Like most (technology-oriented) parents, Christina and I have recorded hours and hours of Digital Video (DV) of Anya and Kyan growing and we’re still doing it now.
Digital Video (DV) requires a lot of space (of the order of 15Gb per hour!) Consequently, we edited the raw footage like mad and discarded all the crap to come up with beautiful movies (for us at least — I guess that most of you will fall asleep if you were ever subjected to them…)
Initially we only had one way to archive the movies: on VCD (No! Not DVD!) The reason is that we didn’t have DVD burners then. Of course, the quality is not great (MPEG-1 / 352×288 / 1150 kbit/s) but we personally do not care. Watching Anya discovering the world for the first time is what is important!
Then we acquired a DVD burner and shortly after we were producing our own DVDs. The quality level rose abruptly (MPEG-2 / 720×576 / around 2500 kbit/s) and we did that for years until H264 came.
H264 is the new MPEG-4 Part 10 video compression standard which has become pervasive since its adoption by Apple, Sony, Nokia and the Blu-ray Disc Association. Consequently, this year, Christina and I stopped creating DVDs and started rendering our movies to H264 at 720×576 and 1500 kbit/s.
The big decision
Two weeks ago, Christina and I decided that having VCDs, DVDs and H264 Quicktime movies on my MacBook was going to hurt us in the long run. I did a little bit of investigation and realized that we had to convert all our VCDs and DVDs to H264. We settled on using HandBrake to do the conversion because, well, it’s excellent and open source.
As we are planning to buy an AppleTV some day, I used the AppleTV preset in HandBrake with the following changes:
- H264 Video / 720×576 / 1500 kbit/s
- AAC Audio / Stereo / 48kHz / 128 kbit/s
- 2-pass encoding
- Turbo first pass
- Anamorphic: no
- Keep aspect ratio: yes
- Crop: manual
- Deinterlace: yes, slow.
Christina and I are now the proud owners of 48 home made H264 movies taking 17Gb of space (more than 24 hours.)
We have bought an external hard disk (a Lacie) to store those 48 files and I’ve copied them on the hard disk of one of the desktop computers I have access to. I have also copied them on a second external hard disk I normally use to backup my MacBook. All in all, I’m happy… for the time being.
I have been looking at Amazon S3 for some time now as a means to keep my most important files in a data-center somewhere. And those 48 movies certainly qualify as my most important files ever! Unfortunately, sending 17Gb of data to Amazon from Mauritius is not practical (and this is one of the most massive understatements I’ve ever made) due to the pathetic bandwidth we have here.
Let’s see, at 128 kbit/s, 13 days would be required to upload all the 17Gb of video. Maybe it’s more sensible paying an air ticket to Réunion Island and doing it from there… Anyway, the cost to keep the data on Amazon S3 would then be:
- $4.25 (Rs. 113) for the first month (to account for the initial data transfer)
- $2.55 (Rs. 68) per month thereafter.
This is extremely cheap! One added benefit is that the videos will all be accessible online. Surely, Kyan and Anya will be able to stream the movies from S3 to their mobile phones when they’ll be big enough to have phones :-)
Have you had the same problems? What strategy have you settled on for archiving your precious digital memories?