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Best Format & Codec for Digital Archive?

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Andrew Allen
Best Format & Codec for Digital Archive?
on Jun 23, 2014 at 4:51:08 am

Apologies if this has already been asked elsewhere. A quick search didn't turn up what I was looking for.

I'm looking to transfer a number of older film and video formats (8mm, Hi8, VHS, DV) to digital files and am trying to decide on the best format & codec to use. I don't yet know the total runtime, but it's likely to be in the range of 20-50 hours.

What's important:

Best compression to file size tradeoff—Full uncompressed will likely be unmanageable, so I'm looking for something with minimal compression but great size reduction. Again, many archivists recommend JPG2000 as a codec, but it's one I'm not familiar with. Any recommendations?
Future proof—I know nothing is guaranteed, but what's likely to be the solid, dominant format for the next 5-10 years?
Playability—easily viewable format. MXF seems commons among archivist including the Library of Congress, but I'd prefer MOV.

There are many articles out there with different forms of advice, but if anyone out there has done a similar thing, I'd love to hear from you and what you learned in the process.


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Erik Lindahl
Re: Best Format & Codec for Digital Archive?
on Jul 14, 2014 at 6:38:33 am

What's your current post-production format / codec?

Do note that JPEG 2000 often hold roughly ProRes / DNxHD bit rates. If you're working with one of the later you're hitting your material with quite the quality hit for possibly better future-proofing.

I'd be surprised if MOV and ProRes doesn't hold far into the future considering it now being a record, edit and delivery format.


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Scott Goddard
Re: Best Format & Codec for Digital Archive?
on Jul 14, 2014 at 4:50:53 pm

It is tough decision and no body has a looking glass to see the future on this. The BBC recently did a huge study to find the right format to store their digital archive. They ended up using uncompressed MXF.

More details here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/publications/whitepaper241

Obviously that's a best case scenario with a HUGE budget. For the rest of us I still feel Prores is the best way to get the right balance. Keep the tapes though...

Scott Goddard

Neo Verite Limited
http://neoverite.com


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