My 2008 video archiving strategy: Wait until 2009

Over a year ago, I decided I would embark on a mission to save all of my family’s home videos to disk. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m glad, because there were a few flaws in my plan. My plan wasn’t future-proof (the videos would be saved with lossy compression), it would require a lot of bandwidth (I planned to upload them to my website), and compression time would drive me nuts.

Fortunately, good things come to those who wait. My highest quality video is on HDV tapes. HDV runs at about 12-14ish gigabytes per hour. 1 terabyte disk drives, which would give me over 70 hours of HD video per drive, are now in the “totally affordable” range of about $120, and could be even less when I buy them in January. This means that for less than $400, I could have an instantly accessible digital library of my videos (at least the first 70 hours), and two backup copies which I could rotate on my trips home as an offsite backup.

Since iMovie ’08 now operates on the iPhoto model (it manages a video library; it is not just an editing program), I think I’ll be encouraged to shoot more video if I know that it won’t just be placed on a shelf and forgotten.

I’ll get started on this when I return to California in 2009. The one issue is that I need to decide how to handle the VHS stuff. Do I burn it on my DVD recorder and then rip it as a high quality H.264 file? Do I record to DV tape and then transfer the tape to my computer? I think I’ll go with the DVD option. It won’t be in an easily editable format (most editors will only handle DV/HDV/etc. in realtime), but it will be better than two tape transfers.

And after this project is complete, should I revive the idea of scanning pre-digital family photos? I started on this back in college but it was painfully slow and I gave up after only a couple of albums. Are there super-fast (but still high quality) scanners available now? Please point me in the right direction in the comments.

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