Previous 1 2 Next 29 Replies Latest reply: Oct 1, 2007 8:33 AM by richisgame
richisgame Level 1 Level 1 (35 points)
I am importing old VHS and 8mm family videos for my cousin, to both burn them to DVD, and to archive the movies in case he wants to edit them later.

I am planning on purchasing for him, a "write once," external HDD, probably firewire, (though I am open to suggestions), to put both the backup Video TS folders on, as well as the Quicktime movies themselves.

My guess is, the best format for the QT movies would be their original DV-NTSC, but at around 13GB an hour, this can add up pretty fast.

The h264 .mov codec looks great, takes forever to render, and it seems the file size difference to DV-NTSC is nominal at best.

Obviously the future is some kind of HD, so these movies will never look great years from now, but I want them to be preserved for him at the best quality possible, at the smallest file size, if it will not compromise the quality too much.

I know I can render them significantly smaller as h264 .mp4 files, or as DIVX, (which also takes a long time), but I imagine they are of significantly reduced quality that would be visible in future video editing he might do.

If DV-NTSC is the only way to go, so be it. But if not, then any suggestions for what other format I could use to save these QT files, without visible loss of quality is greatly appreciated.

G5 Dual 2.0 1.5gb Ram /Powerbook G4 1.67mhz 1gb Ram, Mac OS X (10.4.10)
  • loyed256 Level 4 Level 4 (2,265 points)
    If there is any chance of having to actually having to edit the files in the future (as opposed to just watching them on a computer) then save the original DV files. Anything is pretty much guaranteed to edit DV files in the future and besides, h.264 is a delivery codec and not an edit codec, hence the problems with editing them. Hard drives are cheap so a good fat drive with all the dv files saved is a good solution.
  • richisgame Level 1 Level 1 (35 points)
    Thanks for the response.

    Yes, I imagine there is a reasonable chance there will be some editing somewhere in the future, as the DVD's I am burning for him are straight transfers of the original recordings. I would think he will eventually want to create a highlights reel or reels, either for his computer, or to export, or burn to DVD somewhere down the line.

    Just so I am clear on your advice. I assume when you say:
    +If there is any chance of having to actually having to edit the files in the future+,
    it's because if he wants to edit them, they will have to be in an editing format,
    +save the original DV files,+
    you mean the original captured DV-NTSC renders, for the same reason.

    And, that therefore there is no effective way to reduce the stored file size from the 13GB per hour DV-NTSC standard, without either losing quality, or leaving the footage in an un-editable format?
  • David Bogie Chq-1 Level 7 Level 7 (25,355 points)
    You failed to identify your terms for "best."
    Archive or back up? Huge difference.

    Make dubs to VHS. VHS will be around for another twenty years.
    Then buy a VHS-to-DVD recorder at Costco, $150-$300 and a case of blank disks.

    How precious are these movies? If "very" you want to make TWO VHS dubs and place one set in a safe off site place. Or make one VHS and one DVCAM dub at the same time, smaller form factor, easier to store and easier to lose and no one knows if you will be able to find a tape machine for them in 20 years.

    Doing the dubs is only a matter of finding the time and energy. Your main problems will be assembling them in some kind of order and then cataloging and carefully labeling the tapes. Without a database, even a shoebox with index cards, the copies are almost useless.

  • David S. Level 7 Level 7 (20,630 points)
    *And, that therefore there is no effective way to reduce the stored file size from the 13GB per hour DV-NTSC standard, without either losing quality, or leaving the footage in an un-editable format?*

    Essentially, yes.

    H.264 is processor intensive, takes forever, and isn't an editing format.

    I would transcode to DV tape, and put those in a safe, cool place.
  • richisgame Level 1 Level 1 (35 points)
    Thanks for the help guys.

    Bogiesan: They are precious. And he has around 40hrs of them. They are original VHS recordings of his daughter when she was born 15 years ago. He doesn't want more VHS copies. That is part of the point. He wants to be able to watch them on his DVD player, and for his daughter to be able edit them on her mac, if she wishes. I can't do proper DVCam backups, because his VHS tapes are two hours long, and my DVCam only records 40min tapes.

    David S.: SoI guess doing a DV Tape backup is out. And, I gotcha on the h.264 as being delivery only. (Seeing as it takes forever, and the file size is minimally smaller than DV-NTSC, what is h.264 good for anyway?)

    So, I bought for him a Seagate Freeagent Pro 750gb, with eSATA, FW400, and USB 2.0 that I will put the Quicktime movies, (in DV-NTSC format), on that drive as well as burn him the DVD's.

    BTW, what options do I have for making continuous 2 hour DV tape copies?
  • richisgame Level 1 Level 1 (35 points)
    Also, something is wrong with the forums today.
    I can't mark any of your posts as helpful or solved.
  • richisgame Level 1 Level 1 (35 points)
    Still can't give points for helpful or solved.
    Keep getting error messages.
    Apple should fix this.
    I'm closing the thread.
    Thanks for the help.
  • Finalcutter Level 1 Level 1 (140 points)
    I don't want to stretch this topic, and sue me if I am Jacking!

    Personally I wouldn't just trust a hard drive as a storage format.
    Harddrives are unreliable if they sit for a long time, and are meant to be a read/write temporary media, not at all permanent or safe media.

    I would seriously suggest tapes as a solid archive format (good mould resistant tapes), and thus DV tapes are the best option as they are small and there a re good brands that repel mould reasonably well (although all should be kept in a cool dry place).

    There are also Gold Archive Standard DVD disks that can last 100 years, (I trust Delkin DVDs).

    But again you will have the problem that it will span either lots of tapes, or lots of disks.
    This should not be a concern as you said the memories were precious, and I personally would not trust a hard drive to store my memories.

    In any case, NEVER destroy the originals.
    No doubt you might want to make HD versions direct from the VHS' in 20 years time.
  • richisgame Level 1 Level 1 (35 points)
    I appreciate your response.

    +Harddrives are unreliable if they sit for a long time,+
    I know hard drives fail. They have on me, and just about everyone I know who seriously uses their computer. The archiving HD storage I am talking about would be a, "once write, and store in a safe," kind of thing. It wouldn't be a drive that is used.

    Does that change your opinion at all? Or did you mean, unreliable even if unused?

    He has about 45 hours of his daughter from when she was a baby, to around eight years old.
    QT movies at 13 gigs an hour, is 585 gigs.
    Archived, that would be around 70 DL discs, or around 130 single layer disks.
    Neither he, or his daughter have DL optical drives installed in their computers. So they would prefer single layer.

    And if I did go that way, (and assuming I had to go single layer), I would have to cut up the footage on each two hour Vhs and 8mm tapes into 20 minute Quicktime segments, (6 DVD's of QT files for each 2 hour tape.)

    Also, do you know what, if any, DV tape format holds 2 hours of footage?
  • Finalcutter Level 1 Level 1 (140 points)
    I appreciate your response.

    I didn't mean to reopen a closed file, but just wanted to put in my 2 cents, and maybe resolve the best archive method.

    The archiving HD storage I am talking about would be a, "once write, and store in a safe," kind of thing. It wouldn't be a drive that is used.

    Personally, and this is just me, I don't know of an HD that would suit this purpose,
    I would assume it would deteriorate if not used.
    I am willing to be corrected on long term HD storage.
    Out of interest I found this site:

    ...did you mean, unreliable even if unused?

    I once kept an old HD (300Mb) from a really old PC, stored it safely, and come back to it 10 years later.
    It fired up, then ground to a stop when I was reading from it.
    It literally crunched to death.
    I opened it and one of the heads had come lose and scratched a gash in the platen.

    QT movies at 13 gigs an hour, is 585 gigs.

    Yeah I can see the dilemma.
    Most edit houses I work for have literally rooms full of archives, counting into the millions of hours.
    And I too have baby images and video that I store at home, so know what you mean.

    Personally I store it all on DVCAM (mini tapes).
    That's 40 mins per tape, difficult, but they are small tapes.

    My advice would be to double up, add some redundancy.
    If you want to do it right then definitly store on the HD (easy to use in the near future and in one big lump!).
    And then just whittle away at copying the VHS tapes one at a time to DVCAM tapes.
    Break then up and add handles to each tape (overlap of 2 minutes of footage).

    I like to loop a VHS machine to a DVCAM deck (or camera with analogue in), and then to a DVD burner. Do it all in one go.
    This way you have an easy format to look at (the DVDs are just to quickly watch the footage, not at all for archiving), and you have the new DVCAM dub.

    Also, do you know what, if any, DV tape format holds 2 hours of footage?

    Only DVCAM wide tapes, but that's a new game altogether.
    Seriously steer clear from DV LP (long play).

    Again, I don't want to cause a stir here, I just want to see you make the right choice for archiving as I have had to pick up the pieces on some family memories that have been badly archived.
    My uncle archived some 8mm film to SVHSC a long time ago and then dumped the 8mm film.
    Now the SVHSC is mouldy and we have only damaged standard def images of my granddad.
  • David Murray4 Level 2 Level 2 (310 points)
    I have been working in the video archive field for a little more than I care to remember. We have a few rules, most expressed already in this thread. And here they are:

    1) Never destroy an original. Keep it labeled, in a safe place where temperature and humility levels are as constant as possible. If you make a programme from original material, treat it as you would an original.

    2) When making copies of analogue TV (or digital) stuff for archive 'upgrade' when possible.
    If the original was VhS we used to record a dub onto to U-Matic (that's a while ago!), then we used Betacam. Now we put our footage stuff onto DVCAM (unless it was shot on Betacam, in which case we have a Betacam dub).
    The advantage of DVCAM is that tapes and hardware are relatively cheap and it is an accepted industrial standard (which means it'll be around for a couple of years).

    Making a dub of a VhS onto VhS, as has been suggested, may not be a good idea as VhS copies (or even dubs) do seem to 'ghost'. There is an industrial way to get good VhS copies but it is extremely expensive for just one copy. (Big duplication houses will have this; it is not a machine to machine copy; it is more like the DVD replication system is use today).

    3) Avoid new digital formats for archive purposes. They may be fine for working copies (like QT, for example), but given the fact that digital formats are still being perfected and developed, maybe the format you might choose will be unavailable in five years time. Remember the small floppy disks?
    This is a hardware concern, but also an 'information contained' concern.
    Digital formats will tend to compress info that later cannot be retrieved.

    4) Keep up to date. DVCAM and Betacam will be around for a while. So, for the moment, it is safe. But the safe physical shelf life of any good tape is reckoned at 40 years. After that, or maybe well before that (if you see hardware going totally out of date), you will have to start all over.

    5) If the stuff is particularly precious, make two archive copies and save them in different locations. Floods, theft, fire...

    Hope that is helpful.

    Good luck,
  • BT Express Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I too am looking for the best way to archive, and I am in the process of looking into this format for longevity.
  • David Bogie Chq-1 Level 7 Level 7 (25,355 points)
    David, thanks for your contribution to the discussion. I do not disagree with anything you have said, however, I wish to point out that there is a large gap between the archiving work you do professionally and the desire for many casual video people to preserve their old stuff. As the thread indicates, confusion about the terms archive, preserve, store and back up makes the situation all the more complex.

    Making a dub of a VhS onto VhS, as has been suggested, may not be a good idea as VhS copies (or even dubs) do seem to 'ghost'. < </div>

    I believe the simple S-to-S connection provides adequate video quality for the casual user where a protection dub is the desired outcome. Even VHS-to-VHS dubs can be enhanced with timebase corrector and proc amp.

  • richisgame Level 1 Level 1 (35 points)
    Thanks for all the advice. And I mean everyone.

    Here is my latest dilemma.

    Though 15 years old, the original Vhs's play beautifully. Aside from some (expected) glitches in the beginning or end of some of the shots, the video has not degraded appreciably. This is great news, as my cousin wanted to make back ups before degradation begins.

    First, I captured the Vhs movies and corrected some bad color, mostly due to poor white balancing, and on the computer, they looked great in comparison. I burned DVD's and they looked terrible in comparison with the originals. Now I know I am going to lose some resolution when going to DVD, but it seemed harsh, so I ran some tests.

    I burned a DVD of the original capture, with no color correction, just the raw footage and the DVD did not look much better, so it wasn't the color correction.

    Not satisfied, I made a copy from the FCP timeline straight to Vhs, (I should note, through the ADVC-110.) This looked significantly degraded as well.

    Finally, I made a straight dub from Vhs to DVCam, figuring that had to look good, and that also looked significantly degraded, compared to the, (now looking pristine), Vhs original.

    As the original Vhs looks so good, what good would a TBC do? Or a proc amp?

    Is there some secret to capturing and exporting Vhs that I am missing? Or, will it always look significantly degraded, even straight to DVCam?

    +David Murray wrote: There is an industrial way to get good VhS copies but it is extremely expensive+
    I don't know what this is, but I am sure it is clearly out of our league, but David M., if you are still following this thread, I'm curious, would this ultra expensive method actually result in a dub that looks like the original? I am actually really shocked at how bad the straight DVCam dub looks. It really does not look much better than the color corrected, computer exported version.

    The Vhs tapes of my cousins daughter are as precious to him as anything he has.
    As they date back 15 years, he is concerned about the longevity of the tapes.
    As there are over forty hours of them, he wants them to be in an editable format, so later he or his daughter can make a highlight reel, or whatever. So thus the QT movie archive/backup on HD.

    Whether as Finalcutter said, that this drive, even if unused, and put in a cool dry safe, might not function years down the line, makes it iffy, but what other choice is there for editable versions, unless I break the QT movies up into 20 minute chunks and archive them to over a hundred DVD's instead. Perhaps that is the safest solution, though certainly time consuming.

    As failure of the HDD somewhere in the future is likely, though not certain, I am still not sure that the HDD holding all his QT movies for future editing is the wrong way to go.

    As it is a digital version, and not an analog copy, I get that a DVCam backup of the originals is the best option. I will suggest to him that we do this as well, even though he does not have DVCam himself. But again, is there something I am missing here? Why does the Vhs to DVCam copy look so degraded? Is there anything I can do to keep the original quality, or will it die with his original Vhs as it slowly degrades over time?
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