format/codec for future-proof, multi-platorm home video clip archive?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by jehanson, Sep 4, 2007.

  1. jehanson macrumors newbie

    Aug 31, 2007
    I'm doing a project to digitize all my parents 20 year old VHS tapes before they turn to dust. I've been trimming and cataloging all the files, but so far have left them in DV format. Needless to say, my hard drive is filling up VERY fast. I don't have any immediate plans to use the clips for anything, but I want them for the future. Ideally I'd convert everthing to files that are easily opened and viewed on Mac or Windows computers, and a popular enough format to stand a good chance of still being recognized by computers in 20-30 years. I'd also like to be able to get 3 hours per gigabyte so the short clips are small enough to email and the whole archive is a reasonable size.

    Thanks for the help,
  2. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Make two copies of the videos onto master quality MiniDV tape. Keep one set of tapes in your house and the other set at another location (w/another family member for instance). Every couple of years you'll want to play all the tapes to check for dropouts/errors and after 5-10 years you'll want to take the tapes copy them to fresh media (either tape again or higher capacity optical media, maybe even holographic media will be down in the consumer realm by then).

    No way that's going to happen. Got any paper computer punch cards from 1977 that can be read on your Mac today? ;)

    No way w/o killing quality and that's the last thing you want to do while archiving something. Leave the archive masters on DV tape and make smaller copies of the material to keep on your computer to e-mail/show people.

  3. huntercr macrumors 65816

    Jun 6, 2006
    Well, I'm not sure about future proof, but leaving them in DV is probably your best bet, especially if you are wanting to have the as "clips" as you say. Encoding them down to something else is just going to degrade quality worse.

    I wouldn't worry about file size. In even 5 years, 3GB is going to be nothing at all I'd say.

    Like LethalWolfe said, putting them back on DV tape is ideal, but then you need to make sure you have a player/camera available in 10 years.

    You could also just buy several 500GB haddrives. There are 500GB SATA drives going for $100 these days. 2 will get you about 77 hours of DV.

    Of course in 10-20 years, will you be able to find a computer that will have a SATA interface? Probably not. You will have to store it on something else.

    Wait and see what format survives the BluRay HD-DVD war, and make copies to that perhaps. :)
  4. jehanson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 31, 2007
    I know keeping the DV is the "best" solution, but I just don't think that will work. Outside of these VHS tapes, I doubt anyone in my family will ever have a use for magnetic tape or own a magnetic tape reader again -- so saving everyting to DV tapes is out. Likewise, managing the DV files on the computer is going to be just too unwieldly. I've already got over 400 Gigs of DV files and I'm only 10% or 15% of the way through the stack of tapes. Managing an evenutal 4 terrabytes of files and distributing them to family memebers is just too much.

    These old home movies are far from broadcast quality anyway, so I figure if I do one lossy compression step now (and avoid re-encoding the files in the future) the quality loss should be minimal (at least to our undiscerning eyes). I'm looking for that "good enough" solution where the file size ends up being maybe 10 MB/min and in a format that's easy to get working on everybody's computers.
  5. huntercr macrumors 65816

    Jun 6, 2006
    OK I've changed my mind. As you've said, these aren't the greatest quality in the first place.... you're already upconverting it scanline wise when you captured the video.

    I'd go for H.264 then. It's a universally adopted format that is supported by MS, Apple, as well as BluRay and HD-DVD, in some form.

    You can drop down to 640x480 resolution since unless you're cplaying these tapes from a professional deck, you're only getting 240-400 lines of resolution anyway.
    ( I'd suggest 480x480 nonsquare pixels here, but I have this weird feeling this will be a pain in the arse in the future )

    If you verify your input real scanlines, you could even probably drop this down to 480x360 with no real loss.

    You'd have to ask an expert what H.264 profile you should use here, I would assume baseline is just fine. You can have a high bitrate here and still lower your storage size dramatically.
    the only thing of course is that encoding time will take a virtual eternity. :)

    I would recommend looking for a solution that lets you run batch encodes because with the size of library you're taking about, I would imagine encoding would literally take months on a single machine.

    Good luck!

    Another thought, since you are talking about distributing it to family members is to convert this all to MPEG2 and make DVDs of it all. I know that sounds like overkill, but since everything is organized by tape anyway it would keep your resulting library simple.
    And if you use a Dual layer disc you can have very nice high bitrates :)

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