Meta data again

Metadata – it’s no biggie

Basically, it’s useful because instead of keeping information about file, next to it, you can embed data about the file into the file itself. This will travel with it and persist wherever it is used until someone changes the metadata for themselves.

The de-facto way to do this is using some of Adobe tools that come with their Creative Suite. The downside of these tools is that they cost money and it’s a little harder to batch process things. Batch processing is something you definitely want to be doing where possible because it saves you time and it’s much better to get a computer to do repetitive tasks than doing them yourself.

For these submissions and your work in general, you can go as far with this kind of thing as you like and you’ll have to be careful to decide just how much work you want to put into this. Suffice to say, if you follow along with what’s below, you’ll have all you need to very quickly insert metadata directly into your .wav files and then be able to generate documents about these files in record-time.

The Command Line is where this kind of thing comes into its own and it’s worth your while learning to use it to make these kinds of tasks easier.

To proceed, you’ll need BWFMETAEDIT in both its versions. You need both the CLI (commandline interface) and the GUI (graphical user interface). Get them both here:


What I’m showing here is only tested on OSX, but it’s likely (with a little command prompt nouse) to be completely doable for Windows users too.

What metadata do you need?

BWFmetaedit explains itself pretty well online. The list of data that you can insert is here:

Description of what each field means and what’s supposed to go in there is explained here:


Depending upon the software you used to create your file, different bits of metadata will be inserted into it, see this section.

Metadata for all files you submit

  • BextVersion goes up to version 2 and to ensure all metadata goes in, probably best to set things to version 2, see below.
  • IART artist – that’s you or your band.
  • IARL location of the archive – NOT NECESSARY – but you could set this to be as this is where you’re going to submit your files.
  • ICMS who commissioned the work – NOT NECESSARY – in this case it’s University of Edinburgh, add it if you want to.
  • ICOP set the copy right for the file. You’re going to share these with others in the group so set to something like creative commons so find an attribution that you can live with here Such as CC BY-NC-SA 4.0: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.
  • IGNR likely that the genre here is sound libraries. You can set any genre you feel appropriate, or make one up.
  • IMED not sure about the medium, probably simply sound file, or ignore.
  • IPRD Is the album or product. In your case, it’s Audio Crafting submission 1 or submission 2.
  • ISFT is the software you used. Possibly the same for all files. e.g REAPER v5.97

To insert the above meta data into all sound files on the command line, try running this line:

A command to insert metadata and apply to all sounds in a directory and subdirectory

for f in `find . -type f -name "*.wav"`; do bwfmetaedit --BextVersion=2 --IART="Your Name" --IARL="" --ICMS="University of Edinburgh" --ICOP="CC BY-NC-SA 4.0" --IGNR="Sound Libraries" --IMED="Sound File" --IPRD="Audio Crafting Submission 1" --ISFT="Your software tool chain" --INAM="${f%.*}" "$f"; done

Change some of the details above, such as Your Name and your software tool chain and run the above. Before you do this, cd into the directory where all your sound files are and be sure that there are no spaces in the file names.

The script will recursively (i.e. search through all folders and sub folders) for .wav files and insert the same meta data into all of them.

Metadata that may be desirable to insert into all files in a folder or from a specific setup, session or source sound

  • ICMT here you can add comments about the file recording process. Something like Recorded with Neumann KM184 pair, XY configuration, API preamplifier 3124V set to -12dB
  • IENG list the engineers that worked on your recording. These are the collaborators involved in this particular file or group of files. If it’s the same for all, then this would go below. e.g. Parker, Martin; Buchannan-Dunlop, Roderick; Davies, William.
  • IKEY is keywords, possibly the same for all files, but maybe different folders have different key works, different categories or source sounds decide and set these to individual, group or all files.
  • ISRC source of the file in the first place, not really relevant here, possibly useful for archivists.
  • ISRF source form, possibly a good place to put where this was recorded and what from, e.g. sound recording session in Alison House Basement recording room an old bike was the source.
  • ITCH any technician, possibly same people who were in IENG, possibly different people.

A command to insert metadata into all files in a directory

for f in *.wav; do bwfmetaedit --ICMT="Recorded with Neumann KM184 pair, XY configuration, API preamplifier 3124V set to -12dB" --IENG="Parker, Martin; Buchannan-Dunlop, Roderick; Davies, William" --IKEY="bike sounds; balloon sounds" --ISRF="sound recording session in Alison House Basement recording room an old bike was the source" --ITCH="Parker, Martin" "$f"; done

Obviously, change all of the above to make it fit your needs.

Metadata unique to each file

  • You will get originator, OriginationTime and OriginationDate filled in already if using Logic, Reaper or ProTools. Originator Reference will be completed only by ProTools. Time reference is set as the timecode in samples since Midnight. UMID will be provided by Logic, but nothing else. These fields are useful for certain things, and should be automatically completed by the DAW.
  • The Description field will not be complete, and is something that you will want to fill in to describe your sound very briefly. Maximum of 256 characters.
  • INAM This is the name of the file or in your case, the word you have used.
  • ISBJ This is the subject of the file. Could be the source material or the intention of your interpretation of the word for this sound.
  • ICMT a comment about your files describing what happened what tools you used, and what you were aiming for with this file. This could be for multiple files so consider using it in the above command as shown above in the command to apply to groups of sounds.

A command to insert metadata into a single file

bwfmetaedit --Description="Describe your sound here" --INAM="A specific name for the file if you don't just want to use the file name" --ISBJ="subject of the file, it's purpose" yourFileName.wav

Run the above for individual files or edit the file list in BWFMETAEDT GUI version.