GPS Geotagging and Maps

Some recent video cameras are equipped with built-in GPS units that allow them to store the geographical location where each video clip was recorded.

 

Some cameras store a single static geographical location for each recorded clip, so each file "knows" where on earth it was recorded. This is referred to as Geotagging. Usually the single static location is the position of the camera at the beginning of the recording.

 

More usefully, some cameras store the current location at regular intervals as it records, so the recorded file contains not just the video but also an account of the route taken by the camera. So for example if you are shooting from a moving vehicle then the recorded file will contain the route that the vehicle took while recording was in progress.

 

All of this Geotagging information is stored in the video file as metadata.

 

For supported files, DVMP Pro is able to display the changing GPS location while playing the video file. It can also export or burn-in this information, so you could effectively overlay your video with the corresponding GPS coordinates.

 

DVMP Pro supports display/burn-in/export of GPS Geotagging information for the following file types:

 

AVCHD MTS/M2TS files
Files from Sony AVCHD cameras that are set to record in standard definition mode (MPEG-2 Program Stream files)
Files from Contour+ range of cameras
iPhone files

 

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IMPORTANT: The camera that produces these files MUST be equipped with a GPS unit which must have been switched on and receiving GPS satellite data while the recording was made; otherwise no Geotagging information will be available.

 

All of the above record the route taken by the camera except iPhone files which just record a single static GPS location.

 

When the information is available in the file, DVMP Pro supports the following GPS metadata items:

 

Latitude
Longitude
Altitude
Speed
Track

 

The last 2 items are the speed and the direction of travel of the camera. Track is the direction that the camera is traveling, not the direction that the lens is pointed.

 

The items of GPS metadata that are stored can vary from camera to camera. Some store all of the above items while others may only store latitude and longitude.

 

Viewing the Geotagging Metadata

 

You can view the Geotagging metadata by playing a file in DVMP Pro (File > Open menu). By default DVMP Pro will only display the camera exposure details, so you must have checked the Tools > Options > General > Display Geotagging data setting. This changes the contents of the metadata pane - instead of showing the camera's exposure settings it shows the Geotagging items (and the current date and time).

 

The format of the Geotagging information can also be changed using the Geotagging options in Tools > Options > General. The latitude and longitude can be displayed as degrees, minutes and seconds or as decimal fractions of a degree. Also altitude and speed can be displayed in metric or imperial units. See the Metadata Display Settings for more details.

 

For files that contain Geotagging metadata, there is also an additional Geotagging page in the File > Properties box. The Geotagging values displayed are those corresponding to the beginning of the file.

 

Viewing a Map

 

pro-browser-mapDVMP Pro provides two ways of displaying a map which shows the camera's location: Browser Map and Display Map. Both require an internet connection to display the Map.

 

Clicking the menu File > Browser Map (or pressing Ctrl-W) will invoke your computer's default web browser to display a static map showing the current location of the camera. A marker in the center of the map shows the position of the camera that corresponds to the current video playback position. Each time you click File > Browser Map a new web browser window will be invoked.

 

DVMP Pro also has the Display Map add-on (currently in Beta) which can display a moving map showing the camera's current GPS location and the complete route that the camera took during the recording of the video file. See below for details.

 

The "Display Map" Add-On (Beta)

 

pro-display-mapThe Display Map add-on (currently in Beta) can display a moving map showing the camera's current GPS location and the complete route that the camera took during the recording of the video file.

 

The map is displayed in a separate Map window. If you open a supported video file and then click File > Display Map (or press CTRL-M) the Map window will appear.

 

An internet connection is required to display the Map. Also, the map images are provided directly from Mapbox servers so you will need to set up your own account at www.mapbox.com. Mapbox may charge you for using your account (see below for details).

 

A red marker will appear at the center of the map showing the current location of the camera. As playback proceeds, the marker will move to show the corresponding location of the camera in real-time. You can also drag the playback slider or step backwards or forwards through the file and the marker position will change to show the corresponding geographic location.

 

Occasionally, the video file may contain periods of missing GPS metadata where satellite lock may have been lost during the recording - when this has happened the marker changes to a circular grey "?" marker. If this missing data occurs at the start of the file (or if a file is opened which contains no GPS metadata) then only the message "No GPS Data available" is displayed - the map will only appear when valid GPS metadata is encountered during playback.

 

If the video file only contains a single static GPS location (corresponding to the start of the recording), then a yellow "S" marker is displayed which does not move.

 

Two map views are available:

 

Follow and
Track Overiew

 

Follow view is the default. Here the marker is always in the center of the map area, and the map automatically scrolls beneath it as the camera moves.

 

Track Overview displays the map so that the complete track (i.e. route) of the camera is visible in blue. The map remains stationary so that the whole track is always visible. As the file plays, the marker moves along the track.

 

When you switch to Track Overview, the track is automatically read from a GPX file which is located in the same folder as the video file and has the same file name but with a .GPX extension. The track is then drawn as a thick blue line across the map.

 

If the GPX file does not exist then no track will be displayed. In that case you should click the Get Track button. The video file is then scanned and the GPX file created - the track will then be displayed on the map.

 

You can switch between the two views by clicking the Follow or Track Overview radio buttons at the bottom of the Map window.

 

If you wish, you can pan the map in any direction by clicking and dragging the map. You can also zoom in or out using the + and - zoom controls near the top-left of the map. This can help you to look at the surrounding area or see the location in a bigger context. If you have panned or zoomed the map you can easily reset the map to its normal position by clicking the Reset button.

 

You can also print the map by clicking the Print button.

 

Two map styles are available, a normal vector map and an aerial photographic map. You can switch between these by clicking the popout map control near the top-right. Aerial imagery may not be available for some areas of the world.

 

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INFORMATION: The "Display Map" feature is not part of the core DVMP Pro product. Display Map is currently in Beta and is therefore provided as an add-on which at present is free of charge. Being a beta add-on it is subject to change or removal at any time. Please be aware that an account with Mapbox is required to display the map images, and Mapbox may charge you directly if you exceed their quota of free map views.

 

The map detail and imagery is provided by Mapbox directly from their servers. Before you can view any maps, you must set up your own account with Mapbox at their web site www.mapbox.com (if you haven't already done so). Mapbox is a popular commercial provider of mapping imagery and charges you fees depending on which of their tiered plans you choose and the number of "map views" you make per month. Their Starter Plan is free of charge for the first 50,000 map views each month, and then 0.50 USD per 1,000 additional "map views" - this is correct at the time of writing, but of course their pricing structure may change in the future so be sure to check their web site for up-to-date pricing.

 

When you sign up for your Mapbox account they provide you with an "Access Token" which is a line of text that uniquely identifies your account. You then paste your Access Token text into DVMP Pro's settings, and DVMP Pro will  use it to request and display the Mapbox map images in the Display Map window.

 

The map that fills the whole Display Map window is actually comprised of a set of map "tiles", each 512x512 pixels in size, so it may take several tiles to fill the Display Map window. Each map tile requested by DVMP Pro (or any other mapping software that you use your Access Token with) adds to your Mapbox account's monthly "map views" count (1 map view = 1 map tile), and hence affects the transaction fees that you may be charged if you exceed your free quota. If the Display Map window is panned or zoomed, that will also result in more map tiles being requested, so be aware that the map view count may increase faster than you might expect! You can view the current level of usage in your Mapbox account.

 

Please note that we do not have any connection with Mapbox. By entering your Mapbox Access Token into the settings of DVMP Pro (or any other mapping software that you might use) you are granting it permission to use some of the "map views" quota of your own Mapbox account. But DVMP Pro does not know anything about your actual Mapbox account, so it can not tell which Mapbox plan you have, the pricing structure, nor whether you have exceeded your free quota. So it is entirely your own responsibility to administer your Mapbox account, and check on the level of map usage on a regular basis. If you wish to avoid exceeding your free quota then you must check on the usage levels yourself in your Mapbox account.

 

It is not possible to avoid Mapbox charges if you exceed your free quota (even inadvertently), so if you are uncomfortable with being charged a fee you should not create a Mapbox account. Of course that will mean you can not use the Display Map add-on.

 

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IMPORTANT: We are not responsible for any fees which you may be charged by Mapbox for map images that are displayed in DVMP Pro. When you sign up for a Mapbox account, the contract is between Mapbox and yourself and you alone are responsible for complying with their terms and conditions and the payment of any fees to them. Before you decide whether to set up a Mapbox account, be sure to check their Terms and Conditions on their web site, and details of what fees you are charged if you exceed your free quota.

 

 

Mapbox usage example

Mapbox usage example

If you are happy to create your Mapbox account, go to www.mapbox.com/pricing and under Starter Plan click Sign up. You will be asked for a new user name, your email address and a password for your new account. The Starter Plan provides up to 50,000 free "map views" per month. On the right of your account's Home page you will see the default Access Token for your account - click the copy button next to the Access Token which copies it to the Windows clipboard. Then in DVMP Pro, go to the menu Tools > Options > Add-ons > Display Map and click the Set Mapbox Access Token button; click the Paste button and then OK which tells DVMP Pro to store your Access Token for use by the Display Map add-on. Please see Options - Display Map for more details of how to enter your Access Token into DVMP Pro.

 

In your Mapbox account, click Manage Account and you can view the current number of Map Views used up this month - beware that the total displayed is not in real-time so it may be delayed by several hours. You should check this on a regular basis. Here you can also upgrade to a paid-for account with a larger map quota, or completely delete your account if you no longer wish to use it.

 

All of the above information about Mapbox is correct at the time of writing. For up-to-date details and conditions, please see the Mapbox web site.

 

Burning-in GPS Information

 

You can use the Burn-in Metadata tool to permanently "stamp" latitude, longitude or any of the GPS metadata items onto your video frames. There are a set checkboxes for each GPS metadata item on the Tools > Burn-in options page - you just have to check the items that you require and use the Burn-in Metadata tool as usual to stamp these items onto the video.