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Low Bit-Rate 'Archive' Format

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Nick Royer
Low Bit-Rate 'Archive' Format
on Apr 16, 2015 at 2:44:25 pm

I have a lot of old footage in ProRes 422 and other higher bit-rate codecs eating up my storage space. These projects are done and are unlikely to be revisited, so I want to transcode the original clips into a smaller format that will allow me to still use them in the future if necessary (for my reel and other online stuff).

Another consideration is the time it will take to transcode. I am on Adobe CC with Media Encoder, but I could also use Apple Compressor if that would be faster/better. The key for me is that I want the best combination of fast(ish) transcode, highest quality, and lowest file size.

A long-gop format is going to be ideal for this I think. H.264 would be an option, but what else is out there? H.265 is on the horizon but I'm not sure what supports it yet. Would love to hear feedback from people who have more post-prod experience than I do (I'm primarily a DP but I do some editing as well).


Nick Royer - Cinematographer
Omaha, NE + 250 miles

(402) 681-2925

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Tim Jones
Re: Low Bit-Rate 'Archive' Format
on Apr 16, 2015 at 5:30:04 pm
Last Edited By Tim Jones on Apr 16, 2015 at 5:31:29 pm

HI Nick, unfortunately, there isn't one size fits all answer for this. Our team has worked with so many different creation and post organizations that it really ends up taking a lot of trial an error to find the format that provides both the end-result quality you're looking for and the performance that you need to get the job done.

On the other hand, have you considered archiving in the native formats that you shoot rather than any form of transcoding? With Seagate and HGST providing single disk 8TB units that are specifically designed for archival rather than performance, you can save a lot of your original work much more economically than just 1 year ago.

If your budget allows, you could also take the step into the LTO world. While the initial cost of entry may feel high, the per-GB cost of LTO-5 and LTO-6 tapes is very low. We current sell single LTO-5 tapes for $20.50 and LTO-6 tapes for $37.50. That translates to 1.3 cents per GB on LTO-5 and 1.5 cents for LTO-6. Additionally, the LTO media will sit idle on a shelf for 30+ years while requiring no maintenance or power.

In either case - disk or tape, saving your original shots becomes economical enough that transcoding trial and error isn't required.

Tim Jones
CTO - TOLIS Group, Inc.
BRU ... because it's the RESTORE that matters!

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