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Old 13th March 2008, 22:23   #1  |  Link
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 14
Encoding DV for backup

Hi all!

I've avoided writing this post for a while, but I've kind of reached a point where I need a push in the right direction. This post is actually very similar to the recent Max Quality & Archival Purposes thread in the DivX forum but I wanted to give my specific requirements and not hijack that thread.

I've got ~25 mini DV tapes worth of family home video (I know, boring!) that I've recorded over the past ~10 years that I would like to:
  • Get off of tape and onto my computer in a format that
    • Works with my backup strategy - I have my primary hard drive in the computer that I sync with two external hard drives that I rotate on/off site every couple of weeks.
    • Is easily shareable - I'd like to be able to burn the files to a DVD (not necessarily make a DVD) or be able to take one of my external backup drives to my extended family and copy locally.
    • Can be encoded to other formats - Every now and then I'll have a clip that I either want to upload to YouTube or encode for my iPod.
    • Works in consumer video editing software - Every now and then I'll go the extra mile to actually edit the clips into a video with a soundtrack, etc.

So, the first part is easy. I use WinDV to get the video from the tape and onto my computer into individual timestamped clips based on scene change/discontinuity threshholds. What I end up with is ~12GB of data and ~30 - 60 files (per hour / tape). Doing the math for ~25 tapes, we end up with ~300GB of data and 750 - 1500 files. While I do agree with Ron Spencer that keeping the data in DV format is ideal and hard drives are fairly cheap, it just isn't practical to replicate 300GB of video + 10GB of images + 50GB of music. Yes, I know that 500GB drives are common now, but I'm fine with losing some quality at the expense of convenience. We do that with images (JPG vs RAW) and music (MP3 vs FLAC), etc.

What I need is a process or tool that can batch encode a list or directory of files to about 20% of the size (2.4GB/hour) or rate (6000kbps) of the original format. I came up with the 20% number through a little trial and error and it seems reasonable: 12GB * 0.20 = 2.4GB per hour which would allow about 2 hours (4.5GB) on a DVD.

Every few months for the past couple of years I've taken a stab at this only to give up in frustration. I've learned a lot in the past two years. I went from just pulling everything with MovieMaker into one semi-decent sized WMV file that looked like crap to finding out about all of these great open source tools. Unfortunately, I'm only able to grok the GUI tools (AutoGK, AutoMKV, RipBot, MediaCoder) but can't quite make the leap to CLI (or even MeGUI).

At this point, after having experimented with H.264 (or x264), I don't think that I want to go that route primarily because it is slightly less shareable (I know, they all require a codec, but most of my family would not be on H.264 yet) but mainly because the editor support was pretty bad with MovieMaker and Premiere Elements. Sidenote: Sure editors will get there and I should probably be using better editors but we're not there and I'd like to let me kids use the easy tools also.

At this point, I'm down to the following:
  • MediaCoder - I like the fact that it supports batch and I could use one tool to encode to this archive/backup format and then also use it to go to iPode format, etc. However, I am having serious de-interlacing issues that I haven't been able to get past.
  • AutoMKV - I really like this tool but I'm having trouble getting some of the profiles to come out like I expect.
  • AutoGK - Consistently easy but doesn't do batch.

Sorry for the long post. It's kind of a rant or outlet for my frustrations for not being able to move past this. As a programmer, I tend to get stuck and can't move past certain things. It seems like there should be something that is easy like Windows Media/Movie Maker/Premiere Elements/Quick Time but with better quality; but not as complicated as some of the existing options.

I think what I want is the equivalent of WinDV (minimal options) that can encode a directory of DV home video to a near-lossless quality (that the experts here agree is ideal for quality vs. space) that is easier to backup and use and share. Alas, I know that as soon as you hide the options, someone will want the ability to tweak things which gets us right to where we already are.

Anyone have any profiles for MediaCoder or AutoMKV that they use to backup their DV?
Matt Smith
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