear you
out there – “Isn’t this overly complex? Can’t
I just get filenames that MEAN SOMETHING to me? And can’t
I just have automatically-incrementing file numbers the way I want
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to assign
a clip name of, say, “Scene 1, Take: ” and then have
the system automatically assign a “1” or “2”
or “3” for every take you shoot? Can you do that?
Yes you can.
USER CLIP NAME
The key to controlling your filename destiny is to use the P2 metadata
and take advantage of the User Clip Name field. This field is used
by certain popular nonlinear editors (such as Avid and EDIUS); when
you take advantage of the User Clip Name you actually control the
name to the file that will be seen by your editor. This capability
has always existed in European and PAL HVX200s, but was not initially
available in the US version; any HVX200 with upgraded firmware now
has the option to use the full capability of the User Clip Name.
If you want to take advantage of this feature but your HVX is still
running version 1.03 of the firmware, you’ll want to go to
the Panasonic website at https://eww.pavc.panasonic.co.jp/pro-av/support/cs/csregistp2m/ep2main/
to get the latest firmware update.
So what’s new in the firmware update for
clip naming? Mainly the implementation of the USER CLIP NAME field.
There’s always been a User Clip Name field, but in the original
HVX it was always assigned to be the same value as the Global Clip
ID – which means it was always some huge incomprehensible
64-character random name such as “060A2B340101010501010D43130000007C1E8E9B013805D60080458210AC921D”
(and yes, that’s an actual User Clip Name from one of my clips!)
Clearly this is of little to no value for an end user who’s
trying to organize his/her clips to conform to a human-readable
filename. You’ve always had the ability to go into P2 Viewer
or P2 Log and change that user clip name to a human-readable value,
but I don’t know how many of us have bothered to do that for
every clip we’ve shot.
Fortunately, the newer firmware makes User Clip
Name so much more useful. With the new firmware, you can use P2
Viewer or P2 Log to assign a “base name” to your clips,
and then the camera will attach a number value to that clip, and
it’ll increment that number for every time it records a clip.
What this means is, you can assign a base name like “Scene
5 Take ”, and it’ll add “0001”, “0002”,
“0003” to the first three clips you make. I mean, this
is what we’ve always had:
Wouldn’t you rather see this?
A little more useful? Easier to organize? It’s
available to you now, if you take advantage of the User Clip Name
field of the metadata.
How To Use The User Clip Name Field
Some software is MXF-aware and understands and
uses the User Clip Name field. Examples include Avid XPress Pro
HD, Grass Valley EDIUS Broadcast, and Panasonic’s own P2 Viewer
program. (as an aside to the reader: if you know of other programs
that use it, please let us know and we’ll update this article).
Like I said before, the first thing you need to
do is make sure that your camera is running the proper firmware
so that it can take advantage of the Type 2 metadata. Go into your
P2 thumbnail screen and look for the Meta Data -> User Clip Name
menu option. If yours looks like this, then you’re good to
(if you don’t have this option, update your
Assuming you have this option, be sure to select
Type 2. If you use Type 1, the system will plug in that 64-bit Global
Clip ID field into the User Clip Name, which defeats the purpose
of the rest of this article! Make sure you set the User Clip Name
to Type 2.
There are a few other things you need to do. First,
create a metadata file on an SD memory card that has the base User
Clip Name that you want to use. You can create that metadata file
using P2 Viewer; use Tool->Metadata Upload, then click the checkbox
for User Clip Name and enter the base file name that you want to
Then use the File menu and choose “Save to
SD Card” (which of course requires that your computer has
an SD card reader, and that you have an SD card loaded in it!)
You can also do this same basic functionality in
P2 Log. Or, you could always just create a text file from any text
file editor, even the one on your cell phone or PDA; the contents
of the text file would need to look something like this:
Creating and saving the file from P2 Viewer is
probably the simplest way to do it, but certainly not the only way.
It’s easy to create the text file from a text editor, but
a tad tricky to save it on your SD card if you’re not using
P2 Viewer: you have to make sure you use the right type of file
name, and that you save it in the right directory. If you don’t
follow both of these steps the camera won’t be able to find
it on your SD card. The filename for a P2 metadata file has to be
MTDT00.P2 or MTDT01.P2, etc., you can assign any 2-digit number
to the last two digits, but the base file name has to be MTDTxx.P2.
And this is the directory you have to save it to (assuming that
your SD card was loaded in a card reader identified as drive J:)
Once you have a P2 metadata file on an SD card,
plug that SD card into your HVX200 and load it, using the following
thumbnail menu options:
(in this example my P2 metadata file was named
MTDT02.P2, so that’s the file I’ve got set to load).
There’s one more step you have to take before
you’re ready to start using the new base filename for your
User Clip Name: you have to tell the system to attach your loaded
metadata to the clips. Do that by choosing Meta Data->Record->On.
Once you’ve loaded the metadata you can double-check
to see it’s there by going into the Meta Data->Property
menu and looking at the values, like this:
On that screen it shows you the loaded User Clip
Name (in this example it’s “Scene 1 Take”) and
it shows you the value of the automatically-incrementing counter
(in this shot, it’s already at “0004”). Finally,
it shows you the actual data that will be recorded (the “REC
DATA”, which shows “Scene 1 Take 0004”). And there’s
a menu option to reset the counter back to 1.
When you’ve assigned this data, now all clips
will automatically have your User Clip Name (along with the counter
value) attached to your clips. If you want to start the count back
over at 1, you have to come into the Meta Data->Property screen
and choose the User Clip Name field, then choose “Count Reset”.
The only inconvenience in the system is: how do you change the User
Clip Name base name? You’d have to edit that text on the SD
card to change it, and then re-load the data using Meta Data->Load.
If you’re diligent and make sure to take those steps, you’ll
have the power of the new User Clip Name feature at your disposal!
Now, for clarification: the User Clip Name does
not change the name of the files that get recorded. It’s still
going to record the actual file name as something like “0001QD.mxf”.
But in the clip’s metadata it will also record this new “Scene
1 Take 0004” custom user clip name. So when managing your
file data you’d have to use a program (such as P2 Log, P2
Viewer, or Avid or EDIUS) that knows how to interpret the User Clip
In P2 Viewer it’s simple; go to the “Tool->Customize”
menu and choose the Icon View tab, and select “User Clip Name”:
In EDIUS, when you import the files using the P2
Select tool, it defaults to use the User Clip Name (although you
can override that to use the ClipName or your own custom prefix
Notice how EDIUS displays the ClipName field (the
icon and clip name such as 0025J2) and then it also has the UserClipName
field. And in the options in the bottom center of the screen we’ve
selected UserClipName as how the clips should import to the bin.
With this setting all the files in the bin will show up with the
custom name we’ve assigned (i.e., “Scene 1 Take 0003”)
instead of the actual file name (such as “0027GC”).
It’s just as easy to do it in Avid as well;
Avid has an option to display the User Clip Name instead of the
Clip Name in its bin.
In summary, P2 naming is a lot easier to understand
than it may first appear (it’s really just four characters
that form a number, and then two random digits). But judicious and
persistent maintenance of the User Clip Name can make working with
P2 files in post so much more intuitive and easy to read, see, and
understand. There’s a little bit of burden placed on you (to
keep the UserClipName loaded and fresh and current) but if you do
so, the benefits are obvious to be seen.