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Best way to export and physically send footage (mail)?

Posted: Wed, 23rd Sep 2009, 8:54pm

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MrGoodbomb

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I recently had my local editor back out last minute, leaving me in a real bind. I've got a documentary that needs cut, I've got somewhere between 10-15 hours of DV tape captured onto a Final Cut Pro project. The original footage is all on my personal harddrive. I found a new editor, but he works on Adobe. So, I need to export each tape, burn it to a DVD, and send it to him with the least amount of compression or data loss. I don't want to send him the tapes just in case, well, he backs out, too, just to be safe.

How can I best export the raw DV footage and burn them to the fewest DVDs without file compression or data loss? I'd prefer not to cut anyone off mid-interview and make two DVDs of one interview since the editor is unfamiliar with the content thus far. Any ideas?
Posted: Wed, 23rd Sep 2009, 9:01pm

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DVStudio

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Hmm. Well, you do realize that burning video files to DVD does decrease their quality right? Especially HD footage. I mention this because I know that FCP can handle the HD, so yeah.

How large are the files? I mean, in terms of GB? 10-15 hours is a lot, but perhaps you could purchase some 32GB flash drives and mail them? Or if you've got a portable hard drive? Those options might be easier and you wouldn't lose quality (or at least not as much) and they are a lot easier than DVDs are. Haha. If you go this route, either copy the raw files (if you aren't maiking chamnges first yourself) to the flash drive, or export them in Quicktime (.mov) format. It is going to take a bit of space, just so you know.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Sep 2009, 9:29pm

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MrGoodbomb

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I realize that it's going to be a good bit of space. The footage is all DV, shot on an XL-2. I figured I'd wind up burning a good number of DVDs. I can't afford to purchase a flash drive specifically for this, this editor dropping out has run me dry. I also don't want to send my external via mail. I've had two harddrives, an internal and an external, crash this summer from internal physical issues. I won't risk that here.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Sep 2009, 9:58pm

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Arktic

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you do realize that burning video files to DVD does decrease their quality right?
Erm, not if he's burning data DVDs. Re-compressing to a video DVD (i.e. MPEG) will introduce extra compression, but simply burning the data to DVDs will not have any effect upon the quality.

MrGoodBomb - unless you've captured into some kind of exotic codec, just copy the files as they are from your capture scratch onto DVD. I don't understand what your issue is?

Cheers,
Arktic.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Sep 2009, 11:19pm

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pdrg

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Can you just lay it back to tape (assuming you can't just send the masters)? Tapes are a couple of quid each, but they are going to be native quality and don't involve splitting to fit onto DVD's (an hour of native DV will take 3-4 data DVDs plus all the grief of exporting to the right lengths, etc) and takes exacly 1 hour to export 1 hour of material, compared with the days it'll take you to export and burn all those disks. Indeed it won't even weigh much more, if any more at all!

Tapes in the mail is an oft overlooked extremely high bandwidth channel
Posted: Thu, 24th Sep 2009, 8:14am

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Simon K Jones

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Yeah, I'd do what pdrg suggests. (we should put that sentence onto t-shirts and mugs)
Posted: Thu, 24th Sep 2009, 8:35am

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pdrg

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Tarn wrote:

Yeah, I'd do what pdrg suggests. (we should put that sentence onto t-shirts and mugs)
Yeah, I'd do what pdrgTM suggests. (c)2009 pdrg enterprises UK Ltd.
Posted: Thu, 24th Sep 2009, 4:31pm

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Tim L

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I was going to suggest a portable hard drive, like DVStudio originally suggested in his first post, but MrGoodBomb says there's no budget for it...

10-15 hours DV x 13 GB/hour = about 130 - 200 GB.

250 GB external drive is maybe $70 at Wal-Mart? Copy the files, put the drive back into the box it came in, then pack into another box and ship it. (Would take a *lot* less time to copy 200 GB to an external drive than to print-to-tape for 10-15 tapes. Also would save the editor the time of recapturing all of it.)

Only complication would be if Adobe user is on a PC (source files are on a Mac). If so, drive might need to stay in FAT32 format, which has a max individual file size of 4 GB, so clips longer than about 20 minutes would have to be split up to fit onto the drive. (Unless Mac can *write* to NTFS volumes... I have the impression that Mac can read NTFS drives but not write to them (due to licensing issues).)

If Adobe user is on a Mac also, just format the drive the same as where the files currently reside (which might already be FAT32 also).


ALSO: Somebody should make bracelets and sell them: "WWPD" -- What Would PDRG Do?
Posted: Thu, 24th Sep 2009, 5:59pm

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Staff Only

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Tarn wrote:

Yeah, I'd do what pdrg suggests. (we should put that sentence onto t-shirts and mugs)
Posted: Thu, 24th Sep 2009, 6:11pm

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pdrg

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Tim L wrote:

(Would take a *lot* less time to copy 200 GB to an external drive than to print-to-tape for 10-15 tapes.
Yes, probably, and you could leave it running overnight/unattended - but it's still a hefty load of data. I wouldn't suggest anyone hold their breath waiting for it wink Also your caveats below are very valid...

Also would save the editor the time of recapturing all of it.)
Very true. Except his NLE may need to ingest it all to some near-lossless local codec?

Only complication would be if Adobe user is on a PC (source files are on a Mac). If so, drive might need to stay in FAT32 format, which has a max individual file size of 4 GB, so clips longer than about 20 minutes would have to be split up to fit onto the drive. (Unless Mac can *write* to NTFS volumes... I have the impression that Mac can read NTFS drives but not write to them (due to licensing issues).)
File systems are a complete non-standardised mess, and it is jaw-dropping in this day and age that it shouldn't 'just work'.
Macs like FAT32 or HFS/HFS+ Disks, or to read NTFS
PC's Like FAT32 or NTFS, but CANNOT read HFS/HFS+ without an extra $50 'MacDrive' bit of software that consistently crashes my Vista so badly I have to system restore.

So, as you say, it would seem that FAT32 would be a logical answer to the problem - except it is terrible at large disk sizes as you end up with massive sectors, which mean masses of wasted space. It's unreliable and slow, and has those frustrating filesize limitations you mentioned, but is the only format usable across the 2 OSes simply.

NTFS can't be written by Macs largely as NTFS is tied in with the operating system's encryption services. You can use an illegitimate Linux driver which largely works for unencrypted disks, but nobody will give you any worthwhile support for it.

HFS/HFS+ on PC's seems to be similar, or more a licensing issue. MacDrive works on some machines, but as I say, if I want to brick my PC, I just install MacDrive and god forbid anyone from MacDrive will help you. There's also a freebie HFS Explorer for Read-Only access to most (not all) HFS/HFS+ drives (for instance, the Lacie TwoBig drives are not recognised by HFS Explorer thanks to their internal hardware RAID controller).

It's a bloody mess. This is why, for reliability and commonality I suggested playing out to tape. You can get going straight away, you know it will work, and by the time you've got over splitting your files into <4G chunks (when you may as well use DVD's), you could have the job more or less done. 1 boring day, and off you go... :-$
ALSO: Somebody should make bracelets and sell them: "WWPD" -- What Would PDRG Do?
You're so right... if anyone wants to license my initials for use in these circumstances, PM me for prices wink
Posted: Thu, 24th Sep 2009, 7:08pm

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MrGoodbomb

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15-20 tapes is as much as an external harddrive or 32gb flash.
Posted: Thu, 24th Sep 2009, 9:04pm

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pdrg

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Then do as you see fit, mate. If you can find a suitable external hard drive for £30 that will take it, go that route (tapes are about £2 each) by all means. Remember to split the files up and use FAT32 or you're screwed!

I didn't neg your post, by the way.
Posted: Thu, 24th Sep 2009, 11:28pm

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MrGoodbomb

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I never even noticed the rating system until now. Ha.

Anyway, I really appreciate your input, and I'm absolutely certain you know far more about this than I do, so I hope it doesn't seem like I'm looking down on your input, because I definitely am not.

I just gave him a call and he said that the time to import all of these tapes would add a significant amount of time and work to his job, and since he's doing this as a favor for me, I want to make it as easy on him as possible. He said DVDs of the raw .dv files, or even avis or movs, would be easiest. How can I best get around 1 hour of tape onto a single DVD with the least amount of compression or data loss?
Posted: Fri, 25th Sep 2009, 7:47am

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ben3308

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How to send? Answer is simple.

"Flat-rate shipping from the Postal Service. If it fits, it ships."
Posted: Fri, 25th Sep 2009, 8:08am

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Simon K Jones

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MrGoodbomb wrote:

How can I best get around 1 hour of tape onto a single DVD with the least amount of compression or data loss?
Don't the files already exist as .dv files? Or the .mov/.avi equivalent? If so, just drag them on. No need to re-export them. Or if there is, just export them using the DV codec.
Posted: Fri, 25th Sep 2009, 12:01pm

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MrGoodbomb

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Tarn wrote:

MrGoodbomb wrote:

How can I best get around 1 hour of tape onto a single DVD with the least amount of compression or data loss?
Don't the files already exist as .dv files? Or the .mov/.avi equivalent? If so, just drag them on. No need to re-export them. Or if there is, just export them using the DV codec.
Yes, and an hour is about 9-13GB of data.
Posted: Fri, 25th Sep 2009, 12:49pm

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Arktic

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If you compress the data to fit on DVD, you'll lose quality. It's that simple.

If you don't want to degrade the quality of the footage:

Either you split the files up and send 20 - 30 DVDs, or you put them on tape, or you put them on an external drive. I don't understand why you're being so obstinate about it...
Posted: Fri, 25th Sep 2009, 3:07pm

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pdrg

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Hiya MrG,

You probably will need to export the files in order to split them into DVD sized chunks, as you're aware anyway. You *could* try using a good compression tool (like winzip, winrar, 7-zip, etc - but for your mac (no, not 'stuffit expander' .SIT files as nobody outside macworld uses them)), and set that to auto-split the files into DVD-sized chunks. That would mean you could send the original DV/AVI/MOV files without re-exporting.

It'll be a pain in the backside and take a while, but it's perfectly possible smile
Posted: Fri, 25th Sep 2009, 3:22pm

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MrGoodbomb

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Arktic wrote:

If you compress the data to fit on DVD, you'll lose quality. It's that simple.

If you don't want to degrade the quality of the footage:

Either you split the files up and send 20 - 30 DVDs, or you put them on tape, or you put them on an external drive. I don't understand why you're being so obstinate about it...
Thank you for your input. I guess what I'm wondering is if there's a way to compress it down to a manageable size with minimal degradation. I have read that compression with minimal decrease in quality is possible, but that it would have to be "basically security camera footage," where very little moves for long periods of time. Since it's documentary footage, and almost everything is stationary outside of the speaker moving around a bit and speaking, this might be possible. What do you think?
Posted: Fri, 25th Sep 2009, 7:01pm

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pdrg

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This is the problem in a nutshell...

Your files contain a lot of detail, compression will make them smaller, but lose some of that detail. There is no single answer as to how much you want to compress them and the quality hit. Now, you may not care about the degree of degradation, but there will be some. You don't want to lose detail at this stage, as it will only get exaggerated by editing and grading, but that's going to be your choice, and you'll have to make that judgement. If you do want to experiment with that then try MPEG4v10/H264 codec at a high bitrate, but that's another job altogether...

Good luck man.
Posted: Mon, 28th Sep 2009, 10:52pm

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MrGoodbomb

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Thank you for the response.

I believe I'm going to bite the bullet, empty my personal harddrive, copy the files to that, and send it to him.

My personal HD from my PC is Fat32. Should I format it to another format first? He uses a PC. I just know that Fat32 has a problem with big files. And these are way bigger than the 4.5GB issue.
Posted: Mon, 28th Sep 2009, 11:18pm

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pdrg

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Sadly there is still no single simple answer, but many NLE's are sensitive to the filesize on FAT32 problem. Avid, for instance, can ingest but automagically split a file up behind the scenes. Maybe yours can too?

I have to refer you to my earlier post about what a mess and a muddle the whole interoperability thing is between PC's and Macs. It will get worse as more Macs are around!

Being from a PC background, there's not much more I can add to help I'm afraid, I just have no idea what tools are available to you on a Mac to split large files, sorry!
Posted: Mon, 28th Sep 2009, 11:50pm

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MrGoodbomb

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Basically, I'm asking if I should format to NTFS for the editor. I believe both his PC can read it, and my Mac can write to it, correct?
Posted: Tue, 29th Sep 2009, 8:51am

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pdrg

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No, stay FAT32, Yes, he can read/write NTFS natively, but you can't write it!!! Unless some applehead here knows differently, that is...?

(Can you see why I thought going back out to tape would be a good idea?!)
Posted: Tue, 29th Sep 2009, 1:28pm

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Atom

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Run. Fast.
Posted: Thu, 1st Oct 2009, 11:29pm

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gulfy32

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If you have the footage saved on your computer, why can't you just mail him the original tapes?