Larry Jordan is a post-production consultant and an Apple-Certified Trainer in Digital Media with over 25 years experience as producer, director and editor with network, local and corporate credits. Based in Los Angeles, he's a member of both the Directors Guild of America and the Producers Guild of America.

What do you do when you have hundreds of hours of material to capture?
By Larry Jordan


Scenario: You have hundreds of tapes, in mixed formats - VHS, Hi-8, DV - some contributed by others, of your favorite game or hobby and your goal is to streamline all the footage you possess!

You have several issues here:
1) You need to capture the tapes at the same quality at which they were shot. However, since you are dealing with a potentially vast array of video formats, it is critical that you capture them at the highest quality and NOT compress them too soon.

2) You not only need to capture them but to log them and make them accessible to others.

3) You need to archive this footage so that it doesn't get lost.

Capture - Catalog - Archive.

All this is doable, but it is not inexpensive or fast. All this can be done by one person, but it is a LOT of work and may exceed what you are interested in doing. Here's a short summary of what you need to do:

1) DV video takes 13 GB per hour to store. Buy enough hard disk space to store everything, plus leave about 20% free on each disk. DO NOT compress the video - you will regret it as soon as you start to edit. Capture DV as DV. For safety, and assuming you have reasonable AC power, I recommend a RAID 5 from Dulce Systems, or CalDigit.

2) Dub all VHS tapes to DV using a time-base corrector - like the DataVideo TBC1000 This allows you to return the original tapes to the people that contributed them. You can make a higher quality copy than the source tape, then capture it from DV using FireWire at high quality for editing.

3) Cataloging is where the most time will be spent -- making sure clips are properly entered, tracked, and metadata entered. Final Cut Server can be used, but it isn't cheap and it takes a professional to install. You might also look at CatDV or Apple Filemaker as a temporary workaround.

4) Archiving - short term, this means making copies of all your hard disks - in case a disk fails, you don't lose media. This covers you for a couple of years. Longer term, you need to archive to tape - ideally, LTO-3 or LTO-4 tape.

When archiving, do NOT create a video DVD - you are losing quality. DVDs are for final distribution, not archiving.

Finally, get some help with this project. You can have some people dubbing, while others are capturing and others are cataloging.