Best format for long term storage of HD video

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by sdavis81, Sep 7, 2009.

  1. sdavis81 macrumors newbie

    Jan 13, 2009
    Hi all, got a Canon HG20 about a year ago.
    I have been saving the raw clips on an external drive since then.

    I want to make movies that include clips for say 3 months at a time (maybe an hour long each), that we can watch in future. I don't plan to burn them or send them anywhere. I think I will always use Macs, but suppose the ability to see them on PC would be good to cover bases.

    I don't anticipate watching anytime soon, so want them to be nice to watch in the future, ready to watch without reformatting again. Then I would store them this way, maybe even delete the raw footage.

    I am not too worried about drive space, I have a network external with 2 drives I can send them too, it's expandable.

    Any suggestions?

    I have researched what I can and come down to this:
    Export the movie using Quicktime, set to 1420x720, Best quality setting.

    I do not understand "key frame" setting, or how the audio should be set.

    I don't really know what many of those other file types are. I have read that saving in 1020 is going to make much larger files with not much improvement in quality.

    I am appreciative of any thoughts on my strategy, as you all know, each save takes almost 4 hours!
  2. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    At some point in the future you'll be able to view AVCHD on your Mac natively. I'm sure there's software out there already that enables you to, perhaps just not in as simple a fashion as will come to be. So for now I'd just save each card as a disk image to your hard drive.

    There really isn't much point converting unless you'll be using/viewing it a lot in the near future. And even if you were I'd suggest you keep a disk image as well as a set of converted files, so that when you're able to play AVCHD natively, you can do just that (and delete the converted files).
  3. sdavis81 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 13, 2009
    Thanks for the reply, just to clarify (think I need to learn lingo))

    is each "card" the movie clip?

    Right now I hook my camera to computer and import all the clips to the hard drive, then send them over to my network storage.

    I am guessing you mean just to leave them that way....and eventually they can be put together into movies and left in AVCHD?
  4. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    I think Keith assumed that your Canon recorded onto SD cards. That's what he was referring to.
  5. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    That's exactly what Keith did. As you might have now garnered, I'm not very familiar with the HG20, but there are often issues when you start messing around with file structures, so it might be an idea to stick with what I recommended above (replacing any reference to "card" with "hard drive"). Or it might be an idea to wait for some advice from someone who knows what they're talking about!
  6. sarge macrumors 6502a


    Jul 20, 2003
    What Keith Said...

    Leaving the original alone is a primary directive in the archivists handbook. If you import the clip into FCP then export it you'll introduce another layer of compression, which just degrades the quality of your content. Always leave the source clip in it's native format and strive to archive those.
    For long term storage, tape is still the best/most cost effective but I always have my content mirrored on 2 HD's as I don't have an LTO tape drive myself.
  7. kilrb macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2009
    I'm fairly new to all this, but I found some $40 software at, called Revolver. With this software, you can select whatever individual clips you have on your camcorder, and then make an exact copy of those clips; and it automatically copies whatever other files are on the camcorder, so your computer will see the file as a camera. It basically makes what I believe to be a "disk image" that keeps the files in their original format. Whenever you want to use i-movie to edit, you open up that image, and it appears on your desktop as a connected device, and i-movie thinks it's a connected camera, and you can import and edit and do whatever you want for a project. Of course, you probably won't leave them in i-movie, since the converted AIC files are 6 times as large as the original AVCHD files... This seems to be working well for me. I have yet to confirm that this is "the best" long-term solution in terms of quality, but I think the files Revolver spits out are identical, and not re-compressed.
  8. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    Burn original files out to discs or an archive hard drive, as they were - as data. Organize and title. It's the best way to be sure if you don't have the advantages a tape ecosystem provides.
  9. chesbrougha macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2009
    Avchd Editing

    I bought a monster PC just to do AVCHD editing when the format first came out. I held off on getting a camcorder until they came out flash memory, can't stand tapes.

    I have been dealing with problem after problem, never being able to edit how I want to in clip works, but adding effects and multiple layers slows the thing down requiring you to render your previews constantly. I have been using

    Dell XPS 730
    Quad Core 3.0 GHZ (overclocked to 3.67HZ)
    6GB RAM (12 Mb cache)
    4 TB;s of storage using internal and external 7200 RPM transfer rates (external is an esata)
    Premiere Pro CS4
    Dual 3870X2 video cards
    Windows 7 (64 Bit)

    Anyone who says that they can do more than a basic editing job in premiere pro CS4 is simply lying. There is no easy way for the standard consumer to edit multi layer/major effects AVCHD (there are work around; encode in P2 says Adobe--created mass file naming confusion, bloated file sizes and still couldnt do what I wanted...use proxy's, decompress and render in smaller optimized format). Rather than a one step process people should be concerned with: when I do get the footage on the computer and ready to edit will the software and system allow me to do every edit and every effect that I want without having to render.

    From what I have heard, and I spoke with a tech at Adobe (my friend works there) the only computers powerful enough to editing AVCHD naively are 8 core monsters with a ton of RAM; you can argue, but you will be wrong (if you arent having problems than you edits are single to dual layer with no major effects; fine for most I guess)

    I am currently switching to mac, simply giving up on Premiere Pro; I am a life long PC user but PC and Adobe should have taken a page from Mac's book: Don't support something naively that you don't support 120%.

    Good luck to all
  10. cz9h3d macrumors member

    Nov 10, 2009
    I don't want to sound too cynical, but discussions like this highlight how the proliferation of HD or flashed-based camcorders recording in HD create a big issue on how to archive and edit the footage. I've shot on miniDV for 11 years, and all my original unprocessed files still sit on the tapes (yea, probably time to recopy the early ones). I just purchased a flash-based camcorder to match my iMac I7, and am already thinking the 1TB G-tech I just bought for time machine needs a sister to just suck up the original video. With non-tape camcorders now the dominant in sales, I have to think that most people have no idea what to do with original or edited files! Are these now just toys for posting content on Vimeo, Youtube, etc? I don't know - if anyone has seen good articles by experts on this topic I'd love to read them!

    BTW - I returned my AVCHD Panasonic SD10 due to poor low light, and now have a Sanyo FH1a - a non-AVCHD camera. No idea what this means to my long-term archive or editing strategy though!!!
  11. arri macrumors newbie

    Aug 7, 2008
    Burn Final Projects onto Bluray

    burn all project and data files for each finished project onto bluray as data.
  12. arri macrumors newbie

    Aug 7, 2008
    Bluray Archive Solution / Correction

    burn all project files, and video for each final project onto bluray as data.
  13. dba7dba macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2008
    Near Apple
    Here's easy to follow step on how to archive AVCHD files.

    "After a little experimentation I’ve opted to use Apple’s built in application, Disk Utility, to make a straight clone of the SDHC card as a disk image file (dmg). The benefit of doing it this way into a disk image rather than just dragging and dropping the SDHC card contents into a folder on your desktop is when you remount the disk image file iMovie 08 recognises it as a connected camera and starts the video import wizard, creating the disk image is also stupidly faster than importing the footage into iMovie which requires heavy processor time."

    I do the samething with my canon HD camcorder with flash media. I so much prefer this over storing tapes taken with my old miniDV camcorder. I have a shoe box full of tapes from my old MiniDV camcorder.

    HDs are cheap. Buy 2, 1 as primary storage and 2nd as a backup HD.

    One great benefit of using dmg format is that you can connect 2 or 3 or more dmg files to edit 1 movie clip. And there's no chance of messing something up by leaving a small file behind while copying them around.
  14. huskyfan macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2009
    Is there way disk image directly from the canon camcorder? I have a canon HF10 HD camcorder which records to a HD as well as flash drive. I would like to disk image both drives. Also, currently I do not have an SD card reader and my Macbook Pro doesnt have an SD slot so the only way to get files to my laptop is directly from the camera.
  15. danimal99 macrumors regular

    Jul 21, 2008
    I would think you could diskimage the HG10's internal drive as well as the SD card since they both show up as external drives on the Mac.

    I got an HG20 last week and fretted over how to backup my clips for days, but finally just listened to what others were saying - put your clips on your SD card (for the HG's, since you can just copy from the HDD to the SD card), then DiskImage the SD card. I then move them to a folder on my MBP that I setup for my AVCHD archives, named something descriptive like "2009-12-24-XmasFootage.dmg", that gets backed up via Time Machine, and also backed up to a second external drive. So the result is I have (at least) 3 copies of my raw footage, which is the smallest size you'll get and keep the original quality, as well as the disk structure that's so important.

    If you want to be really slick, use a 4Gig SDHC card and fill it up - then you can also burn the dmg to a regular old DVD+R for even more redundancy in a wafer-thin storage medium. Also you can setup the free CrashPlan app and have it copy to other computers in your home network, or to friends or wherever.

    And now you can always go back and mount that disk image, and as far as your Mac is concerned, you just plugged in that original SD card straight from your camcorder. iMovie will import from it as such, so will Final Cut Express and Final Cut Pro (and whatever ever others like Premiere).

    Once you get all your clips copied off and stored away, you can safely clean off your camcorder's HDD and start all over. Unless you're filming feature-length films worth of footage every other day, you won't need to add new hard drive storage space all that often either. With multiple levels of redundancy, I can't see how this isn't just an ideal way of doing it, even more so than the old MiniDV tapes. I have a ton of those, and worry about those tapes degrading or, even worse, getting eaten up by my old Elura when its tape drive eventually goes bad and chomps down on a cassette, like my old ZR10 did.

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