CONTENT CREATOR - LEARN,TEACH, SHARE
1 - The elements of a video file
Hello, my name is Mikko Pakkala. I am a blackmagic design certified trainer for Davinci Resolve in Editing, color, fairlight and fusion. I have over 20 years of experience in news and current affairs video making. I am now starting a short series on the topic of video files. My goal is to remove a hefty amount of potential stumbling blocks from your road of becoming a productive and successful content creator. I do my best in familiarising you with some of the most crucial aspects and concepts of content creation. Let’s begin our exploration with the raw material, video files, what do they consist of and what are the most essential attributes that we all should have a grasp on. Let’s get moving!
2 - Many video file types, containing many variables
You might wonder, why there has to be so many different kinds of video files? The main problem is that uncompressed Video files have too high demands for transfer speed, capacity and processing. The solution is compression, in the form of video codecs, which group different methods of video compression to make the video files small enough for the hardware to handle. These compression methods can reduce video data significantly, and the image may still seem to remain the same as the original. Different files are also optimised for different purposes, some for quality, some for editability and some for compatibility. Differences also come from different devices, patents and manufacturers.This has led to us having more video file types than we care to count, the old ones remain and new ones are being built.
3 - With video files, it depends on what you need
The reason why not that many people talk about video files is mostly because there are no definite answers to most questions. Most questions concerning video files begin with “it depends…” for example transcoding video, which means that you change the video file’s form into some other form. Most people don't know what that is, because they haven’t had the need to learn what that is, because they record, edit and deliver video without using any manual transcode operations. This is good enough for most people. Another reason is that Transcodes are becoming more automated. Most modern cameras have the option to have your proxy files created automatically, in camera. That is, If you happen to need proxies from your video files to begin with, most people do not.
4 - Footage acquisition: Recording the video file
First we need to use our camera for capture. The most common bottleneck here is the limited write speed to the small memory card in your camera. This usually means that you have to use heavy compression on your camera files, which you then might need to transcode into something less compressed for you to be able to edit the material with your computer. Why not solve this bottleneck with an external recorder using SSD-drives? You might ask. You could, but why I don't, comes to three points: First, because we shoot moving images, often the camera needs to also move, so it’s important for your camera to be wireless. Secondly, when you’re recording video, less gear means less time to set up your shots. Thirdly, The more devices you take on a shoot, the more points of failure you will have. A friend of a friend forgot to push the record button also on his external recording device.
5 - watchfolders for automated transcoding of video files
As you’ve gotten your footage, you move the video files from your camera's memory card into a watch folder which is a directory on your computer that is monitored for changes. When a new file or folder is added to the watch folder, a predefined action is triggered. So you can automate repetitive tasks within your video production workflow. Like automatically transcoding video footage into different formats and uploading these files to different cloud storages for editing and for backup. In essence this means that you can automate most operations in importing your video files.
6 - proxy video files for cloud & mezzanine files for on prem editing
If you strive for maximum image quality with your video files, or if you edit in a collaborative cloud environment, you might need to transcode your material into something less taxing on your network bandwidth or system processing power. Proxy files are your primary solution to ease network bandwidth demands. Proxy files are extremely light, low quality video files, linked to the full quality original recorded files. This means that you can switch between the heavy full and light proxy qualities during editing, if you so choose. For non cloud projects, you usually only have to worry about processing capability, from which a “mezzanine” meaning an “in-between” format becomes useful. Less compressed format takes a huge amount of storage, as it retains full quality, but it is easier to transcode for the GPU and processor.
7 - Video file delivery for distribution takes a lot of versioning
The delivery of your finished video files is where most transcodes need to take place. The viewer has to have flawless playback on any device on any setting, this means a long list of different transcodes from your exported video file. Social media platforms have this versioning automated, as you send your video to youtube, its automation creates the versions from your exported video automatically. The delivery version of your video is usually highly compressed as the storage and distribution of your video is actually quite expensive. This is a fact most youtubers are relatively unaware of as people can share their videos through youtube for free. This may not be a lasting state of things and it is nothing short of amazing.
8 - Video file archive to online, nearline or offline storage
The last operation in the video workflow is archiving, which can mean a lot of things depending on your needs. Will you repurpose your material a lot? Will there be multiple users utilising the archive on a daily basis? Then you might need to prune and leave some material on your online storage, which means your fastest drives from which you're editing your videos. For the material you might reuse, you need nearline storage which is the fast archive storage which may be too slow to edit from, but quick enough for browsing and transferring material to your online storage. For materials that you only need to preserve, you need offline storage, which is too slow for daily use, but is reliably backed up and inexpensive and thereby with ample capacity and upgradeability. This storage is smart to be located away from the production facilities.
9 - Media asset management and metadata for video files
Without proper cataloguing and organisation, your archived files would not be accessible through search and thereby no one would find anything from your archive, rendering it useless. MAM, meaning media asset management, is all about how your media is being managed and organised in your nearline and offline archive storages. What makes your media searchable is metadata, which can be embedded within the video file, or as a separate file. It is Information that describes the file’s video and audio data. Such metadata can be descriptive such as filename, keywords, author, tags, notes and comments. Or it can be technical data, meaning timecode, date & time and copyright data. The settings and metadata of a video file can also contain data that is in conflict with the files actual contents.