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Shelf life of digital video formats?

COW Forums : Event Videographers

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Jeff AShelf life of digital video formats?
by on Jun 4, 2004 at 3:28:04 pm

Which format lasts longest: DV, DVCam, DVCPRO25 or DVCPRO50 tapes? I am archiving an event shot on a vareity of analog and digital formats for a client who has specifically requested that the footage be stored on a robust and durable format. The archive tapes will be played very rarely, and are intended for long term storage. Digi-Beta and HD formats are not in the budget. Any tips on what formats will play accurately in 10-50 yrs?

Thks,
Jeff


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mikehRe: Shelf life of digital video formats?
by on Jun 4, 2004 at 8:12:02 pm

I don't think you want to use save any analog format to tape for long term storage. Your customer may direct you to do so, and you may well have to comply, but the nature of analog recording magnetic media, that of variable magnetic flux levels striped onto the tape, is much more prone to degradation over time due to decaying fields, influence of external magnetic fields, etc. Low quality VHS starts to give out after about 10 years.

Digital tape backup (100GB) should last 30 years or so, but they're so sloooooo....zzzz.

The new Sony blu-ray DVD (-R?) are supposed to hold 23GB, and are just about to be released. The writer costs ~$2KUS and the disks cost ~$40US. You may want to consider storing your digitized files on these.


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Doug GrahamRe: Shelf life of digital video formats?
by on Jun 4, 2004 at 8:25:35 pm

Sony claims their DVCAM tape has a higher signal to noise ratio and a more durable binder, and that therefore DVCAM has a higher life expectancy than DV. Can't say if that's true, or if it's marketing hype.

Any digital format has an effectively unlimited life, though, as long as you take them out every few years and make a fresh digital copy.

Alternatively, you could archive on DVD. DVD-R has a life expectancy of 25 years or more IF properly stored and not scratched or subjected to high humidity. However, going from DV to MPEG2 does offer the possibility of introducing some digital artifacting. This may be completely unnoticeable, or very apparent, depending on the compression level used.

Regards,
Doug Graham


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Jeff ARe: Shelf life of digital video formats?
by on Jun 5, 2004 at 1:37:14 pm

Thnks for the tips.
Does anyone have any knowledge of how DVCPro media holds up over time compared to DVCam? Or does is simply boil down to what brand of tape and how well it is stored? The client is convinced that DVCPRo is the way to go, and I think it is unnecessary since none of the original footage is even digital. It's all elderly BetaSP, 3/4" and VHS. So going onto DVCPro would only be advantageous if DVCPRo offered some amazing shelf life compared to DVCAM.
Thanks again for the words of wisdom.

Jeff
Montreal


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Doug GrahamRe: Shelf life of digital video formats?
by on Jun 5, 2004 at 9:59:46 pm

One argument you might try is this: DVCPRO has a much smaller market share than either DV or DVCAM. It's likely to be harder to find DVCPRO playback equipment in a few years. The last proprietary format Panasonic came out with was MII...try finding someone to play back THOSE tapes today.



Regards,
Doug Graham


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HazeRe: Shelf life of digital video formats?
by on Jun 5, 2004 at 2:14:42 pm

10-50 yrs?

There's no magic digital archive format that will still be usable 10 years from now. This business moves so fast that in 2 years you see major changes in regards to new encoding schemes and methods to store digital information. In 3 years modes for acquisition shift. In technology terms 5 years is an eternity. In the last 20 years many formats have come and gone. To name a few: Panasonic's Recam later followed by MII, Sony's Betamax (superior image quality to VHS, noetheless a long gone format), DCT, D2, 1" C (O.K. technically there are still a few 1"machines lying around but you be hard pressed to find someone that knows how to thread the tape).

Blu-Ray? Sure it looks promising but right now there's a very hard fought battle between the developers of Blu-Ray technology and the DVD Forum over setting the new standards for the DVD industry. The DVD Forum has their own format in mind. In 50 years we will probably see 500 terabytes of data stored on a chip the size of a pin head. The 3.5" floppy disk is less than 25 years old and by todays standards it's nearly an extinct format.

What will we use to store information in 10 - 50 yrs. ? Nobody knows for sure. About the only thing we do know is that 50 yrs down the road it will be nearly impossible to retrieve information from today's formats. Because they will all be long gone. As obscure as it sounds it will be easier to retrieve information stored on film than it will to pull information from a long dead digital format.

It's hard if not impossible to hit a moving target. Now if we just had a bonafide mystic amongst us we would have all the answers.




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mikehRe: Shelf life of digital video formats?
by on Jun 5, 2004 at 10:47:08 pm

Your rant does nothing to answer the question.

Based upon the prior discussions, DVCAM may be the most likely candidate for tape storage, but since it is an unshielded magnetic storage method, there is a risk of catastrophic loss from sommething as simple as a stray refrigerator magnet.

Data storage, NOT MPEG, on CD-R, I think, will be around a long while. The Sony consortium's Blu-Ray DVD data, NOT MPEG, storage will uses the same format as CD-R, it's available, and if Sony pulls another Betamax blunder, one can always transfer to the winning high-density format. There should be a long life for the data encoding format, no matter who's disk it is on. My bet is on Sony simply because they have become so pervasive in the entertainment industry.

The durability of the disks themselves is another concern. DVD-recorded data is said to be good for 50 years so long as the disks are stored in cool temperatures and not exposed to prolonged intense light, but that is assuming the disks were manufactured well. Poor quality disks may only last a few years before the aluminum reflective layer corrodes or the photodye layers de-laminate.

All said, if I were put in a situation where I had to invest in long term storage, I WOULD go with Blu-Ray and digital data files, like AVI's, for storage, and also have tape copies closed up in Mu-metal containers.





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HazeRe: Shelf life of digital video formats?
by on Jun 6, 2004 at 12:01:17 am

If you seriously think that Blu-Ray disks will be around in 50 years your fooling yourself. I find it humorous that people seem to think that technology is just going to stop in its tracks one day.

For perspective let's dial back time to 1953. Your client requests that the footage be stored on a robust and durable format. Your reply "No problem Sir, were storing it on 2" Quad videotape". Because at the time 2" videotape is 'state-of-the-art' in the industry. Now fast forward to 2004 - how in the hell are you going to retrieve the information from this 2" tape? I suppose you could go to a museum. What do museums charge for dubs?

"Your rant does nothing to answer the question." -mikeh

The original question:

Any tips on what formats will play accurately in 10-50 yrs?

OK so I took a long time to say none, big deal.

Will the Blu-Ray still be a viable format in 10 years? Probably.

A viable format in 50 years. Your kidding right?

Open your eyes and witness the speed of change.




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Jeff ARe: Shelf life of digital video formats?
by on Jun 6, 2004 at 1:49:47 pm

Hello lads, Thanks for the spicy discussion.
I'm still a bit of a spot though, and not sure how to spin this techno-talk and industry ponderings into a meaningful answer for my client. If we can agree that of the DVCPRO, DVCAM & DV formats, DVCAM and DV are the most 'widespread' formats... and between the DVCAM and DV formats, DVCAM is a (marginally) more robust signal. Then in 15 yrs, should DVCAM decks still be in abundance and providing that no stray fridge magnets have wiped the stored DVCAM archival tapes (I'll look into shielded storage), could the DVCAM tapes be dusted off and played with success?

Much obliged,
jeff
montreal


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Peter RalphRe: Shelf life of digital video formats?
by on Jun 6, 2004 at 3:17:16 pm

dvcam tapes recorded in dvcam format are going to be better able to cope with recovery from dropouts. Sony Dvcam tapes (wether recorded in dv or dvcam) are going to be more robust than sony dv tapes because Sony use this designation for their professional grade tapes. Panasonic market their pro grade tapes as MQ (master quality. At a minimum the pro grades have better quality control and better cases - I would definitely choose a pro grade tape and go with dvcam recording if possible.

Most important is to store the tapes in a temperature and humidity controlled environment, shielded from electrical /magnetic contamination. Rewind before storing and store upright - like books in the library. This is most important - fail to rewind and store on their side - I have seen problems after 3/4 years - audio dropouts mostly

Will the tape be good in 15 years - I wouldn't bank on it

Will any flavor of dv camera still be manufactured in 15 years - perhaps not

50 years? No chance at all. Think about it - less than 50 years ago the CEO for IBM pronounced that there was no conceivable reason that anyone would ever want a computer in their home!

There must be sites around that deal with archiving, time capsules etc. I would search there


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HazeRe: Shelf life of digital video formats?
by on Jun 6, 2004 at 4:01:15 pm

The honest anwer to your client is that there's isn't a video based format with a shelf life of 50 yrs. And we do not know what formats will be around even 15 years from now.

About the only alternative you can offer your client is to transfer the media to the new format every 8-10 yrs. You will lose some information each time you transcode the data so 50yrs. from now it won't be an exact replica of the original.



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Jeff ARe: Shelf life of digital video formats?
by on Jun 6, 2004 at 6:54:28 pm

thanks kindly for the info,

jeff
montreal


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