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  #1  
01-23-2019, 02:21 PM
nhorne nhorne is offline
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Hi everyone!

Was looking for some advice, we are looking to move our entire family’s home video collection to digital. There is A LOT of material. Maybe 500 hours maybe more. The formats are all different starting from the late 80’s so we have mini tapes, various disk formats, VHS, various sd card types. I guess we are really looking for 2 things.

1)Convert all of the material into digital and put it into one chronological timeline

2)We need someone to sit through and edit all of this material into something much shorter but still be in chronological order, some times may overlap so we would need to figure out a way to order the overlap that makes sense. Deleting parts of the video that show nothing. Basically making something that very professionally edited.

Can anyone recommend a service in tri-state to do either of these things? We’re located on Long Island and really prefer not to ship out any of these tapes as they are irreplaceable. Willing to drive far as well.
We anticipate this is going to be pricey as it is a lot of material.

Any recommendations for either of those two services would be greatly appreciated.
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  #2  
01-23-2019, 04:46 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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You are seeking a paid professional service to edit down roughly 500 hours of existing home video in the various formats common over the past 40 years into something interesting, watchable, and delivered in a suitable digital format? A major project, and I gather you are not considering DIY?

Do you have budgets in mind; e.g.,
- how long (run time) you want the final product?
- how quickly you want the project completed?
- A ballpark budget you are willing to spend?

FWIW, the ratios vary widely and depend on the material but figure it can take on the order of 4 hours to edit down to 1 minute of finished video. (Not your average Joe and Jane Six-pack's home video.)
Video on tape takes real time just to capture before any real editing can be done.
Video editor's salary averages around $40/hour in NY, not counting studio time, rental, or fringe benefits and overhead, which could easily run the cost to over $100 per hour.
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  #3  
01-23-2019, 10:20 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
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Start by asking yourself, "How much of those 500+ hours would anyone want to watch?" A good metric is ask family members if they would be willing to share the cost, invest in the preservation of these videos. Most will probably pass unless it's free, then they'll say they want all 500+ hours.

First thing to do with the digital files (optical disc, SD cards, etc), is to make copies of them immediately to new optical discs or hard drives. Despite claims they'll last decades, optical discs highly prone to playback issues (as evidenced by the numerous "Can't play my X years old CD/DVD/Blu-Ray threads) and any flash media (SD cards, flash drives, SSD drives) are not archival and prone to complete failure without warning.

Next, having made copies of digital files and distributing those copies to other members of the family (you don't want to be the sole keeper of the files), start quickly reviewing what's on the digital media and begin two piles, keep or trash. Note there's no undecided pile as it would be likely larger than the trash pile.

Don't do anything with the videotapes until you've decided whether you want to do it yourself (figure a minimum of $700-$1000 to get the right equipment, which you could largely recoup by resale after you're done it them) or $30-$50 / hour minimum to get a quality, professional transfer. Videotapes have a finite lifespan (and are mostly near the end of the that lifespan) and a bad VCR can ruin it completely.

Edit: Read "What’s in a Professional Video Workflow to Convert Analog Videotapes" on the front page of this site to get an idea of what you should look for in a professional or DIY project.

Even if you don't care about the cost, getting someone to decide what to keep and what to discard is an extremely poor choice for anything as personal as family videos. As mentioned above, only you and your family members can decide what is worth keeping and what's not.
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  #4  
01-23-2019, 11:38 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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A project like this will easily be 5 figures, with multiple payments along the way, and no real deliverables until later in the project cycle. This is extremely similar to what I did for studios. The organizational aspect is more painstaking than the video aspect. I'd usually spending more than 50% of my time doing non-video tasks. The machines would crunch, and I'd spend time in spreadsheets.

Without a firm budget, meaning numbers, nobody will even indulge such a conversation. Similar to how a BMW salesman won't waste time on somebody that can barely afford a Smart car.

Most non-amateur facilities are closed. No public access, no waiting rooms, no secretaries to answer phones, not in a strip mall, etc. Serious operations, lean, converse online (but will call if/when they deem it necessary). When you're only willing to meet-and-greet, you're culling some quality options.

The biggest issue with mail is stupid packaging (example: no padding), and cheap service (Fedex Ground, etc).

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  #5  
01-24-2019, 10:32 AM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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You have quite a task on your hands. Apparently you haven't yet contacted anyone truly knowledgeable. It's similar to the task I started with myself, which included almost 400 hours of VHS tapes but did not include the knowledge about what VHS is, what to do with it, or the skills for doing it. The middle part -- finding out about the sources themselves, what they were, their properties, how they're produced and transmitted from one form to another -- that was the easy part. A few days on the internet got me educated, as they say. Part of that education was finding the guides in this website.

From there I knew generally what had to be done and, in a general and vastly oversimplified way, how it was done. So, maybe it might help to get you somewhere up to that point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nhorne View Post
we are looking to move our entire family’s home video collection to digital
"Digital" covers a lot of territory. There are digital formats designed for editing, others designed for optical disc, others for playing on servers or set top players or USB sticks and smart tv's, others for internet posting. That sounds complicated, but since editing is the first step, what you need is an editing format that lets you assemble all of your different sources into a single stream. Because your editing stream can't mix different frame sizes or playback speeds (and ultimately your final output can't mix 'em up, either), then you need to be able to tell someone what you want and then find someone who knows what they're doing.

That last part is a another problem. We've learned in all of these tech forums, after years and after thousands of submitted questions and video samples and video complaints, that most of the guys out there who call themselves "professionals" are clueless video morons. They don't understand the sources, the hardware, the software, or the methods. When you talk about "quality work", that's another sticky point. Many wouldn't know quality from a frankfurter. They figure that if the final result is a picture you can see on a display of some kind, it's a successful transfer. if the picture actually moves at the same uniform rate all the time and makes sounds, even better.

You think I'm kidding? I'm not. We've seen family memories turned into plain, irreparable visual garbage. And for a fee, at that. So watch out for these guys who call themselves pro's. We've seen their business sites and we've seen their output, and we know for a fact that most of them are no more "pro" than you are right now. So I strongly advise that if you want to ensure that whoever you consult is on the level, ask them to show some of their work and to explain their methods.

To define more clearly what you're starting with:

Quote:
Originally Posted by nhorne View Post
we have mini tapes, various disk formats, VHS, various sd card types
By "mini tapes" I assume you mean MiniDV. These tapes are already digital. There is only one tried and true, accurate, non-damaging way to transfer them to a computer. You get a miniDV camera or compatible playback device with a Firewire output, a computer with a Firewire input, and software designed to copy consumer DV from Firewire to DV-avi files. Notice I said "copy" -- not "record", not "capture". DV sources are copied to a computer 1:1 via Firewire. If your "pro" says they are doing it another way, grab your miniDv's and your wallet and run away as fast as you can.

"various disk formats"? There are no analog optical disk formats, so those sources are already digital. If they're digital, they're copied from disc to computer. They're not re-recorded or captured or anything else. If they are burned as authored DVD videos, they are copied using free software that's designed to transfer them without alteration to editable MPG files. If the videos are burned as "data" to optical disc in various encoding formats such as DivX, XVid, mp4, mkv, etc., then they are directly copied as well.

The same for "various sd card types". Those videos are already digital and are copied directly to a computer in their unchanged format.

VHS is analog and must be captured to digital files using capture hardware and devices designed for analog source formats. If you have 300 hours playing time of VHS tapes, it will take a minimum of 300 hours to capture them to workable files. I notice that you use the word "professional". Let me explain: professionals who specialize in this type of VHS transfer don't capture VHS to lossy digital codecs like DV, MPEG, or h.264 encodes. Professionals capture VHS originals to lossless digital files using equipment and codecs designed for that purpose. They don't record VHS to DVD recorders and they don't use digital cameras or lossy digital-encoding capture cards or lossy capture formats. Lossless VHS captures are processed using lossless intermediates, after which they are joined to other files and encoded to final delivery formats (what you would call DVD, Bluray, or mp4 or mkv files).

Since lossless has been mentioned, let's go back to that editing stream. Different input formats are decoded into lossless working files using lossless codecs designed for that purpose. The reason you do that is because different frame sizes and frame rates have to be converted to common frame types and frame rates. It's possible to do that and it's done all the time, but if it's done using lossy digital formats you can bet your life it looks like half-digested chow mein before it's all over with, and don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise. That brings up another problem: standard definition video losslessly compressed with Lagarith runs into storage of about 25 to 30GB per hour. At 500 hours you're talking about a lot of storage, even after you edit out the nonessentials, slightly less with user-customized configurations of UT Video codec. But it's possible to store it all -- I have a stack of 3.5" external USB drives to prove it.

If anyone tells you that everything has to be deinterlaced, you'd better have an in-depth discussion about that. Deinterlacing is not a non-destructive process, and it isn't necessary for all output formats except for web posting and a few cheap non-smart server players. If they don't know that interlaced and progressive video can be combined and encoded as all-interlaced for DVD or BluRay, then they've never done this kind of work before and you'd better be wary. For other output and display formats, you can also deinterlace video in such a way as to be able to combine them with progressive sources for certain output types such as mp4 for web mounting or smart TV playback. And there are different deinterlacing methods out there. Many of them, even with "pro" in their software names, are not so great.

Once these lossless sources are combined and sifted into final output videos, they are encoded to whatever playback formats you want.

That's it in a nutshell, even if it is a big, oddly-shaped shell. Maybe that info can get you started. You're not talking about an easy process, although a real pro has been there and done it. If anyone tells you that it's a one-step process and they have a dandy machine at home that can do it all, you're being seriously misled and the damage will be permanent. It's possible to find someone who can dole out parts of the work. For example, you can find someone to copy your miniDv's properly to Dv-AVi files. Maybe they would even decode them to losslessly compressed media with Lagarith or UT Video codec (although from Dv-AVI you can do that yourself for free).

Is it difficult to find someone who does it correctly? It is, and it won't be cheap. Do millions of people all over the world learn to do this themselves and with good results? Yes. But it's not a weekend project and it's still not all that cheap. Can you leave out the word "professional" and take things down a notch or two? Yes, but you'll have to seriously revise your expectations and live with some compromises that you might or might not be crazy about. Audition a tape with someone and see what they deliver (don't let them keep the tape!).

Anyway, good luck. And welcome to the forum.
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  #6  
01-24-2019, 10:47 AM
nhorne nhorne is offline
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Thank you everyone for the comments and suggestions.

As far as budget we did anticipate this to cost in the lower 5 figure range.

It would be ideal if we could find one person to work on the entire project for us. There are no hard deadlines of when we need this finished. Realistically how long do you think it would take just to convert the 500 hours into digital?

Thinking more about this last night, instead of having the 500 hours edited down into a film, would it be possible to have chapters broken down by year and than again by subchapters? Like this:

1995
Mikes Birthday Party
Christmas
Dance Recital
Disney
etc

Maybe this could be done at the same time everything is being digitized? It would really be up to the person who we hire to label everything based on the content of the videos.

Are any of you familiar with iPhone and photo search feature? Basically, if you go into your pictures and type a word say "car" all of your photos that contain cars show up. Is there anything available like this for digital film?

If anyone here knows of anyone looking for a large project like this please feel free to pm me!
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  #7  
01-24-2019, 11:30 AM
lingyi lingyi is offline
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Is you question and quest real or hypothetical?

Each hour of video will take at least 2x to capture/transfer, review and convert to your final viewing format, which means at least 1000 hours of work @ a minimum of say $25/hour (much more for a true professional) = $25,000 minimum, plus the cost of media (optical discs, hard drives) to store you finished product. Assuming a regular 8 hr / 5 day workweek, this would take ~6 months.

Multiple the above 2-4x times for a truly professional project. Example: If a professional makes $100K a year and it takes him a year to complete your project, you'll be paying for his work for the entire year.
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  #8  
01-24-2019, 11:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
By "mini tapes" I assume you mean MiniDV. These tapes are already digital. There is only one tried and true, accurate, non-damaging way to transfer them to a computer. You get a miniDV camera or compatible playback device with a Firewire output, a computer with a Firewire input, and software designed to copy consumer DV from Firewire to DV-avi files. Notice I said "copy" -- not "record", not "capture". DV sources are copied to a computer 1:1 via Firewire. If your "pro" says they are doing it another way, grab your miniDv's and your wallet and run away as fast as you can.
That's not a firm rule. There are caveats. (I don't want to write that novel now.)
There are times when lossless makes more sense.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
Each hour of video will take at least 2x to capture/transfer
I wish. Tape inspection, capturing, capture scrubbing/review, re-capture if needed, re-scrub/review if needed, and then file transferring. It's more like 3x-10x realtime. Video isn't at all fast -- at least if you're doing a detailed quality job. You can do it 1x in a cheap DVD recorder, but the output is garbage.

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  #9  
01-24-2019, 01:38 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
That's not a firm rule. There are caveats. (I don't want to write that novel now.)
There are times when lossless makes more sense.
Thanks for clarifying. True, it depends on how the miniDv player outputs. It's either copy as unaltered DV, or capture as lossless.
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  #10  
01-24-2019, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
Thanks for clarifying. True, it depends on how the miniDv player outputs. It's either copy as unaltered DV, or capture as lossless.
I think the culprit is the DV recording camera. Some are what I would call "broken" recordings. Trying to transfer those is a PITA, not worth the effort to salvage the DV, all things considered (optics, ease of analog lossless, etc).

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  #11  
01-24-2019, 05:35 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nhorne View Post
Realistically how long do you think it would take just to convert the 500 hours into digital?
The only part of your project that has to be converted to digital is the VHS, and perhaps the MiniDv depending on what kind of MiniDV playback device is used. The optical disks and the SD cards are already digital.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nhorne View Post
Thinking more about this last night, instead of having the 500 hours edited down into a film, would it be possible to have chapters broken down by year and than again by subchapters? Like this:

1995
Mikes Birthday Party
Christmas
Dance Recital
Disney
etc

Maybe this could be done at the same time everything is being digitized?
First, everything has to be copied to a computer or to storage devices for access. They can't be combined until all sources are converted to common frame rates and frame configuration. You can't combine dissimilar video types, no matter whether you want one "film" (i.e, video) or many. You also have to come up with a way for the person doing the edits to decide which video segments and scenes you want and which are not desirable for which movies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nhorne View Post
Are any of you familiar with iPhone and photo search feature? Basically, if you go into your pictures and type a word say "car" all of your photos that contain cars show up. Is there anything available like this for digital film?
You mean videos? Yes, I believe I've heard about such apps for PC's, so I assume an iPhone might be equipped for the same thing. But now you're talking about output, not input. Encoded formats for DVD or media players are not the same for iPhones.
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  #12  
01-25-2019, 08:19 AM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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I would guess your project could easily reach the low 6 figures for a seriously "professional quality" job.

The biggest unknown that will drive time is the condition of your media, especially the older tapes.
This includes the amount of correction/restoration the images require to meet your quality goals.

A video tape (analog or digital) in excellent condition can be captured/copied (ingested) in a bit over real time and catalogued while it is being ingested. Say 1.5 hours per hour of tape. But many old tapes are NOT in good condition and will require more time as noted above. Ingesting material from disc, SD card, and other file-based media in good condition is faster, but cataloguing still takes time.

Digital tapes recorded at EP speed may present tape read issues when played in a different machine from the one that made the recording. Also, the tape may have drop outs or read errors that require manual intervention in the process, perhaps to the point of capture from an analog (s-video) output to make use of error correction built into the player's playback electronics.

Editing is a time consumer. Simple crash edits where in material is just cut out in bulk can be relatively quick, but if you are looking for precise edits cut to the finer nuances of action and sound to tell a good story it takes time. Organizing into the story you want, whether by subject, event, date, theme, etc takes time as well.

A rough grouping of operations might be:
Researching and planning the project (i.e., what you are doing now)
Consultation with clients and sponsors (family members?)
Acquiring what ever stuff (H/W, S/W, supplies, etc.) you need for the project
Ingest video
Catalogue the recorded scenes
Select candidate video (scenes) to be used in the final product (a rough edit with perhaps 2x more than you will finally use)
Perform and necessary restoration work on the candidate video (color correction, noise removal, etc.)
Progress reviews and mid project corrections as necessary
Final edit into the tracks, chapters, segments or what every divisions you want to use.
Tanscoding in to the final distribution formats.
Distribution of and archiving the results.

Because old tape can be fragile I would make any cataloging and storyboard decision from the ingested video files, not from repeated playback of the original tapes.

As keep in mind the cost to hire it out is not just the basic pay of the editor; it includes all the direct and indirect costs such as payroll taxes, fringe benefits for the editor, studio/facility and equipment costs, and maybe even a bit of profit for the service provided.

And your time providing guidance and direction to the editor through out the project. A bit like Like when hiring a writer to ghost write an autobiography; you have to spend a lot of time with the writer to give him the details and their relative importance for the story he will tell. And that is part of why DIY is a popular approach for some folks.
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  #13  
01-25-2019, 05:48 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
You mean videos? Yes, I believe I've heard about such apps for PC's, so I assume an iPhone might be equipped for the same thing. But now you're talking about output, not input. Encoded formats for DVD or media players are not the same for iPhones.
This is called Digital Asset Management (DAM). You keyword everything with metadata, and it takes a lot of time. This is something I had to do for both pro video and photo work in past years, and I do not miss it. It's a tedious time-vampire task that isn't used much when completed, never worth the effort in my experience.

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