Archiving Footage, running low on storage
I have an issue. We have a limited amount of space in our server. Currently we have a mix of video formats, ranging from apple pro res, Xdcam, dvcprohd, HDV, SD, H264. We are currently using FCP 7 and thinking about switching to Avid due to its handling of H264 editing. A few questions:
1. To create more storage, is the idea of transcoding all footage to H264 a good idea?...especially due to its size and quality?
2. The transcoding from H264 to other formats, such as apple pro res, mpeg2 and broadcasting... how will the quality differ?
3. What solutions are people using to archive large amount of footage?
Thanks for any feedback.
[Geo Monterosa] "To create more storage, is the idea of transcoding all footage to H264 a good idea?...especially due to its size and quality?"
Avid can work with h.264 via AMA, but it isn't a panacea. It tends to work on short, simple projects but struggles for longer more complex projects. Best practice for a happy Media Composer is still to ingest/transcode to DNxHD.
Regardless of your NLE, I would not recommend compressing your footage to try to fit more onto your existing storage. That approach won't work forever (you'll fill your storage again anyway) and it can cost you a lot in terms of time and trouble.
[Geo Monterosa] "The transcoding from H264 to other formats, such as apple pro res, mpeg2 and broadcasting... how will the quality differ?"
It depends on the flavor of h.264, but in general it is considerably lower quality than Pro Res, DNxHD, and other 4:2:2 I-frame codecs. For one thing, h.264 tends to be 8-bit 4:2:0 while Pro Res and DNxHD are 10-bit 4:2:2 (or better). This means much less color information is maintained, which limits your latitude in color grading and compositing. As mentioned above, you also give up a lot of performance when you try to edit with h.264. There is also a lot of transcoding time you'd need to account for.
[Geo Monterosa] "What solutions are people using to archive large amount of footage?"
LTO-5 is becoming pretty popular, and I like Cache-A's implementation for its ease of use and flexibility. It strikes a lot of people as expensive since it is in the high four figures and up, but when you consider what it is and what it does, it is very reasonably priced. You'll also find them on this forum.
Sony has a new optical drive this year that stacks several BD-R platters inside a cartridge. No word yet on pricing, but count on it not being cheap since it is aimed at the enterprise storage market.
The cheapest (though riskiest) archiving method is to buy bare high-density HDDs and load them via a "toaster" and store them in an anti-static case on a shelf. The risk is that HDDs are not designed for this kind of duty and have been known to simply not spin up after years of sitting on a shelf. You can mitigate some of the risk by storing to redundant HDDs.