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TONS of tapes...need digital archive solution

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Jason BrownTONS of tapes...need digital archive solution
by on Oct 6, 2009 at 2:24:54 am

Hey Guys,

Well not TONS, but probably a few hundred tapes...

I'd like to get all the footage we have on HDV tape shot by a Canon XL-H1 into a digital format for archive. We plan on meta-tagging the footage and making the clips searchable. It's a huge project, but I'm starting with a solution to get the footage digitized. Price isn't an just needs to be a clean workflow...I've looked @ the just seems clunky with only 256GB storage modules.

Also, there's an issue with playback of HDV footage with other devices other than the camera itself. I'd guess most of the footage is shot 1080 60i. I can't verify that...but since I took over, that's what it's being shot in. No 24 frame stuff! :)

Anyone have any experience with this? Done it? Doing it? Ideas?


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Mark SuszkoRe: TONS of tapes...need digital archive solution
by on Oct 6, 2009 at 2:49:44 pm

Technically, it's already "digitized" :-) Your problem is really

1) how to transfer it to another storage medium and

2) make it accessible to search and, I guess, playback.

My first instinct would be to just buy a huge drive array, as many Tb or petas as you need. Offsite operators now rent this, if you don't want to do it yourself; Amazon for example will host your files for money. If you don't have the money for that, then you can use cheaper methods, but you face the Eternal Triangle of cost-speed-quality, where you only get to pick any two out of three.

Meaning, in this case, you can transfer the HDV to lower-rez proxy formats, likely SD quality, whatever takes up the least space, and use the proxy files for the searchable database. Once the footage the customer needs is located via search, you'd still have to go thru more work steps to dig out a master and clone the specific requested clip off of it, before they could have it in full original quality. I don't like that much, but that's one kind of trade-off. We do that for an oral history archive we are shooting: the original tapes are kept locked up, users get to work with simple DVD-R's for viewing and note taking. When a legit documentarian or someone finds something on the 2-hour DVDs they want to use for a program they are creating, they then ask for dubs to be run off the original DVC pro master, using a bit-for-bit clone copied thru SDI between two decks.

When we started the documentation of those oral histories, we went around and around on format choice, and we stuck to DV25 as what was, for us, the most economical and practical overall choice. it is ubiquitous; lots of gear and software than can work with it, from multiple companies, and so chances are that it will be around for a relatively long time. DV25 was easy to edit and work with, when h.264 or mpeg4 or even mpeg2 was not. I love 264... for final output/delivery. And mpeg2 is nice... But not for aquisition, IMO, or as an intermediate format to edit from or otherwise work with. And the kinds of shooting we did, very static and tight closeups, really wasn't going to benefit from the increased rez of HDV or a 16:9 frame. So we kept it 4:3 SD and we kept the costs down while making the footage easier for *us* to work with.

Another idea: You could dub the footage to multiple BluRay disks, while having a transcriptionist type everything that is said into a captioning file, so that with the transcript linked by time codes, you now have keyword-searchable video, of a sort. The BD disks are relatively cheap to replicate, once recorded. I've seen dubber/printers for BluRay around $2k, and the disks cost about what we're used to paying for betacam or DVCPro tape.

Anyway, once moved to BluRay, the raw tapes can be retired to long term storage and not be exposed to futher wear. All further dubs in high or low quality would be made thru the BD dubs. If you want to deliver over the internet, I can't help you, I think that means going back to the massive hard drive arrays. Anyhow, I just wanted to share with you my thought process on this, it may or may not apply to you since every situation is a little different.

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Mark SuszkoRe: TONS of tapes...need digital archive solution
by on Oct 6, 2009 at 3:46:36 pm

Look at this:

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