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What is the best codec for preserving digital copies of MiniDV?

Posted on 2009-07-13
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To make a long story short, I've been dumping the contents of my parents MiniDV tapes over the years onto a NAS to ensure that the memories can live on if anything ever happened to the tapes.

Currently the import process involves using Windows Import Video Wizard and creating an AVI file with little (or no) compression.  This means that a 30 minute clip weighs in at ~10 GB once everything is said and done.

In order to reduce the size of these files, but preserve the quality of the original tape (including fast moving scenes, etc.) what codec or encoding settings would you recommend?

Thanks in advance.
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Question by:WavyGravy
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Thomas4019 earned 500 total points
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I've personally been using the same compression when i import them. This is because if you plan to edit the videos, most software likes "non compressed avi" much more than any compressed format.

The two encodings i would recommend if you want to compress them,

1. MPEG-2, the DVD standard encoding format.

2. MP4, the iPod video standard. Now practically the standard for online video downloading.

No matter which encoding format you use, make sure you use a high "bit rate" to minimize compression artifacts.

I would not compress them more than DVDs which is 5GB - 8GB for every 2 hours.
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by:WavyGravy
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Thanks for the advice.  

For the time being I've been using Adobe Media Encoder to convert them from the raw AVI file to MP4, with the bitrate optimized for Apple TV at 480p.  I figured that it was pointless to go above that since that's the highest MiniDV could push out anyway, right?

Also, do you mind if I ask what you use to encode with?  Adobe's offering is alright, but seems to lack a lot of the fine tuning that MediaCoder seemed to have (from what I recall).
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by:Thomas4019
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Yeah there's not much point in going above 480p. That is right about the same resolution as DV videos.

My personal favorite encoder is Quicktime Pro. It costs $30 dollars sadly but then you can export any unprotected video openable in Quicktime to one of many formats. Also it lets me configure the exporting to satisfy my needs. If you are going to use Quicktime make sure you check "Use high quality video setting when available".  Its an option under Properties.

The most important setting when outputting to mp4 is whether you are using the H.264 compression or using MPEG-2 compression. H.264 is supposedly twice as efficient as storing videos but takes longer. Also H.264 produces a different kind of artifact in overcompressed videos, vertical "waves", which can sometimes be annoying.
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