Good format to save video for future generation?

Rich Parry wrote on 4/2/2012, 5:42 PM
To save my family photos for future generations, I save them in JPEG format with the hope that 10 years from now JPEG will be around and if it isn’t, there will be converters to save to the new format.

For my family videos, I create DVDs, but not sure they will be around in 10 years, but it is an easy option so will keep doing that.

I am also saving the rendered file in “MainConcept MP4” HD 1920x1080P format, with the hope that if they are not playable on a computer in 10-20 years, there will be a converter out there to move to the new format.

The Question:
Does saving in MainConcept MP4 full HD seem reasonable? I am not trying to make the videos usable in 100 years, but would like to future proof it for 20 years.

Thanks in advance,


videoITguy wrote on 4/2/2012, 6:12 PM
If I may be able to suggest something to think about in your process.
Don't worry about file converters - there will be and there are ALREADY..... thriving independent business models for entities that do nothing but file conversions for clients from one to another..this is the least of your worrries.

What You should think about - does the format I am using committ to an archive preserve the best quality of original that down the time line will be preserved (as best practice) in other file conversions. For example - jpeg is a horrible degraded choice type for photo archives - use Photoshop .PSD for the best balance of quality original committment to down the road conversion to other photo formats.

In the video world .AVI uncompressed is the very best for videos that are historical and priceless. However that format would eat-up storage volume at a terrific rate. One of the industry intermediate video file types that has a good trade-off of down convert and preserve original at lesser storage rates - is Cindeform.

Video that is shot in HD /HDV can be well preserved as Blu-ray disc video...even SD video should never be comitted to DVD - but rather encoded as Blu-ray for best peformance /to storage ratio, This is actually a discussion as good for 100 years as it is 20years. Doing it in this way gives you the possibility to achieve the kind of archiving I now depend to get family photographic plates made in the 1850's useable as digital reproductions in 2012.

PeterDuke wrote on 4/2/2012, 7:01 PM
Any lossless encoding is equally good for preserving quality. Thus for images you could use BMP, TIFF or PNG.

Video will have to have lossy encoding to be practicable otherwise file sizes will swamp you if you have many videos.

The other issue for archiving is the reliability and future readability of the media. I think it is safe to say that technology to read CDs DVDs and BDs will still be available somewhere in 20 years time, but will your media be still good? Cheap quality optical discs have been reported as failing after as little as 5 years. It is difficult to know the life of today's discs because the exact formulation (dye etc) may not be that old - manufacturers keep changing, either to improve their product or to lower costs. Hard disks are a proven technology but they can fail unexpectedly. They are now usually SATA, so how would you read a PATA disk X years from now?

The answer is to make 2 or more copies on different media types and preferably brands. And if you are really keen, make copies of those copies in perpetuity every few years.
TheHappyFriar wrote on 4/2/2012, 8:35 PM
I'd say save your images as png's (unless they're already jpg's, no reason to convert), it's going no where (just like gif, bmp tif, tga, etc).

For your DVD's I'd take the dvd folders you burned to disc & put them on a drive.

Who knows how long they'll last either way. A fire, a mistake, dropping, accidentally throwing out, etc. all negates the best efforts to save things. I converted some VHS's from ~20 years ago to DVD's for someone & they played just fine. Who woulda thunk it? :D
Rich Parry wrote on 4/4/2012, 8:06 PM
Thanks to all that replied. You have given me some good things to think about.

fldave wrote on 4/4/2012, 11:00 PM
I had some DVD-R backups from numerous years ago become unreadable after only a few years. I went to triple redundant hard drive backups and haven't had problems yet.

But for VHS/DVD/family video backups now, I obtained a batch of MAM-A gold DVDs. I hope they work for at least 20 years of their 100 year intended life span.
johnmeyer wrote on 4/4/2012, 11:36 PM
I had some DVD-R backups from numerous years ago become unreadable after only a few years.That is disturbing. What brand of DVD did you use and how were they stored?

My personal experience and also all the research I've done says that both CDs and DVDs should last longer than just about any other type of media except, perhaps, traditional celluloid film. I have CDs that I burned in the early or mid 1990s and the error rate (using CD/DVD Speed) is the same as when they were first burned. I have the same experience with my Maxell 2x (the initial brand I used) and more recently the Taiyo-Yuden 8x DVD-R discs.

The only issues I had were with some dirt-cheap DVD-R blanks. The error rate on these was about 1000x what I get with Taiyo-Yuden (that is not an exaggeration), and some of these will no longer read reliably.

PeterDuke wrote on 4/5/2012, 12:06 AM
Optical media should be stored vertically with nothing except air touching each side. The spindle of the case should not grip the centre of the disc tightly. The discs should then be kept in a cool, dark, low humidity environment.
JLK wrote on 4/5/2012, 1:43 AM
Ive been considering moving all of my video and still photo collections to this new media:
From everything I've read, this solution holds the most promise. I will post here when I have more information. Until then, best of luck to you:

Jim K.
PeterDuke wrote on 4/5/2012, 6:25 AM
Just when everbody (well, some people) were writing of optical discs as yesterday's technology, along with audio cassettes, LP records and wire recorders, we now have a permanent disc that presumably noboby will want.
Jay Gladwell wrote on 4/5/2012, 9:52 AM

Check out Millenniata discs.

Dan Sherman wrote on 4/5/2012, 9:56 AM
If we can just find a way to get video information onto papyrus,...
It's work pretty well for a lot of years.
riredale wrote on 4/5/2012, 10:06 AM
Back in the late '90s my first CD-burning experiences were making song compilations for my daughter. I used cheap CD blanks from CompUSA. Within a year the aluminum coating on some of the disks was peeling off in big flakes. Hmmm...

Back around 2003 I began burning DVD blanks in quantity, using Ritek DVD-R blanks. Within a few years I got reports of unreadable disks, and sure enough when I tested my own Ritek masters I found many of them to be full of bit errors in the outer tracks.

BUT, since switching to quality blanks for both CDs and DVDs, zero issues. I burn on either Verbatim or TY now. No issues after 5 years. None.

So I have to conclude that disk stability varies widely from brand to brand (they all use different formulations). As an aside, I did a project a few years back where we lifted a video clip from a very old Umatic cassette (1970s). No deterioration noted, though of course I had nothing to compare it to. So I'd also have to conclude that tape can also last a long time.
larry-peter wrote on 4/5/2012, 10:10 AM
Although all our crystal balls fail us in predicting future formats, it seems that uncompressed, either AVI or Quicktime, is safest. Even in a post apocalyptic world a smart guy could probably figure it our if he knew color channels, image size/aspect and bit depths. Any compressed codec - who knows.
I find it interesting that the only technologically recorded image (not human composed art) format that has been consistently viewable in any form for over a century is film. And we're abandoning it.
fldave wrote on 4/5/2012, 2:44 PM
The discs were from back in the late 90's, various cheap brands like Memorex. Stored flat, not vertical, maybe that was the problem. Not all were bad, but about 20%. I quickly salvaged all the data I could to hard drives. PTT via FX1 also for final projects.
Laurence wrote on 4/5/2012, 4:02 PM
As far as format goes, whatever format your camera captures is usually the best to archive. BD-R is probably the best current archival format.
Andy_L wrote on 4/5/2012, 4:50 PM
Don't give up so quickly on JPEG--or other lossy formats--for archiving.

Uncompressed files are much, much bigger, which makes backing them up harder, and increases the odds that something will go wrong down the road. In the case of JPEG, what you're giving up is editing latitude and invisible detail. For family snapshots, I can't possibly see how archiving RAW or TIFF files makes any sense--unless you love filling up hard drives.
Laurence wrote on 4/5/2012, 4:59 PM
We're talking video here right? Most cameras already capture video in a pretty highly compressed format.
Chienworks wrote on 4/5/2012, 6:17 PM
Another good argument for archiving compressed versions vs. uncompressed is that for the same amount of money and space, one could save dozens of compressed copies of each file instead of only one. A huge key to long life is for there to be lots of backups to improve the chances that at least one of them survives.

An argument for saving uncompressed is that if you have a small amount of degradation in the file, losing a few bits of an uncompressed file loses only those few bits. In a highly compressed file a few bad bits can result in a large area of the file being undecipherable.

On the other hand, if you have a dozen copies of compressed versions and all of them lose a few bits, chances are that every bit is still ok in one file or another and the good bits can be "spliced" over the bad ones in other copies. True, this operation is beyond the amount of effort that any casual users would want to attempt now, but i suspect that sometime soon such a function will be a standard part of any file viewing software and it will function invisibly without the users even being aware of it.

In any case, always store more than one copy, and store some copies on different media than other copies. Saving it in multiple formats is good too.