CowLog - code behaviors from digital video


CowLog is a software for recording behaviors from digital video developed in the Research Center for Animal Welfare and Department of Agricultural Sciences in the University of Helsinki. It is currently maintained and developed in the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and as my personal free time project.

We created CowLog, because we wanted a free easy to use program for coding digital video. CowLog is open source software and it is therefore free to use and modify.

CowLog is lightweight software, which tracks the time code from video files, and records the time with the coded behavior to a data file. The program reads common digital video formats and works in all major operating systems: Linux, Windows and Mac OS X.

Post your questions and comments about CowLog to the cowlog-users google group or privately to matti(a) I'd prefer people using the group unless there is good reason not to.

The latest release of CowLog is a Desktop application with the following features:

  • Code unlimited number behaviors from one or more videos
  • Configure the coding for your ethogram using projects
  • Supports modifiers for behaviors
  • Use keybindings for coding
  • Comes with VLC player bundled on Windows and Mac OS X using WebChimera.js
  • Save coding session results in plain text format
  • Developed in Javascript and HTML5 using the Electron framework

CowLog 2 is not developed anymore, but it remains available for download and the web versions will stay available.

If you use the software for your publications, please cite the relevant paper:

CowLog 3:

Pastell, Matti. 2016. CowLog – Cross-Platform Application for Coding Behaviours from Video. Journal of Open Research Software. 4(1), p.e15. DOI:

Earlier versions:

Hänninen, L. & Pastell, M. 2009. CowLog: Open source software for coding behaviors from digital video. Behavior Research Methods. 41(2), 472-476. [pdf]

CowLog icon has been kindly contributed by Andy Robins from CAWE. The logo is based on Semitic letter "Aleph", which according to Wikipedia is derived from the West Semitic word for "ox", and the shape of the letter derives from a Proto-Sinaitic glyph that may have been based on a Egyptian hieroglyph which depicts an ox's head.

© Matti Pastell 2009-2016.