Storing Large Movie Files

In the last week or so I’ve been exploring the use of video editing and conversion tools – primarily to deal with the conversion and storage of personal cine film. However, since I also have about 15 pieces of video indexed in my document management system, I decided to try and use the same tools on them. The video is all on DVDs for two main reasons. First, most of it is in DVD video format (multiple files with extensions of either VOB, IFO or BUP) which is not conducive to storing in a document management system except in a zip file; and second, up to now I havn’t had sufficient storage in my PC to cope with the sizeable volumes of video files. Both of these constraints can now be overcome. I have the tools to convert multiple DVD video files into a single MP4 file; and my current laptop has 750Gb of storage of which two thirds is currently empty.

Overall, the exercise of moving the material on DVDs into the Fish document management system has been successful. All but one item has been transferred, and all the movies play directly from Fish when selected. However, a number of experiences are worth recounting:

  • Inaccessible DVD files: One DVD was transferred from VHS video to DVD by IC Video Ltd in the same way as several of the others, However, although it usually plays OK when put into the DVD slot, neither the FreeStudio or Movie Maker software I’m using was able to convert successfully from the DVD. Indeed, I’m not even able to copy it from the DVD to my laptop.  So that material will have to stay on the DVD until I find a solution.
  • Movie file formats: I also have a number of TV programmes downloaded from the net with .MPEG extensions and which play successfully on my laptop. However, my FISH document management system does not seem to support that extension. I did try changing the extension to MP4 (which FISH does support) but found the quality was much reduced. In the end I discovered that FISH does support a .M1V extension with which the files do play successfully. This prompted me to read up about MPEG and I discovered it has many versions with .M1V predictably being MPEG1.  I don’t plan to spend a great deal of time trying to understand all about movie formats, and am just happy to have found an extension that plays on my laptop and can be stored in my document management system. However, it has reminded me that there is much greater complexity in all these standards than meets the eye and consequently I shall be keeping the physical DVDs in case I encounter problems downstream.
  • DVDs with data files: A few of the physical DVDs contain not video files but collections of ordinary files. For example, one is the installation disk for an old version of my FISH document management system. Another is the installation disk for my Home Use versions of Microsoft Word and Excel. With these I simply zipped up the files and stored the zip file in Fish.
  • Large file sizes: Although file size is no longer such a problem on the laptop as previously, it still needs to be taken into account for backup purposes. All the material in my document management system is placed into so-called ‘bins’ – standard Windows folders specially configured by FISH. Over the years I have limited the size of the bins to around 200Mb to facilitate manageability and the taking of backups. These days I’m able to backup to 4.7 Gb DVDs – though I still try and keep the bin size to around 200 MB. With these movie files, however, some of the file sizes are well over 1 Gb, so I have created specific bins for them to go in and ensured that the sum of the files within them do not exceed 4.7GB (which is the advertised size of the DVDs) so that I will still be able to take the necessary backups. Unfortunately, as I discovered when trying to burn to disk, the usable size of blank DVDs is somewhat less at 4.37Gb. Consequently, I subsequently had to move some of the files around the bins I had created to keep the bins under the 4.37Gb limit. After over 30 years of personal computing, things are still never easy….


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