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Best formats for archiving / editing old home videos

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Lee Overstreet
Best formats for archiving / editing old home videos
on Jan 10, 2013 at 7:41:38 am

My 2013 New Year's resolution was to get all my old home video archived to digital for fun and sharing, and to use some of it from my days of a radio show to make a retro video podcast. For the video podcast, I want to bring together video from lots of old NTSC sources, as well as some new HDV, and .mov's from a Canon 60D DSLR (but that's a whole different topic, probably for the Premiere Pro forum).

I was thinking my workflow might go something like this:
1) Sample old tape onto PC (either pass through a 3-chip Panasonic DV camcorder from 2004, or use a XP machine I have with an old Matrox RT X100 card), separate into events, and save as DV format .avi's. I have the following NTSC formats: VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS, 8mm, Hi8, & DV.
2) Immediately make a DVD for safekeeping, with chapters for each event on the tape. Give copies to family.
3) Keep anything I might be using for said podcast as DV format .avi on a hard drive for later use (3TB RAID1).
4) Convert anything unlikely to be edited to a more compressed, but not TOO compressed, MPEG4 / H.264 for later viewing over my home network on PCs, tablets, a PS3, etc.
5) Along the way, for sharing anything to YouTube / Vimeo / Facebook, export bits to a more compressed MPEG4 / H.264.

I have a 2 year old PC based on a 6-core AMD chip and Windows 7, with Adobe CS4 (no reasonable way to afford CS6 any time soon) and a blu-ray burner.

QUESTIONS:
Am I right in my choice of formats at each stage of this scenario? The .avi would be an NTSC interlaced video file, right, just like copying form a DV tape? I've noticed such .avi's from analog sources contain the messy edges that would normally be overscanned on a television, either SD or HDTV. Should my long-term viewing files in the form of MPEG4/H.264 be de-interlaced, as well as cropped and zoomed to make 640x480 4:3 edge-to-edge videos?

I'm just trying to develop a game plan here with ideal formats for what I'm trying to do, so I can get started digitizing before these old VHS tapes turn to dust. :-) Any specific advice would be GREATLY appreciated!

And let me know if I should break all this down to one question at a time. I tend to get word vomit.

Lee Overstreet
Tuscaloosa, Alabama


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Jeff Greenberg
Re: Best formats for archiving / editing old home videos
on Jan 11, 2013 at 12:10:46 pm

[Lee Overstreet] "Am I right in my choice of formats at each stage of this scenario? The .avi would be an NTSC interlaced video file, right, just like copying form a DV tape? I've noticed such .avi's from analog sources contain the messy edges that would normally be overscanned on a television, either SD or HDTV"

It's not bad. You don't mention which software you're using for compression which would really help.

On interlacing/avi/from DV or other SD source
If your original source was interlaced, keep it interlaced, period. "Preserve the original quality as best you can"

[Lee Overstreet] "Should my long-term viewing files in the form of MPEG4/H.264 be de-interlaced, as well as cropped and zoomed to make 640x480 4:3 edge-to-edge videos?
"

If you're intending it to be viewed on a computer or other non-interlaced playback mechanism, then yes, deinterlace. The messy edges are the points where the scan line is supposed to jump to the next line - truthfully, I'd leave it; again preserving quality.


[Lee Overstreet] "1) Sample old tape onto PC (either pass through a 3-chip Panasonic DV camcorder from 2004, or use a XP machine I have with an old Matrox RT X100 card), separate into events, and save as DV format .avi's. I have the following NTSC formats: VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS, 8mm, Hi8, & DV.
2) Immediately make a DVD for safekeeping, with chapters for each event on the tape. Give copies to family.
3) Keep anything I might be using for said podcast as DV format .avi on a hard drive for later use (3TB RAID1).
4) Convert anything unlikely to be edited to a more compressed, but not TOO compressed, MPEG4 / H.264 for later viewing over my home network on PCs, tablets, a PS3, etc.
5) Along the way, for sharing anything to YouTube / Vimeo / Facebook, export bits to a more compressed MPEG4 / H.264.

I have a 2 year old PC based on a 6-core AMD chip and Windows 7, with Adobe CS4 (no reasonable way to afford CS6 any time soon) and a blu-ray burner.
"


1) Fine
2) Sure. It's compressed, but if you're okay about that and your family primarily uses DVD, spot on. The question is how much video to a DVD; more video = higher compression. 90 min at around 7mb/s is about the biggest you can be anyway.
3) Keep as much material in the original capture format? yup!
4) That's fine. I'd pick a common tablet (i.e. iPad) format in SD
5) Well, this I'd quibble with. Youtube, vimeo, etc are going to recompress your work again - a large h.264 file is probably better than a compressed one.

Last, you do know that adobe is 'renting' CS6 for 30/month, right?

Best,

Jeff I. Greenberg
Editor/Author/Speaker/Consulting
My NAB seminar schedule, contact info and more


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