Digitizing Video

Yesterday I met with some colleagues to discuss a proposal for digitizing a number of old videos we have in our collection. The formats are all over the place, and it will require quite a variety of devices to read all of them. As we talked about digitizing options, we spent some time talking about video quality and various HD options for the project.

We talked briefly about the transition from standard DVD to high definition formats. The conversation reminded me of a recent article I saw on Engadget. According to the article, JVC, the last known make of standalone VCRs is calling it quits on that technology. The company will no longer produce standalone units although it will still offer VHS and DVD combo units. That in turn reminded me Blu-Ray vs. HD competition.

A couple of months ago I wrote a post where I briefly mentioned that I thought physical formats such as discs (or tapes for that matter) were simply a stopgap measure until broadband speeds and home media servers could support HD streaming. Shortly thereafter Engadget posted another article announcing the new Netflix program for streaming HD content to the Xbox 360. Netflix is already supporting a number of streaming devices.

While this is definitely progress, it’s not quite the direction in which I would like to see streaming progress. I don’t want to just rent/stream a movie. I want to be able to purchase a hi-def version. For keeps even. I want to be able to pull up a movie from a home server at will. And I want to be able to transfer it to my laptop or iPod or whatever the cool new device is a few years hence. (Of course, a few folks will have to get together and wrangle out some reasonable copyright guidelines for DVDs.)

So . . . as all that randomness percolates, I’m still thinking about this digitization project. How many gigabytes or terabytes of data will we end up with? Where and how are we going to store it? How are we going to make it available? Since we don’t have extensive experience with digitizing video, we’ll be relying on some local experts for advice and guidance. Interesting stuff and something new to learn about.

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