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It will depend on what you wish to do with the material. If you wish to edit it, then DV-AVI Type II would be the ultimate format. Once edited, you can then Export to whatever delivery medium you wish. DVD would be a good one, as you should be able to play DVD's for decades.
Nothing that you can do will be totally future-proof. Everything has a life expectancy, and it is logical that every format available today will not work in 15 years, unless you retain legacy equipment and software.
Since your material is not HD, by any definition, the only advantage to going H.264 and then to Blu-ray (with proper scaling, etc.) would be to have it available should DVD-Video suddenly die. While I do not think that this is likely, it IS possible. CD's are still going fairly strong, but the higher-def formats, SACD, etc., are pretty much dead, even if they offered better audio response. Right now, the market is going towards horribly compressed audio (MP3, etc.) for portability - the heck with quality, so even CD sales are sagging.
If you do undertake the process, I'd recommend purchasing a D-A interface, like the Canopus 300, and also a large external, or two.
I'm with Hunt. Capture using a DV-Bridge, which capture your video as DV-AVIs. (Other hardware may capture as AVIs, but they could be Divx-AVIs, MJPEG-AVIs, etc. And most of those won't work with all video editors.)
Here is some information on DV bridges.
Then you can edit your movies in Premiere Elements and output it as DVDs.
DVDs may not last forever and, as Hunt says, there's no guarantee you'll be able to play them 100 years from now. (How easy is it to play those old 78 rpm records from 100 years ago?) But at least they'll be digital. Which means that they'll either be playable for most of your lifetime or they'll be easy to convert to whatever the next media format is.
Thanks for the replies!
1) I assume Premiere Elements 4 uses DV-AVI Type II, right?
2) Is there any advantage to using a DV Bridge vs. feeding my old Hi-8 video from my old Hi-8 camcorder into my mini-DV camcorder and straight (without recording into mini dv) into my computer using the my mini-DV camcorder firewire?
1 - All version of Premiere prefer DV AVI type 2
2 - As long as you end up with DV AVI type 2 the exact conversion process is not all that important
But, to verify, test with your hardware and tapes to verify that the conversion worked
Do something small as a test, before you jump into a full size project
Do you think DV AVI type 2 will still be supported 20 - 30 years from now? I'm thinking of just keeping the 100+ hours in DV AVI type 2 on my hard drives. I know the files are huge but I can buy good external 1 tb drives for $120 now and every 5 years or so will move them to newer drives (with backups of course). By having them on external drives my grown kids can look at whatever videos they want very easily.
20 years from now? Did anybody think we'd be editing hi-def video on a home computer 20 years ago or that broadcast TV would be broadcasting digitally?
It's impossible to predict what the next generation media formats will be, Richard. But, at least if you're storing your files in a good, sound digital format (and DV-AVI is one of the best), at least you'll easily be able to convert to that format when it is invented.
"... But, at least if you're storing your files in a good, sound digital format (and DV-AVI is one of the best) ..."
What digital format would you say is the best?
It depends on what you want to do with it.
DV-AVIs are the best if you plan to ever edit your video again.
MPEG2s (the DVD format) are the best if you just plan to watch it.
And so on.
But there is no one best in the world of technology. It's all relative.
Though it's not been 20 years, I can still use Indeo CODEC's for material encoded with those, to view today. We're talking probably a good 15 years. The CODEC's will probably be around for many years to come. In the case of DV-AVI, they'll probably outlast (as for longivity of availability) most others. It is the standard that almost every NLE program uses. Now, 20 years from now, who knows what we'll be recording to? Still, the MS DV-AVI CODEC's will very likely be around.
Also, writing back to mini DV tape will also provide good storage for years to come - so long as you hold onto a mini DV tape camera, or deck. These are stout little beasts, and do a far better job of keeping their data, than most magnetic devices, i.e. other forms of tape.
Twenty years down the road is much farther than any of us can look, but if one keeps the legacy hardware around, you *should* still be able to play your material.