Confused about how to store home movies to preserve high quality originals

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by MamaWildBear, Sep 14, 2009.

  1. MamaWildBear macrumors newbie

    Mar 16, 2008
    I have been all over the Internet and am still confused about video formats. It used to be so simple with far less choices. I'm shooting home movies and editing them in iMovie '08. Once that's done I want to save a high quality original of my completed movies.

    I have two sources of home footage. DV Tape from my older camcorder and MOV files from my new Kodak zx1 pocket video camera.

    I had pretty much decided to use the "export using Quicktime" option so save to DV Stream - big but I figured, that was as close to an original copy as I could get.

    Now the Pocket Video Camera complicates things. I took a look at the original clips from that camera and they are MOV files at 59.94fps encoded with the Ambarella AVC Encoder 1280x720 and ACC Stereo 48kHz. So if I make a movie with just these clips, is there any point in saving as DV since they were never DV format to begin with? I did an export to DV stream and the odd thing as that the size ended up being 853x480 pixels and 29.97fps (what happened to my extra pixes and extra frames). 8 minutes of video ended up being 1.58 GB. I usually have no problem with that except that the source video was actually far less than that.

    So, if they start as MOV files, maybe I should be exporting as MOV files? So I used the Quicktime export option to save as MOV using H264 and set it to the 1280x720p size. It ended up still being 29.97fps (should I force it to the original 59.94fps?)


    DV - why is the size of the video winder smaller and does it matter?
    FPS - Should I force it to the original 59.94fps or leave it at the default 29.97fps?
    Data Rate - what the heck is this and what do I do with it? My original camera footage had a data rate of 13.66 mb/s which comes out to 14,233kb/s for the settings window. Elsewhere I read to use 5000kb/s. Aaarrrggghh! To many options

    All I want to know is how to save my final movies so I have the highest quality original backup possible but there are too many settings and too many options. Can anyone help?
  2. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    I'm not an expert in any of this, but I'll try to answer your questions.

    DV is a standard-def file format useful for editing, as it copies every frame from the source tape. If you plan on editing your video again, keeping it in DV is a good idea. The other thing you can do is just keep your mini-DV tape safe and re-import the footage if you want it. Your choice.

    As for your .mov files...

    It sounds like your camera is using 59.94 fields per second (two fields make up a frame), which means it records interlaced. When you edited your video and then exported it from iMovie, it turned that into 29.97 frames per second progressive (half of 59.94 is 29.97). Progressive is better for viewing on a computer screen.

    Now, because this video is hi-def (720 lines of resolution, in your case), and you exported it to DV (a format that was made for standard def), it downscaled it to 480 lines of resolution.

    As for saving copies of your movies, the most important thing is that you archive the original video clips in some fashion. If you are using tape, then either keep the tapes or keep the DV stream. For your pocket video camera, keep the original .mov clips by backing them up to an external drive, etc. Exporting them to DV doesn't really make sense because it is not an HD file format. Export your finished, edited movies in h.264, which was designed for video delivery (as opposed to editing).

    I hope this made sense, and that I didn't get anything wrong.
  3. MamaWildBear thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 16, 2008
    Sounds like good advice but...

    I like your advice but in addition to my original unedited footage, I'd like to keep a copy of my final movie in some "editable" form if that makes sense.

    I'm trying to keep some insurance against format changes in the future. In the past, I've created movies and saved them as Mpeg-2. Suddenly, I have a new computer and gee, isn't that old school and my new computer doesn't like that format. I wished I'd kept the original DV stream of some of my edited movies so I could just re-export them into a current video format. Luckily I was able to trick iMovie into importing Mpeg-2 so I could re-export them.

    So for my current DV camcorder, I have a plan. I keep a DV Stream Export as well as the more playable MOV/MP4 versions. I also use iMovie HD to export them back to tape.

    But for my new pocket camera what format do I save these final, edited movies? Like you said, DV doesn't really makes sense but what would an "editable version" be? I can save the orignal footage but I don't want to re-edit it back into a movie the next time formats change - that's a pain in the behind.

    And if I mix footage from my DV Camcorder and my pocket camera? What then? (Assuming I'm ever going to lug that giant thing around again). Soon I'll probably be getting a hard drive or flash drive camcorder and I'll be stressing again on how to archive my work.
  4. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    Since you are using iMovie HD, the easiest thing to do would be to simply keep your project files. Make sure you back them up to a second drive if they are important to you.

    So, edit your movie and then export to whatever format works best for you for viewing (h.264, DVD, whatever). Then, keep the movie project file saved. If you decide to re-edit your film, you are set to do it.

    Keep in mind that iMovie HD, while fantastic on so many levels, doesn't do nearly as good a job as iMovie 08 or 09 in movie file management. In iMovie '09, for example, all of the clips you import are made available for whatever editing project you want to do. In iMovie HD, if you start one project and then want to use some or all of that footage for another project, it re-copies that video. This starts to eat up drive space very quickly. I love iMovie HD for the more advanced tools it offers (especially audio tweaks), but I must say that iMovie '09 is great for keeping things well organized. Consider upgrading.
  5. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    1280x720 is always progressive which means 59.94 frames, not fields, per second. If 1080i60 is sometimes listed as 59.94 and in that case 59.94 refers to fields, not frames, since it is interlaced.

    Why the confusing naming system? I dunno, but that's just the way it is.

  6. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    Yeah, I thought 720 was always progressive, since I've never seen it otherwise. But I've never seen 720p/60fps before either, so I assumed it must be some weird interlaced version. Thanks for clarifying.
  7. MamaWildBear thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 16, 2008
    Actually I use iMovie '08. I only downloaded iMovie HD because it has the capacity to write back to DV Tape. I edit and create my movies in iMovie '08 and then use iMovie HD to archive them to tape. I probably will be upgrading to iMovie '09 but haven't gotten around to spending the money yet.

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