Basehead Metadata: Interview with Steve Tushar
Get work done faster. That’s the main benefit of the BaseHead metadata software. We had a chat with co-founder Steve Tushar on horrid search engines for PCs, how metadata is used on the platform and how UCS works with BaseHead. Among other things.
Steve, you are a Grammy nominated music producer, has worked as a sound designer at several large studios and you are also the owner of BaseHead – a sound effects search engine and SFX streaming platform. Tell us a bit about your background.
I think you just covered it man…haha. I have a background as a music producer/remixer in Los Angeles and as a touring musician. I also used to do electronica/breakbeat remixes and production for bands like Korn, Puddle of Mudd, Megadeth and Fear Factory. I never planned on going into the post production world as I felt that is where musicians go to die. But my buddy Paul Ottosson, from your homeland actually, liked my music/remixes work and my Kurzweil K2000 sound mutilating skills at the time and he was the one that convinced me to make the jump to film. That was 1999 I believe.
And BaseHead, how did you come up with the idea?
I was working at Paramount and Disney Pictures on Pro Tools Mac when Steinberg released Nuendo for PC. I wanted to make the jump to this as I used Cubase for music production, and it was just thought out better and made more sense to my brain. The PC offerings for SFX searching at the time were so horrid, kept corrupting my database and pissed me off so badly that I started to learn C++ to make my own since it was the only way I was going to be able to switch to Nuendo. I met a guy online from the U.K. named Jeremy Taylor who worked in games, and he was also looking to do the same. We met up in Manchester when I was playing a show with Fear Factory doing keyboards. We got along great, decided to give it a go, shook hands and BaseHead was born! BaseHead was free for many years and it took off in the game world first as that was a PC dominant market then and also because Jeremy knew lots of cats in the game world needing this type of tool really badly.
Of course since that time, we’ve made a version for macOS also which now outsells the PC version by far as more and more of the macOS dominated Post-Production world has been switching over to a better way of working also.
As a sound designer, what are the main benefits of using BaseHead?
Increased workflow and just plain getting things done faster and at the same time more enjoyable. We created BaseHead initially because we desperately needed it, but then the focus moved more towards working faster and smarter to have the ability to leave the film lot two hours earlier or show up later to work the next day because of a long party the night before and still get the job done on time…lol!
How is metadata used in BaseHead?
We read and write many metadata chunks and the iXML chunk is priority. For all the extended [fields] that SFX guys also care about that don’t exist in the iXML spec like [location], [designer], I decided not to reinvent the wheel and instead use the same iXML <tags> as Steinberg’s Mediabay. BaseHead and Mediabay were the first two professional SFX metadata programs that could actually read/write each other [fields]. Here is an Extended iXML Compatibility Whitepaper I made up for other companies to follow to save them headaches and thinking when parsing this same data. It is also an attempt to standardize this.
There are three versions of BaseHead. What’s the difference between them?
Each version was designed with these targets in mind basically…
Ultra – Sound Designers
Standard – SFX, Dialog, and Foley Editors
Lite – Video Editors, Musicians, Music Editor and Re-Recording mixers.
Last month we spoke to Tim Nielsen about The Universal Category System (UCS). Is BaseHead compatible with UCS?
We just added UCS Importing and a dedicated UCS Category Tab on the PeekTree for Searching and Browsing UCS Categories in version 2021.3. I love standards but this really needed to be done 20 years ago to be truly effective. I fear it will give users a false sense of security that all or most of their files conform to this and users should NOT search/filter and browse via any category system till last resort otherwise they will constantly miss finding a ton of great files in their libraries. It should be a secondary and not a primary way a user should be searching for SFX. Put it this way… In my 20+ career as a Hollywood Sound Designer, I may have been searched/browsed via [category] a whole 35 times Evah! Haha!
Regardless of how I feel personally on the subject…Users will be happy to know that we plan to add full UCS support as I always add features by user requests as much as I possibly can and this was hands down the most requested over the last year. The included UCS template can also be duplicated and modified easily by anyone. This way all users can take advantage of these newly added and coming category features regardless of what side of the UCS fence they sit on and can make it work with an in house naming system they might have created years ago.
Next up we will add quick UCS Cat/Subcat tagging via the Details Panel, UCS options in the Batch Renamer Panel and also multi-language support to round out the full UCS feature set.
A while back you launched The CloudPack Manager/MarketPlace on your site. What is it and how come you launched it?
CloudPacks gives BaseHead users the ability to browse SFX packs including each and every file and view its metadata before purchase. Once they find one they like and click ‘Buy’ they can use them immediately! No more the brutal process of downloading 8 separate large zip files, extract them one by one, copy them to your library drive and import them into Basehead just to use them and 20 minutes wasted. With CloudPacks, within 2 clicks you are using the files you just purchased and dropping them into your DAW. The original concept of CPM I showed at least 5 years ago at the Game Developers Conference. It kept getting pushed back, but to be honest the average internet speeds were not ready to do a feature like this comfortably till recently anyway. In version 2021.3 you now have the ability to search the CPM Master Database and quickly compare your local results to what is available in the CPM Marketplace and audition them directly in the Results List. In a few months single sound previewing/purchasing will be also available via the BaseHead Results List.
What will be the next step for BaseHead?
Total and Complete World Domination of course! MMMMmmwwwuuuuhahahaha! 🙂
Check out how easy it is to find and access new libraries using CloudPacks! Nice sounding Hellcat, huh?