Video Archiving Solution
I've been asked to contribute some ideas for a video archiving solution for my company. I come from the world of high-end video, so my idea of "archiving" means a huge tape library of BetaSP or DVCPRO masters.
However, I'm now in the corporate world, and dealing with things like VHS tapes, Camtasia captures, even RealPlayer and Windows Media files. The company used to use post facilities to produce things, but I'm not even sure if we have the original masters on any of that stuff.
My gut reaction is to archive everything from the source as uncompressed QuickTime at it's original specs. Then, re-purpose and compress as needed for various applications: DVD, .flv, streaming QT, and yes, even (*shudder*) YouTube.
Unfortunately, I don't think this will fly here, since we have a lot of people that want access to the archive, and most of them don't have much experience in re-purposing video or even knowing much about compression or file formats.
Where we were on this situation was, we had a ton of stuff in obsolete formats, clogging a too-small storage room and in danger of becoming unplayable and lost. The expedient solution we decided on for the 1-inch, umatic and betaSp footage was to lay it all off to Panasonic realtime DVD recorders using DVD-R in 2-hour mode.
The quantity of tapes we had to deal with was just too great to try and save it to anything "better" (more expensive) like Blue Ray, hard drives, etc. and the quality of these archives was deemed "good enough" by our staff for the forseeable uses of the footage. The throughput using multiple decks and machines has been good so far: a temp is converting entire banker boxes worth of tapes into a shoebox worth of DVD's weekly. These are easy and cheap to make additional copies from, and the transfers can generally be done by unskilled temp labor once you set the gear up properly.
Further, once encoded as mpeg 2, you can ingest them into an NLE and authoring software and re-purpose as you see fit for DVD, streaming, podcasting, etc. with no further losses to the original. Yes, you are throwing away some quality with a lossy format like Mpeg2. In our case, literally it came down to "so what, the umatic quality wasn't that great to begin with, and it's the difference between something or nothing".
If one was a fanatical purist, they could ingest the best masters uncompressed into the NLE and save them off to DATA DVD, though you'd have to span the program over several disks using DVD-r. of course, while this stores the program material well, it doesn't give you something immediately USEABLE without more intermediate steps involved to get the thing back to a program stream somebody can watch. I submit that unless we are talking about a handful of programs, you're never going to find the time and energy to service a large user community with that workflow. Blue ray might hold an entire program on one disk as data, but frankly, the value for money versus quality level decision has to be a unique calculation for every person that faces these circumstances. What works for us my be abhorrent to you. Your mileage will vary.
Still, I would suggest that for the scenario you laid out, getting everything into one useable, archiveable standard format economically is a good start for whatever you want to do afterwards.
Hi, we had almost 20,000 hours of historic news footage to archive and make available to selected staff within our organisation. There are a few solutions available, we opted for a product called Planet eStream at http://www.planetestream.co.uk. For us, this solution ticked all the boxes. We ingest media from BetaCam tapes, digitize it, add it to the system, and publish it online.
When Avid introduced DNxHD in 2004, among its specific goals was archiving. Certainly playback of course, but also in response to meetings with studio executives talking about what they were going to do with these massive digital files. The idea was to create a digitally lossless format that could go many generations without decay, with dramatic savings in space. While the studio guys liked the idea of DNxHD, they were concerned about being able to open the files later, so Avid released the codec as open source.
When ProRes was introduced in 2007, I don't know the extent to which Apple specifically developed it with archiving in mind. I would certainly not expect Apple to release the source code any time soon. :-) And, kidding aside, I could understand people's reluctance to put their media lives in Apple's hands.
So as you're looking at file alternatives, be sure to at least consider DNxHD....although it begs the larger question about what you'll need to do in order to migrate your data to new drives on a regular basis...